About 18 months ago I had a good laugh at the expense of then Queensland Opposition Leader Campbell Newman's plan to "move on" colonies of flying foxes which have taken up residence in urban areas. As I pointed out, the idea sounds good in a soundbite but is rather absurd in practice since flying foxes are not easy to herd.
Of course we all know that since then Newman has become Queensland Premier with such a thumping majority that he thinks everyone now has to do his bidding, even wild animals. Every silly thing he said as opposition leader has now become law - including move-on powers against giant fruit bats. He is annoyed that some local governments are not falling into line, and is threatening to override them, arrange for the bat move-on himself (at least get one of his slaves to do it - or several!) then send the local council the bill.
Sometimes I think I might be one of the few sane people left in Queensland but the Brisbane Times reassures me I'm not alone, and that other people more qualified than me agree with me on this subject.
Senior Lecturer at the James Cook University School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Dr Jon Luly, has trashed the idea saying anyone with elementary knowledge of bats knew moving colonies did not work.
"It is remarkably stupid," he said. "Because it will basically achieve absolutely nothing in terms of solving whatever problem he thinks there is and it is very likely to make the circumstances worse. It’s taking Queensland back to the dark ages in terms of animal management practice."
Dr Luly said there was a "very strong risk" of bats ending up closer to people in an "uncontrolled" way if colonies were moved and the problem had been made worse in Charters Towers by trying to move colonies. He said bats "almost immediately" moved to a place worse for humans than the original place they were moved from.
"The Premier is just running off at the mouth because he’s got a few vocal people in his ear,’’ Dr Luly said. "He thinks the simple solution is to go and run around shooting things and electrocuting things which is the kind of attitude Joh Bjelke-Petersen had, not only with animals, but with greenies in some respects. It’s a very primitive view of natural resource management."
He said the primary issue with moving bat colonies was there was no way to predict where the bats would end up. Dr Luly said the solution was to make sure people got the correct information to inform their decision about whether they could live with a bat colony or not. He said it was a "very rare" case which would support moving a bat colony and even then this rarely solved the problem.
Of course Newman believes he knows better and is confident that the bats will bend to his will if he is persistent enough. Sadly, he also believes that if he shuts his eyes firmly enough climate change will go away so he has abolished all the government's climate-change related programs and wound back a large number of environmental protections in the name of "cutting green tape".
I have heard that in his second term, Newman plans to solve tidal erosion by commanding the waves to stop five metres from the shore, and that he will simultaneously solve the problems of flooding and drought by commanding the rivers to flow inland on alternate days in the wet season and inundate arid Western Queensland.
"What manner of man is this, that even the wind and waves obey him?"