The federal government’s decision not to allow crocodile hunting safaris in the Northern Territory has been derided as “a croc” by the NT government.
Two NT ministers have accused federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt of being shortsighted and ill-informed.
“Canberra needs to take its foot off the Territory’s throat,” Minister for Land Resource Management, Willem Westra van Holthe said in a statement on Thursday.
“Crocodile safari hunting has the potential to create real employment for indigenous people in remote parts of the Territory.”
Mr Westra van Holthe said the NT government had extensively consulted with traditional owners and lodged an application for a one-year crocodile safari trial, under a scientifically researched plan that demonstrated the economic benefits to the Territory.
Under the existing crocodile management plan, the NT government is able to harvest up to 500 crocodiles from the wild each year, while the safari proposal sought to harvest 50 crocodiles from within the existing quota on a one-year trial basis.
It was suggested that crocodile safari packages could cost between $20,000 to $50,000, appealing to high-end hunters from around the world seeking to bag themselves a croc.
Mr Westra van Holthe said the proposal was humane, with animal welfare standards maintained by having a conservation officer and traditional owner attend every safari.
“We are severely disappointed with Greg Hunt’s short sighted and ill-informed decision,” he said.
It was taking away work opportunities for indigenous people who needed it the most, said Bess Price, Minister for Parks and Wildlife.
“Greg Hunt has made a decision which will do nothing to improve the lives of indigenous Territorians living in remote communities,” she said.
The decision was at odds with the Commonwealth government’s priorities of developing the north and ending welfare dependency, she said, as well as boosting tourism.
The NT government is now exploring alternative pathways to make crocodile safari hunting a reality.
It may be able to legislate to permit the safaris but could face an obstacle with foreign hunters being unable to take crocodile carcasses out of Australia without a federal permit.