A round table conference and a phone call to a senior bureaucrat was all it took to pull the State Government into line over its attempt to plunder the assets of the Port Douglas Marine Rescue group.
At the invitation of the Port Douglas Marine Rescue Volunteer group (QF10)commander Ross Wood, KAP candidate for Cook Gordon Rasmussen and Bob Katter were invited to discuss the impasse between the Coast Guard national management and QF10.
The National Coast Guard had seized the assets of QF10 including their sea rescue boat and vehicles because the locally funded group refused to hand over $300,000 in a bank account and the ‘Tin Shed’ building, provided by community fund-raising.
The National Coast Guard, in a similar grab by the Emergency Services Department trying to take over the Rural Fire Service under the recent LNP Government, the coast guard wanted to absorb QF10 into its bureaucracy.
The Port Douglas group of volunteers refused and it seems Bob Katter’s call to the Minister’s office yielded results.
Katter told the Chief of Staff: “ …look, I am not looking to pick a fight with you but you had better fix this up….”
The staffer told Mr Katter a delegation from the department would arrive in Port Douglas the next day.
Combined with mediation bythe Douglas Shire Council the matter was resolved and after 10 weeks out of action the boating public will again be protected by volunteer coast guard crews.
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
Katters Australia Party will be conducting a series of public meetings beginning Wednesday April 12, at Mareeba, Innisfail and Port Douglas to gauge support for crocodile egg removal and safari hunting legislation to be introduced into the Queensland parliament.
Further meetings will be held at Mossman and Innisfail where salt water crocodiles have attacked humans or animals and menaced tourists over the past few months.
Where: Mareeba Bowls Club, Anzac Avenue at 1.30 to 2.30pm, Wednesday April 12.
Innisfail Senior Citizens Hall, Owen St, Innisfail, 5.30 to 7.30pm, Wednesday April 12
Port Douglas Community Hall, Thursday, 9.30 to 11.30am, Thursday April 13
Bob Katter, Robbie Katter Member for Mt Isa and Shane Knuth Member for Dalrymple will be in attendance.
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.