The Katter’s Australian Party proposal for new legislation to remove or cull crocodiles in northern waterways has received wide support at meetings held last week in Mareeba, Innisfail and Port Douglas.
The recent death of a spearfisherman and the mauling of a man at Innisfail by crocodiles prompted the meetings, called by the Member for Dalrymple, Shane Knuth, to gauge public support for crocodile removal, culling, egg collection and safari hunting.
Mr Knuth told the Mareeba meeting 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.
In response, Mareeba’s former deputy mayor, Evan McGrath, said crocodiles had been sighted close to town and said farmers had been menaced by them when checking their water pumps in creeks and channels.
“Their numbers are out of control in areas where crocodiles have never been seen before.”
Mr Knuth told a supportive audience of more than 100 that “enough was enough”.
“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.”
Former Gulf area cattle station manager Jack Fraser told the meeting that several years ago, after cutting open the stomach of a large crocodile found dead on a riverbank, 60 plastic cattle eartags were revealed, representing a loss of $60,000 on today’s market.
He said the number of crocodiles in the lower Gulf district were out of hand and should be culled as a matter of urgency.
Member for Mt Isa, Rob Katter, said he would present a bill to Parliament’s May sitting.
He has already said that if the ALP government does not support the bill, he will consider not supporting the government’s May budget.
North Queensland ALP stalwart Duncan McInnes told one of the meetings most Aboriginal communities and traditional owners he had spoken to supported the proposed legislation.
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 Mr Gordon said he would not be supporting the crocodile removal legislation.
“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.”
He also said he had not been invited to either the Mareeba or Port Douglas meetings, but a KAP spokesman confirmed that his office had been contacted by their staff.
“On Wednesday morning his office put in an apology telling us they were unsure if Mr Gordon would attend,” the spokesman said.
Northern resentment to southern decision-making was inflamed when the Member for Kennedy, Bob Katter, told gatherings that “the Brisbane government does not care less about north Queenslanders and it is time we looked after our own problems”, said to have received thunderous applause.
“Home rule is across the world and like Brexit, north Queensland must now take a stance,” he said, referring to a move for a state of North Queensland.