Most grey nomads may be thinking about heading south pretty soon but they will be leaving behind them a red hot debate about the crocodile situation in the north.
Former Queensland premier, Campbell Newman, has just weighed in with a blistering attack on the state government there for failing to protect people from crocodiles … and he says more deaths are inevitable unless something more is done.
Two people have died in crocodile attacks in northern Australia this year, most recently in May when a 46-year-old woman was taken off Cape Tribulation.
There have also been a series of attacks on dogs and near-misses for people on beaches and around mangrove-lined rivers and creeks. Crocodiles have also been spotted near some popular swimming holes.
The Environment Department told the Australian newspaper that 40 crocodiles had been trapped and removed from the Cairns area alone this year, up from 19 last year. However, few were big enough to pose a serious threat, with just five longer than 2 metres.
Mr Newman blamed bureaucrats for blocking programs to shift crocodiles away from population centres in the north and to control colonies of fruit bats that were an increasing nuisance in many centres.
“This head-in-the-sand attitude can’t continue because ultimately we will see a child being taken or a fisherman out there enjoying a Sunday afternoon will be taken,” he told the Australian. “There are two Queenslands. There is inner-city Brisbane, where people say you shouldn’t do anything about the crocs or the bats, and there are people who have got to live with it in regional communities.”
Mr Newman supports the expansion of removal programs over the cull demanded by federal independent MP Bob Katter.
However, the state government has defended its actions to date and says it has committed $5.8 million over three years for crocodile management.
Experts say there are more than 200,000 saltwater crocodiles in northern Australia.