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Queensland: television personality, conservationist and crocodile hunter, Steve Irwin, dies after stingray attack.



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This transcript has been prepared by a source external to the Parliamentary Library.

 

It may not have been checked against the broadcast or in any other w ay. Freedom from error, omissions or misunderstandings cannot be guaranteed.

 

For the purposes of quoting verbatim from a transcript, it is advisable to verify the transcript against the broadcast.

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PM

 

Monday 4 September 2006

Queensland: television personality, conservationist and crocodile hunter, Steve Irwin, dies after stingray attack

 

MARK COLVIN: Television loves enthusiasm, and Steve Irwin was enthusiasm personified. There was something about the unquenchable delight and fascination that so obviously drove the "crikey!" man in his encounters with wild Australia that's made his sudden death hard to take in. 

 

Irwin's stock-in-trade was showing us that the creatures some of us found terrifying were not so frightening after all. And now one of them, a stingray, has killed him. 

 

Like Rolf Harris and Kylie Minogue, Steve Irwin was one of those Australians who found even more fame out of this country than he did here. And his death has made headlines everywhere that his best-selling programs were shown. 

 

He was a naturalist, an educator, and perhaps most of all a showman.  

 

Lisa Millar reports on the death of the Crocodile Hunter. 

 

LISA MILLAR: Steve Irwin had been in Port Douglas since late last week preparing for the filming of this latest documentary. 

 

He left the marina on Friday heading out to sea. Around noon today came the first indication that something was wrong. 

 

He'd apparently been stabbed by a stingray on Batt Reef about 28 kilometres off the coast, and had been taken to Low Isles where staff onboard the tourist boat Quicksilver tried to resuscitate him but failed. 

 

The producer of his film company, John Stainton, says the stingray wasn't provoked. 

 

JOHN STAINTON: He came over the top of the stingray and a barb, the stingray's barb went up and went into his chest and put a hole into his heart.  

 

We tried ... we got him back within a couple of minutes to Croc One, which is Steve's research vessel. And tried, for the trip back to Low Isle where we were gonna meet the emergency rescue people, we're doing constant CPR, trying to resuscitate him and survive ... make him survive.  

 

When we got there, it was probably ten to 12, and by 12 o'clock when the emergency crew arrived they pronounced him dead.  

 

It's likely that he possibly died instantly when the barb hit him, and I don't think ... I hope he never felt any pain. 

 

LISA MILLAR: The news quickly broke around the world. 

 

AMERICAN REPORTER: Out of north-east Australia the man known as the Crocodile Hunter ... 

 

AMERICAN REPORTER 2: Late word coming into Fox News that Steve Irwin, the Australian known as the Crocodile Hunter, may have been killed in a marine accident... 

 

AMERICAN REPORTER 3: Australia's famed Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin has died ...  

 

LISA MILLAR: And the tributes began flowing. 

 

JOHN HOWARD: It's a huge loss to Australia. He was a wonderful character. He was a passionate environmentalist. He brought joy and entertainment and excitement to millions of people. 

 

KIM BEAZLEY: This is terribly, terribly tragic news. It sort of spread through the Parliament like wildfire at Question Time and I know I speak on behalf of my parliamentary colleagues on both sides of the chamber when we express our deepest condolences to Steve's wife, Terri, and all the family. 

 

LISA MILLAR: Long time Port Douglas resident, Jess Murray, and her son Phoenix were among the last to see Steve Irwin before he left Port Douglas on Friday. 

 

PHOENIX MURRAY: Yeah I just said hello, shake his hand, gave him a hug.  

 

JESS MURRAY: The first day he saw it, he was standing in the back of his father's convertible four wheel drive thing, and yelled out "Steve!" And Steve ran down the deck of Croc One and waved and shouted and, you know, as though … and Matt, my husband, said to me, it was like they were old friends.  

 

And I think, because that personality, that's what made him so popular because he did have time for kids and people and everyone. So, yeah I think it's really sad. It's really hit. Anyone I've told today or discussed it with has had a tear in their eye.  

 

LISA MILLAR: The response on Queensland radio was immediate, as callers wanted to share the shock and their memories. 

 

CALLER 1: Oh, this whole area will be in absolute mourning and shock. And you know, the Australia Zoo that employs so many people ... and just so well liked. And just really, you know, the guy next-door type fella. 

 

CALLER 2: I'm sure all mums and dads looked at that couple, Terri and Steve and they were such a beautiful couple, and to watch them with those children and the pride as a dad while Bindi was performing was just unforgettable. 

 

LISA MILLAR: Byron Kurth is with Managing Australian Destinations, a corporate travel company based in Port Douglas. 

 

BYRON KURTH: I mean there has been a couple of cases before of people that have been killed by a stingray barb to the chest cavity. 

 

But how it happened, I wouldn't have a clue really. But it is ... it's very rare. You know for a bloke that wrestles crocodiles and snakes, you wouldn't have thought that would have been the way he would go. 

 

LISA MILLAR: This afternoon, his producer and manager John Stainton remembered the friend he'd lost. 

 

JOHN STAINTON: I've never known a more professional man in my life. And a more passionate person in my life on conservation issues.  

 

We were at a turning point in our career with a lot of new projects in the making for next year. Bindi's new TV show is going to premiere next January throughout America and throughout the world. 

 

Steve is an integral part of that program and we'll do him proud and continue that effort and I'm sure Bindi will follow in her father's footsteps like the true wildlife warrior that she is. 

 

MARK COLVIN: Steve Irwin's friend John Stainton ending that report from Lisa Millar.