This report, Living with fruit bats: Inquiry into flying-fox management in the eastern states, is a most extraordinary document, and that was a most extraordinary speech by the previous speaker. It scares the hell out of me to listen to someone like that. I represent an electorate. My main office is in a place called Innisfail. In Innisfail on the weekend a human being was ripped to pieces. His arms were torn off. His legs were torn off. This is how a crocodile kills you. It is the most dreadful way to die. You are normally still alive, and then he hides you somewhere where he can feed on you later on. A human being suffered this on the weekend. But the sort of mentality that was exemplified by the previous speaker—possibly all the speakers, I do not know—puts animals above human beings.
I was at university until they found out I was there and booted me out. I did a unit called psychology, and in that unit there was a definition of psychosis—I would use the term ‘madness’ but other people would use the term ‘psychosis’. The definition was ‘a person who had no feelings for his fellow human beings’. This gentlemen that stood up before in this place was really concerned about flying foxes. We were left with the distinct impression that he was really concerned about flying foxes. A resident of his electorate was attacked by two flying foxes. Her arms and parts of her body were torn and shredded. She could not escape from them. They just kept coming at her. In Hendra, a suburb of Brisbane, not far away from where this woman was attacked, there is a virus which is called Hendra virus because that is where it was found. Four of the six people that have contracted Hendra virus have died. It has a death rate of 60 per cent. This woman said, ‘You know, if I’d been attacked by a human being, the human being would have been put in jail for seven years.’ That is the normal incarceration rate when you physically attack someone seriously and violently like that. But, because it is a flying fox, nothing is done to it at all. There is nothing at all that is done to it.
I am a person that takes a great and keen interest in nature. I love nature. I live on a little paradise of 10 acres, where we have nearly 1,000 native trees surrounding us and some 32 species of birds that we can see almost every week from the back landing of our house. If you know nature and you understand nature, then you know that there is a balance. That balance has been there for 40,000 years, since human beings first came to this continent. That balance meant that the number of flying foxes was very, very restrained. They had a very limited food source because the vegetation was not very great in North Queensland. Contrary to popular opinion, they do not actually live in the rainforest very much at all; they live outside of the rainforest. There are some species—very small, minor numbers—that do.
Flying foxes, of course, provided food for the First Australians. There are those in this place who seem to be fairly ignorant of every aspect of nature—and of various other things as well, like the economy. For those of us that do take an interest in these things, you would know that a boomerang is a weapon uniquely used to attack flying foxes. It is not a weapon that will pick up a bird, which flies very swiftly, but it will pick up a flying fox, which flies very slowly. It can pick it up in the trees. Track two or three of them to a tree full of flying foxes and you will get one or two, that is for certain. There was no doubt that they were a small but significant proportion of the diet of the people that lived here for 40,000 years. Most of the people that live here now have only been here for 150 years. Almost the entire population came out in the gold rushes, so there was no-one really living here, until 150 years ago, that was European.
That a person could stand up in this place and advocate for the protection of flying foxes—are these people not aware of the 60 Minutes program where that little boy died in the most agonising pain conceivable by human beings? For those—and there would be many of us—that read and love the Wilbur Smith novels, the main event of his first novel was the death of the hero’s best friend from rabies. Lyssavirus is just a form of rabies. It is the worst possible way to die. He, in fact, shot his friend rather than see him die in the way that he was dying. This little boy died, and it was filmed on 60 Minutes, and yet there has not been one speech in this place saying, ‘Get out there with a shotgun and get rid of the damn things!’
They are a filthy menace. They have a DNA very similar to human beings, and that means that they carry the diseases that will attack human beings. Let me name them: lyssavirus, which no-one has survived in Australia. That little boy died from it, off the member for Dawson’s area—and I am sure he will feel as passionately about it as I do. They carry Hendra virus, which has killed four out of the six people that have contracted it. Let me take you to the coalface. Let me rub the faces of some of the stupid people that are elected to represent the people of Australia in this place in the gutter of their own creation. I speak with passion because I feel passionate about it. In this case, two horses contracted the disease. I rode one of those horses—I ride one of the most beautiful horses at the front of the Ingham procession at the annual Australian Italian Festival. I will not name the family, because they have already been to hell and back.
When they walked down the street, everyone left the street. They would not be served in shops. It was just like they had leprosy. Everyone knew them—they were a very prominent family—and for two or three months of their lives and for a very long time afterwards, people would not associate with them or have anything to do with them whatsoever. There was a huge bat colony on the edge of their property outside of Ingham, and they were not allowed to remove them or even move them on. And when we attempted to move them on, there was the environment department, who are a bunch of people that blood-suck off the people of Australia—they produce nothing; they do not even produce any flow of information that would be of use to anyone. They are absorbing thousands of millions of dollars of government money and delivering absolutely nothing back to us.
I speak with great sensitivity on the issue because I represent the jungles of Australia—almost all of Australia’s jungles are in the Kennedy electorate, with a little tiny bit in the electorate of the member for Dawson, who is suffering from an inferiority complex here—in New South Wales, where they have very prominent cultivation that they make a lot of money out of, at Nimbin and those places! But I represent the vast bulk of Australia’s jungles. I also represent, along with the member for Dawson, almost all of the populated area of the Great Barrier Reef. We deserve, and should get, a flow of information.
I will get to the sort of information we get. The great authorities from the university in Townsville told us that the dugong were vanishing, that they were an endangered species, and they quoted the figures of where the dugong numbers had dropped clean in half. Then there was a report, in this case done by the Institute of Marine Science—and there is a body that does earn its money; it gives us a flow of information that has an understanding of the real world in which we live—that said, ‘Yes, the numbers have dropped clean in half in the bottom half of the Barrier Reef, and they doubled in the northern half of the Barrier Reef.’
We simply want to get rid of the bats—we do not want to study them and we do not want to spend a fortune studying them. We want to get rid of them, and it is very simple: you put a very loud noise under all the trees, and they go away. I would prefer to get them to catch lead poisoning, but anyway.
Chamber Federation Chamber on 21/03/2017 Item Federation Chamber – COMMITTEES – Standing Committee on Environment and Energy – Report Speaker :Katter, Bob, M