In response to a public outcry, Katters Australia Party is drafting legislation to remove or cull crocodiles in northern waterways after a spate of savage attacks on tourists and residents.
The recent death of a spearfisherman and the mauling of a man at Innisfail by crocodiles prompted a series of public meetings called by the Member for Dalrymple Shane Knuth to gauge public support for crocodile removal, culling, egg collection and safari hunting.
Meetings were held last week at Mareeba, Innisfail and Port Douglas.
At the Mareeba meeting Mr Knuth said the attacks had been given international media coverage and tourists were now cancelling visits to the Far North because they were frightened of being attacked by a salt water crocodile.
Former deputy Mayor of Mareeba Shire, Evan McGrath spoke of crocodiles close to the town and how farmers had been menaced by them when checking their water pumps in creeks and channels.
He said crocodiles had been seen in irrigation channels and the Barron River near his farm. “Their numbers are out of control in areas where crocodiles have never been seen before.”
“Enough is enough,” Mr Knuth told a supportive audience of more than 100 residents.
“We have to bring the numbers back under control. Over the past 40 years since croc shooting finished the numbers have exploded and crocs no longer fear man and they have become cheeky and not afraid to attack people or domestic animals.”
A three metre long photo backdrop of a crocodile with a kelpie in its mouth reminded the audience of the audacity and savagery of a crocodile eating a pet dog near Innisfail two weeks ago, greatly upsetting the dog’s young owner.
Supporting the KAP legislation was the Chairman of Cape York Peninsula Land Council Richie Ahmat who suggested a truck load of large crocs should be taken from a local crocodile farm and dropped into the Brisbane River.
“Then we would see some action,” Mr Ahmat quipped.
Former Gulf area cattle station manager Jack Fraser told the meeting the excessive number of crocs in the vast Lower Gulf district were out of hand and should be culled as a matter of urgency.
He said several years ago a large crocodile on a cattle station was found dead on a riverbank. It was cut open to reveal 60 plastic cattle ear tags in its stomach.
“Sixty ear tags represents a loss to the station of about $60,000 worth of stock on today’s market,” Mr Fraser said.
Member for Kennedy Bob Katter received thunderous applause when he stated the obvious: “The Brisbane Government does not care a less about North Queenslanders and it is time we looked after our own problems.
“Home rule is across the world and like Brexit, North Queensland must now take a stance,” referring to a new State of North Queensland.
Member for Mt Isa Robbie Katter said he would present a bill to State Parliament in the May sittings to address runaway crocodile numbers that were of grave danger to the public.
He alluded to making unchecked crocodile attacks a precursor to blocking the May budget should the Labor Government not support his bill.
Meanwhile the Independent Member for Cook, Billy Gordon, did not attend either the Mareeba or Port Douglas meetings held in his electorate.
On his Facebook page after the meetings Mr Gordon claimed he would not be supporting the crocodile removal legislation because he had not been invited to either the Mareeba or Port Douglas meetings.
“The needs of my electorate are quite substantive, the areas of health, education, telecommunications….and tourism are of primary concern to me,” the post said.
“It’s on these issues that hard- nosed negotiations should be had on.
“As a matter of public record I have not been invited to or included in meetings in both Mareeba and Port Douglas to advocate for culling of crocs.”
A KAP spokesman said today Mr Gordon’s office was contacted early on Tuesday morning by staff inviting him to the meeting.
“On Wednesday morning his office put in an apology telling us they were unsure if Mr Gordon would attend,” the spokesman said.
“A meeting flyer was emailed to his office. KAP contacted his staff who said they were unable to send a representative to the meeting.
“KAP staff also left a message on his phone,” the spokesman said.
Mr Gordon is believed to be in Melbourne and was unable to be contacted for comment.
At the Mareeba forum, local Labor Party stalwart Duncan McInnes said most Aboriginal communities and Traditional Owners he had spoken to supported the proposed legislation.