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.”
November 16, 2017 – The number of life savers available to patrol Port Douglas beaches will continue to fall because parents are no longer enrolling their children in Nipper programs for fear they will become victims of a crocodile attack.
State KAP Leader Robbie Katter and Michael Bolt, vice president of the Port Douglas Surf Life Saving Club were united in their call for immediate action on the growing crocodile menace.
“This is the tip of the iceberg of the unforeseen repercussions due to the expanding territories crocs are claiming which are impacting on North Queensland communities,’’ Robbie said.
“Less life savers patrolling beaches, tourism numbers dropping, loss of the Northern Queensland lifestyle and water sports operators suffering business downturns, all due to government inaction on removing crocodiles.
“It’s not rocket science.’’
Mr Bolt said a 20 per cent drop in Nipper members at the Port Douglas S.L.S.C also meant less parents were available to help patrol beaches.
“The same problems are being experienced at Port Douglas, Ellis Beach, Mission Beach and in Cairns. Parents are telling us that 100 per cent the reason they are not enrolling their kids in Nipper programs is due to fear of a crocodile attack.
“When we get to the stage there are not enough people to patrol the beaches the club will have to fold – that’s not good for community water safety.
“We have had to close Port Douglas Beach seven times in the past year due to crocodile sightings. The numbers seem to be increasing every year. Five years ago we didn’t have this problem at all.’’
Robbie Katter said commitment to the KAP’s croc solution would be a condition of support for either major party to form Government.
“This is a priority issue for all members of the KAP. We’re a regionally focused party and we’re sick of seeing our lifestyles and the safety of our people undermined by decisions made in Brisbane,” Robbie said.
KAP Member for Dalrymple and candidate for Hill Shane Knuth said the Safer Waterways Bill may set a new record for being the longest bill ever debated.
“We introduced this bill in parliament in May. I would have thought the government and the opposition would have wanted to get the bill through quickly so it’s benefits become tangible and people can be protected,’’ he said.
“Instead they used their numbers in parliament to ensure debate was put out until 2018.’’
KAP candidate for Cook Gordon Rasmussen said the people of Cook wanted actions, not counts.
“People need to come before crocodiles – whether they are lifesavers or the general public, their safety is not negotiable.’’
Letter to editor
Mrs Terri Irwin from Australia Zoo near Weipa has placed the lives of salt water crocodiles above that of people.
It’s a fact the government purchased a Cape York property for $6 million to hand over to Australia Zoo some years ago.
But how can Mrs Irwin place animal lives over humans?
I have been told by tourists who visited Australia Zoo near Weipa, Mrs Irwin’s wildlife officers have tagged more than 130 saltwater crocodiles in a short stretch of the Wenlock River.
The river ecology simply cannot tolerate such a high incidence of estuarine crocodiles. Soon these crocs will start preying on each other because the fish population and any other animals on the croc menu will have been eaten out.
Indigenous people have told me there are far too many saltwater crocs and fish numbers have been seriously depleted in Peninsula waterways because of the explosion in numbers.
Mrs Irwin said on radio that more croc warning signs needed to be erected on beaches and at airports and schools should educate children that they can no longer go near any water anywhere in the north.
How does Mrs Irwin expect tourist operators to promote beaches and rivers for swimming and fishing when it is too dangerous to go near the water? What about the life savers?
Do indigenous people get a say over croc management? After all most of the crocs live in rivers and creeks on Aboriginal controlled land and coastal waterways north of Townsville.
Why does Mrs Irwin who does not live in North Queensland feel she should have more say than indigenous and local residents over croc management?
The ALP and LNP refuse to fast track KAP Safe Waterways legislation that will help protect tourists and northern inhabitants from attacks.
Twenty years ago we did not have this problem in the north.
How many more people and animals need to be devoured by the large, rapacious crocodile population before the party duopoly wakes up?
Gordon Rasmussen, KAP candidate for Cook
Young dog taken by huge croc near Innisfail
Two days after a huge crocodile devoured a six-month-old puppy in North Queensland, the major parties have refused to declare KAP’s Safer Waterways bill as urgent.
