‘Technicality’ bites controversial croc control laws

Savannah Meacham |

A push to make crocodile hunting legal in Queensland has been ruled out due to a technicality.
A push to make crocodile hunting legal in Queensland has been ruled out due to a technicality.

A move toward crocodile hunting and big game tourism in Queensland has been snapped shut by a “technicality”, backbenchers say.

Katter’s Australian Party’s proposed crocodile control and conservation laws have been rejected after being ruled to be “out of order”.

It set out to establish a Queensland crocodile authority based in Cairns, with an advisory committee to provide recommendations.

The proposed laws also had provisions for Indigenous landholders to host crocodile hunting and egg harvesting with the potential for significant cash returns.

A move to big game tourism and crocodile hunting is already under consideration in the Northern Territory.

KAP’s bill would have also allowed the removal of crocodiles from popular waterways, either by being killed or relocated to a sanctuary or farm.

A crocodile in a cage.
The bill proposed making it easier to remove crocodiles from popular waterways. (HANDOUT/DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND INNOVATION)

However, Speaker Curtis Pitt this week ruled the bill was out of order and would need to be discharged or withdrawn because it was introduced without a message of recommendation from the Governor.

This is because it contained an appropriation for the authority to have expenses paid when previous bills did not allow that.

KAP MP Shane Knuth – who introduced the bill – was outraged by the Speaker’s decision, claiming it showed the failures of the parliamentary process.

“To have the bill withdrawn because it called for the creation of a voluntary advisory committee, who are unpaid but entitled to claim travel expenses for meetings, is absurd,” he said.

“In my 20 years in parliament, I have never been forced to withdraw a private member’s bill on what I would call a technicality.”

KAP state leader Robbie Katter said the decision was disappointing for far north Queenslanders who feel abandoned by policy makers.

“(Politicians) have decided to gleefully pick out some technicalities, and you might even say semantics, to put it down,” he told AAP.

“The focus is politics instead of looking after the Queensland people.”

Mr Katter said crocodile control policy was “unsavoury” for Brisbane politicians but an increase in the reptile’s numbers was leading to a life or death situation for far north residents.

“There is a very high risk of a violent death for people if it remains unaddressed and the problem is not going away,” he said.

Mr Katter said the bill was not about destroying biodiversity or animals.

He believed the proposed law’s focus was mitigating the risk of attacks to improve the region’s livability.

“Ministers from Brisbane are preaching to us about crocodile management and what we can or can’t do and advising us to put more stickers and signs up telling people that we can no longer swim in swimming holes we’ve used all our lives,” he said.

The party vowed to reintroduce the bill after the election in what it said was a bid to save the lives of far north Queenslanders.