Many of the minor parties vying for votes in the Queensland election will already be very familiar to Australians.
But Pauline Hanson, Clive Palmer and the Katters are not the only minor party players worth watching in the lead up to October 31.
It is also a prime example of how issues in northern Queensland can vary wildly from those in the south.
North Queensland First
North Queensland First was set up in October 2019 by member for Whitsunday, Jason Costigan.Glenn Hunt/ AAP
NQ First is aimed at appealing to voters disillusioned with the major parties. It lists establishing a separate state of “North Queensland” among its primary aims and is promoting itself as a possible balance of power holder.
North Queensland’s history of feeling separate
Some north Queenslanders feel every inch of their distance from the state government in Brisbane: the notion of resources being extracted by a negligent, remote government has featured in northern politics for over a century.
This “croc culling” polling has a focus on “public safety”, according to Costigan.
If there is a crocodile on one of our beaches in a populated area, perhaps a tourist spot or in a swimming hole or where workers are at risk of being attacked, it’ll be shot by a licensed contractor whose job it will be to go in and deal with the problem as a matter of urgency.
Do Costigan’s crocodile proposals make sense?
By the time Costigan released his policy, that crocodile had already been euthanised by government wildlife officers. The current Queensland government crocodile management plan allows for the removal of crocodiles located near centres of population or that attack humans. So, further legislation, as proposed by Costigan, would not speed up that process.
In fact, NQ First’s enthusiasm for killing more large crocodiles might be counterproductive and increase the number of crocodile attacks.
Why do politicians want to kill crocodiles?
Northern Australia is crocodile country, and saltwater crocodiles are capable of killing and eating humans. Australian crocodiles have been fully protected from hunting since 1974 and populations have recovered from heavy hunting after the second world war.
Politicians talking tough about crocodiles are speaking to residents of northern Australia’s suburban frontier, which is pressing into crocodile habitat as urban areas expand. Crocodile sightings and attacks are increasing as more humans spend time in regions where crocodiles have always lived.
Politicians also target crocodiles because hunting — of other animals, particularly pigs — is popular in the north and big game hunting is big business. Australia still has a safari hunting industry, which started by hunting crocodiles, but now targets other species.
Will being tough on crocodiles help Costigan?
Costigan has been elected to the seat of Whitsunday three times before, but all three times he was a member of the LNP and only won by slender margins (in 2017 he won by 372 votes). In 2020, he faces numerous challengers.
Both major parties are fielding candidates in Whitsunday, as are the Greens, One Nation, Katter’s Australian Party and the United Australia Party.www.shutterstock.com
Those last three parties are all vying to occupy similar populist territory to Costigan.
Whether suggesting crocodiles should be shot will help Costigan retain his seat remains to be seen. One danger is NQ First’s policy may in fact alienate tourist operators and residents who live off the crocodile’s back.
However, promising even a limited ability to “shoot to kill” crocodiles will still resonate with some north Queenslanders.
- ^ balance of power (www.abc.net.au)
- ^ allegations (www.brisbanetimes.com.au)
- ^ withdrawn it (www.abc.net.au)
- ^ separate state (www.nqfirst.com.au)
- ^ separatist movement (www.qhatlas.com.au)
- ^ popular cause (www.townsvillebulletin.com.au)
- ^ Remember Quexit? 5 reasons you should not take your eyes off the Queensland election (theconversation.com)
- ^ over a century (www.austlii.edu.au)
- ^ 2013 federal election (www.unitedaustraliaparty.org.au)
- ^ Katter’s Australian Party (www.kap.org.au)
- ^ Katter’s Australian Party (www.brisbanetimes.com.au)
- ^ Bob Katter himself (theconversation.com)
- ^ shoot to kill (jasoncostigan.com.au)
- ^ crocodile attack (www.abc.net.au)
- ^ already been euthanised (www.des.qld.gov.au)
- ^ crocodile management plan (environment.des.qld.gov.au)
- ^ increases the risks (www.australiangeographic.com.au)
- ^ crocodile country (bie.ala.org.au)
- ^ fully protected (www.qhatlas.com.au)
- ^ primal human fears (www.nma.gov.au)
- ^ Queensland's unpredictable election begins. Expect a close campaign focused on 3 questions (theconversation.com)
- ^ suburban frontier (link.springer.com)
- ^ are increasing (www.publish.csiro.au)
- ^ safari hunting industry (www.tandfonline.com)
- ^ rugged Australian individualism (journal.media-culture.org.au)
- ^ restricted to the wealthy (theconversation.com)
- ^ seat of Whitsunday (www.abc.net.au)
- ^ 372 votes (www.abc.net.au)
- ^ questions about donations (www.abc.net.au)
- ^ Fundraising questions have interrupted the Queensland LNP's election campaign. What does the law say? (theconversation.com)