KAP’s Shane Knuth today sought leave to fast track the Safer Waterways bill so it could be voted on by October. Labor and the LNP ganged up to block Shane’s request, meaning Queensland will have to wait until at least the end of March next year for a vote.
In seeking leave, Shane read out a letter from a constituent (who did not want to be named):
“We live on the banks of the South Johnstone River in Mourilyan, North Queensland. On Tuesday afternoon we lost our six-month-old purebred white Sheppard to a very large crocodile. As we live very close to the river our dog had gone down to the water’s edge, failing to call her up to our yard we went down to try and get her when the crocodile just so quietly grabbed her and took her into the water. This was absolutely terrifying for both my partner and myself as we weren’t aware it was there and it could easily have been us.
About half hour or so after our puppy was taken on Tuesday, we were sitting there looking over the river when another two crocs showed up! It was like feeding time at the zoo.
Please help us to do something about these monsters, we need dogs for security reasons, but it’s simply too dangerous for them and traumatic for us.”
It’s the second puppy they’ve lost to a crocodile on their property in less than a year.
Shane Knuth introduced the Safer Waterways bill on 25 May. The legislation would make it mandatory for rogue crocodiles to be removed from populated Queensland waterways. It would also empower landowners to manage crocodiles on their own land.
“I cannot believe that Labor and the LNP don’t think this urgent,” Shane said. “This is clearly a safety issue. This family’s puppy being eaten on Tuesday is not an isolated incident.”
Shane tabled four news articles from the last 12 months; Croc kills family dog in Innisfail; Croc kills spear fisherman in Palmer point; Croc kills tourist at Thornton Beach; Report confirms that Queensland’s saltwater crocodile populations are rising.
“If someone else is killed by a crocodile, the government and LNP will have a lot of explaining to do. We need to act now,” Shane said.
At a Mareeba Chamber of Commerce meeting on Wednesday , Environment and Heritage Protection Chief Prosecutions officer David Cook, agreed to remove all crocodiles from the Mareeba area after positive sightings had been confirmed by the department. Helicopter surveillance would begin starting July 24, 2017, Mr Cook said.
He agreed to give local crocodile farm owner Juergen Arnold a permit, allowing him to remove crocodiles from the area for relocation to his croc farm.
“Mr Arnold will be handed a permit this weekend,” Mr Cook told the meeting.
After the meeting Mr Cook admitted, following Australia-wide publicity, the attack on a cane worker had brought the crocodile plague in the Mareeba farming district to a head.
The aerial surveillance would initially be carried out over one day, but Mr Cook said officers would respond immediately to any sightings. The EHP officers agreed if a crocodile could not be trapped or caught and transported to a croc farm it would be culled.
The Safer Waterways bill, designed to remove crocs from populated areas and tabled by Member for Dalrymple Shane Knuth, is before the Environment Committee for consideration.
Mr Knuth however, fears the Labor Government will attempt to delay its passage until after the upcoming state election.
“I intend to move a motion at the next sittings to have the bill debated. We can’t afford any more accidents like the Mareeba attack,” Mr Knuth said.
A pastor in Zimbabwe was eaten by crocodiles when he decided to emulate Jesus, and attempt to walk on water. The pastor was trying to recreate the infamous biblical legend, which has been called a miracle by some, but his choice of waterways led to his demise.
According to Zimbabwe Today, Jonathan Mthethwa with the Saint of the Last Days Church attempted to perform the feat in a water body nicknamed “Crocodile River.” The river is widely known for its infestation with the deadly reptiles. Witnesses said Mthethwa made it 100 feet before crocodiles viciously attacked the man. The pastor had walked out into the water and was attempting to rise from it when he was brutally attacked.
Deacon Nkosi, a church member, reportedly said, “They finished him in a couple of minutes. All that was left of him when they finished eating him is a pair of sandals and his underwear floating above the water.” Nkosi then said, “We still don’t understand how this happened because he fasted and prayed the whole week.” But the crocodiles made it obvious that they didn’t care much about the fasting beforehand. Emergency crews were on the scene within 30 of the initial attack, but it was all over by then. All they found was the single sandal and the underwear.
