Bob Katter has sparked debate by claiming children should be armed with low-powered air rifles to help kill cane toads in a controversial new proposal, just hours after Pauline Hanson called for dole claimants to help eradicate the world’s largest toad from Australia.
Aussie MP Katter, 73, has claimed that giving kids the rifles – which he insisted wouldn’t have enough power to do any real harm to other people – would keep them busy and help them earn some pocket money. The $2million proposal would see each child given a 40 cent per toad reward.
Speaking to reporters in Townsville on Thursday, and filmed on camera by Nine News, Katter said: “The kids will be doing something useful by protecting our natural wonderland.”
He added: “It’ll give a bit of fun for our kids and a bit of pocket money for them as well.”
Asked if it’s appropriate to give children rifles, Katter reportedly insisted that they would be low-powered enough to not pose any other real threat.
“Some of my friends have tried to hurt people but that’s not going to happen – they’re pretty harmless,” he added.
Queensland MP Bob Katter wants to give Australian kids air rifles to deal with the state's cane-toad epidemic. Great idea, or just plain stupid? #9News pic.twitter.com/dScW2d7vBr
— 9News Australia (@9NewsAUS) January 10, 2019
The MP insisted the proposal would keep kids busy and also teach them the value of earning money while improving the environment and eradicating the huge threat.
“Up close it’s just squeeze the trigger – end of story,” Katter added, according to the Courier Mail. “That’s simple instead of running around with golf clubs and spades, plastic bags and suffocating and pouring stuff on them – it’s just not working.”
To send his message home, Katter held up a dead cane toad he himself captured days before, and his powerful message got a mixed response from Aussies.
Many disagreed with the proposal, with one writing on Twitter: “If only Katter had a brain,” while another added: “Yeah it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.”
However others agreed with him, with one commenting: “Kids would love it.”
It comes after Pauline Hanson wrote to Prime Minister Scott Morrison to suggest a three-month long “collect-a-toad” campaign to “eradicate the pest species”.
And, according to the Courier Mail, the One Nation leader would like to see job seekers in receipt of Work for the Dole payments also take part in a “worthwhile” scheme.
“I would also encourage you to introduce a three-month bounty over summer months to help reduce the breeding numbers,” Hanson is said to have written in a letter to Morrison.
Read more: ‘Kill cane toads to get your welfare’: Pauline Hanson’s plan for the dole
“A 10 cent reward for the collection of each cane toad… would encourage most Australians living with the pest to take an active role in reducing their numbers until a biological measure is developed.”
The federally funded proposed plan would be carried out in Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia and the Northern Territory and would see people receive 10 cents for every toad they’re able to catch, in a similar move to the container deposit scheme.
Captured cane toads, which have venom-secreting poison glands, would be taken to council collection zones.
If passed, the plan could be taken up by those on Work for the Dole which requires eligible job seekers to carry out approved activities for six months each year in order to keep receiving their income support if they have mutual obligation requirements.