Category Archives: Tropical North Queensland
Border patrols in the Torres Strait have been stepped up after Port Moresby yesterday was struck with 52 Covid 19 infections forcing the city into lockdown for 14 days.
Senior doctors said the base hospital would be unable to cope with any more cases and have begun establishing a temporary clinic to deal with an expected rush of Covid 19 patients.
Borderforce and the Australian Navy have increased patrols across the top of Torres Strait near Sabai Island from where the PNG mainland can be seen.
For decades Papuans and Islanders have been visiting the mainland and this tradition is making it difficult for Borderforce and the navy to prevent incursions by Papuans in tinnies or canoes.
Compounding the Covid outbreak is the reported incidence of African swine fever in PNG. In March Department of Primary Industries inspectors travelled to Port Moresby to monitor cases found in domestic pigs.
In June the army stationed 50 regular soldiers at the ADF barracks in Bamaga to patrol the northern coastline assisted by drones flying from Bamaga Airport.
Soldiers are maintaining regular patrols throughout the far north. During exercises throughout the islands earlier this year local inhabitants and reservists themselves complained they were not allowed to bring their Steyr rifles or other armaments while on active duty.
It is not known if the present detachment of regular soldiers is armed.
Last week infrared equipped drones discovered in one of the many bays a drum of chemical compound used in the manufacturing of the dangerous drug, ice.
Member for Leichardt Warren Entsch said humanitarian food drops are being made to southern PNG villages and a new medical clinic is being established in an effort to stem the flow of Papuans to the Australian mainland and islands sourcing staples and medical assistance.
He said any villagers trying to access islands or the mainland for family visits would be turned back.
On Thursday Cape York Peninsula pastoralists reported seeing eight travellers of Chinese appearance driving north on the Peninsula Development Road.
The drivers of the eight four wheel drives were the sole occupants with two of the vehicles having back-up equipment and the others empty.
The observers said the vehicles were “quite well kept and shiny and could have been hire cars.”
Their movements were reported to Norforce and Queensland Police.
The Katters Australian Party says there needs to be serious legislative reform to ensure people are safe in North Queensland waters and our tourism industry continues to thrive.
Queensland politicians who do not support responsible culling and other control measures of sharks and crocodiles in North Queensland prior to this summer run the risk of having blood on their hands and this week’s shark attacks off the Whitsundays serve as a warning.
Robbie Katter, State Leader of the KAP and Member for Traeger says North Queenslanders are demanding action from their politicians because they know firsthand that a shark or crocodile attack or fatality is a fact of life.
As Queenslanders head into summer, Mr Katter wants the Government to place the same importance on crocodile fatalities as it does on shark attacks.
“I hope that this week’s tragic shark attacks reinforce the risks posed by uncontrolled populations of large predators particularly sharks and crocodiles.
“Based on the latest figures a total of 35% of crocodile attacks have proven fatal while 8% of shark attacks are fatal. In the past three years in Queensland, there have been nine recorded croc attacks in North Queensland, with three fatalities.
Shane Knuth of the KAP has re-introduced the Safer Waterways Bill into the Queensland Parliament to try and legislate for responsible culling of crocodiles and create new industries in North Queensland, particularly for Indigenous communities.
Robbie Katter says the major parties have worked together in the past to block the passage of the important reforms.
“In 2017 Labor and the LNP blocked debate on the Bill.
“Any politician who doesn’t support the changes is not only putting people’s lives at risk, they are putting the boot into our tourism industry,” Mr Katter said today.
“Every day we hear stories from North Queenslanders about close encounters with sharks and crocs and the more this happens the worse it is for our tourism industry.
“Only a sensible cull will help solve the problem.”
The Bill seeks to establish a Queensland Crocodile Authority to oversee responsible culling of crocodiles and to grow a crocodile industry in the North, worth potentially tens of millions of dollars.
“We want this new Authority to unleash the potential of the crocodile industry and turn it into something that Queensland can be proud of.
“Meat and skin production and tourism can all benefit from the establishment of a Queensland Crocodile Authority whilst at the same time, ensuring that wild crocodile numbers are kept in check and rogue crocs are either killed or relocated.”
Mr Katter said that livestock and farm animal crocodile kills were on the increase in the North. Under the Safer Waterways Bill, farmers would have the right to introduce crocodile management schemes on their own land.
“As we head into summer, surf life savers, water ski enthusiasts, divers, rowers and the public in general in North Queensland are very concerned about shark and croc numbers venturing into our waterways.
“We have a responsibility – just like we do with shark numbers – to protect the public. As someone said in my electorate, we want to cull the crocs to stop them culling us.”