shoe croc, don’t bother me

Ok, so these ones do. And that title is a really bad pun. But fresh from talking about a sticky situation involving the Coogee Bay Hotel, we have been confronted with our own PR crisis.

For those of you not familiar with the story here’s the prĂ©cis, the tourism dependent community of Magnetic Island was recently in lock down as a rogue crocodile terrorised the bays and streets of the island. But the plot thickened – it turned out the EPA, in its infinite wisdom, had captured the crocodile in Far North Queensland and released it near Townsville. Then, as it began wreaking havoc upon the poor island, they couldn’t catch it. This of course led to calls from the ever reliable walking quote machine, Bob Katter, for a croc cull. Crocodile leather is desirable for shoes, hand bags and other accesories – they also interfere with our right to enjoyment of nature – or so the argument goes. It was eventually caught – only to die in captivity a day later – an autopsy revealed that the croc’s stomache was lined with plastic bags, and other rubbish which led to its untimely demise. Untimely, arguably because it should have died three weeks earlier.

This was a PR nightmare for all involved (except Bob Katter).

In particular:
The EPA now stand accused of killing some small businesses due to their ridiculous “crocs in space” program. They had an electronic tag on the crocodile and still couldn’t find it. They mishandled the situation allowing operator after operator to front the media lambasting them and demanding compensation – the State Government pretty much ruled it out on the spot – and now can count on no votes from Magnetic Island at the upcoming election. Even the greenies hate them because the croc died. It’s all their fault.

The Magnetic Island operators themselves have done as much as possible to tarnish the region’s image – by yelling “CROC” from the roof tops and going about dealing with the Government in an inappropriate manner. They shot themselves in the foot (they should have just shot the croc). The local tourism industry – Magnetic Island is the “jewel in our crown.” That’s the official line. I know because I wrote it. Now, in the mind of the uneducated consumer it is no longer a pristine island destination with safe beaches – it’s a garbage filled wasteland populated by deadly crocs. The tourism minister proclaimed crocs as “good for tourism.” That, according to those on the ground was untrue. That line only works when describing Australia Zoo and other crocodile farms. Crocodiles on public beaches are bad for tourism. The plastic bags, in all likelihood, came from far north Queensland, where the waters are messy. I wanted to run a media release on that basis titled “Far North Queensland full of old Cairns and plastic bags” – but I was outvoted. Common sense prevailed.


Leah says:

In defense of the EPA (although I think what they did was still stupid), they moved the croc to the Haughton River as an experiment to see if crocodiles would be happy to live in more populated areas, and it swam up to Townsville. Stupid, yes, but there was some method to the madness. Secondly, the transmitter it had on was programmed to only transmit once every five days (or so I’ve been lead to believe) to extend the battery life. They didn’t think they’d need to know where it was every second of every day. Their bad.

Re: “garbage filled wasteland”: that croc could have ingested those plastic bags anywhere between here and the Haughton, or who knows, even back up in the Gulf or wherever it came from. But I think you suggested that anyway.

I think the Liberal MP who commented on it hit it on the head: if the EPA wanted to find out how the croc coped in heavily populated areas, we should have moved in to the south-east corner. See how they like it. See if it’d be such a tourism drawcard for Surfers’ Paradise.