Before attempting the feat, Mthethwa brought his congregation to the river to witness his attempts to walk on water. Horrified members of the Saint of the Last Days Church said the pastor was completely devoured in a “couple of minutes”.
“The pastor taught us about faith on Sunday last week. He promised he would demonstrate his faith to us today, but he, unfortunately, ended up drowning and getting eaten by 3 large crocodiles in front of us,” said Deacon Nkosi.
It only took three crocodiles less than five minutes to completely consume a full grown man. But crocodile attacks happen often in Zimbabwe. Efforts have even been taken to reduce the number of crocodiles in certain waterways to protect people.
A police spokesman said, “This year we had too much rains and it is obvious crocodiles are certainly there in our rivers. Villagers should not risk their lives by swimming or trying to cross the flooded rivers.” It seems like common sense – to not try to walk on water in crocodile infested rivers. Tempting fate certainly isn’t for the faint of heart. Or those afraid of death.
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.
Two weeks ago an experienced spear fisherman, Warren Hughes, swimming a reasonable distance from the mouth of the Russell River, north of Innisfail, was partially eaten by a 4.3 metre crocodile.
His family and friends are shocked beyond belief because death by crocodile attack is a very unpleasant way to die.
Now it seems this croc had been previously captured by wildlife officers then released because it did not show any signs of aggression. The Russell River is known locally to be crawling with crocodiles and has been for many years.
A prominent and respected professional member of the North Queensland community reported a large crocodile in the Russell River to the Department of Environment in recent months.
KAP Member for Kennedy, Bob Katter’s office has been informed that allegedly the reported crocodile was then trapped by the Department and released again as it did not show aggressive behaviour and was thought not to be a threat. It is said to have measured 4.3 metres.
This croc that attacked the Cairns spearfisherman was shot dead by wildlife officers last Tuesday. Any person living in the far north knows instinctively a crocodile from 500 mm to five metres long is a threat to humans.
This comes just two weeks after the State Government announced its crocodile management plan, where ‘remove and release’ are considered a key feature.
Mr Katter said, “We are saying you need croc culling, whether you put them into farms or whether you shoot them.
“The fundamental failure of the Government is that is has not come to grips with the grave danger to people, human beings from flying foxes and crocodiles. There couldn’t be a worse way to die.
“The way a crocodile kills you is just horrific. Who would impose that danger upon the people of your state?”
“The Government is talking about management programs that will scientifically assess the numbers and monitor and remove… ‘Remove, yeah to where?’ Well, North Queenslanders are laughing.
Seven years ago, a former member of Parliament had a mob of horses running in a leased paddock that fronted the freshwater upper reaches of the Russell River upstream from the Bruce Highway bridge .
There were several mares and foals running in the paddock over 12 months. When the owner came back to get the horses there were no foals and two mares were also missing.
A local farmer said he saw a crocodile attack a foal on the water’s edge so it was not hard to work out what had happened to the other horses.
An Aboriginal community member from Cape York Peninsula told Cairns News a week ago that not only saltwater crocs are in plague proportions but the smaller freshwater crocodile has bred profusely in creeks and rivers on the Peninsula over the past 40 years.
Dozens of ‘freshies’ were counted last year in a small, seasonal waterway just north of the Mitchell River in a nearly dry hole measuring 50 metres by five metres.
This was not normal and their numbers were so high that “not a fish has been left in our creeks and waterholes because the freshies cleaned up the lot,” said the traditional owner.
He said the explosion of crocodile numbers had unbalanced the environment and he doubted the barramundi and catfish numbers would ever be restored.
Mr Katter said he supported crocodile safari hunting run by Aboriginal communities to supplement their dwindling income in areas that once supported thousands of cattle and many jobs for indigenous people.
The Douglas Shire Council at Port Douglas is worried their tourist town will be bypassed by overseas visitors because of large crocodiles found at their beaches. Over the past three weeks three dogs have been taken by crocs while walking along their famous beaches. Late last year a woman was killed by a large croc just north of Port Douglas at Daintree.