Interview - Steve Irwin "The Crocodile Hunter"

Interview: Steve Irwin "The Crocodile Hunter": 14 June 2004
(Credit: Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Steve Irwin in strife over wildlife

Reporter: Kirstin Murray

MARK COLVIN: Is there any such thing as bad publicity? Where television's crocodile hunter, Steve Irwin, is concerned, the answer seems to be, "Crikey, No!"

Mr Irwin's last brush with the news media involved his baby being allegedly at risk from a large croc. This time it's the wildlife that's alleged to have been at risk, from Steve Irwin.

The intrepid television naturalist is accused of breaking the rules by getting too close to penguins and whales in Antarctica.

Steve Irwin says he did nothing wrong, but he's admitted to PM this afternoon that he does like the attention.

Kirstin Murray reports.

KIRSTIN MURRAY: Steve Irwin's in hot water yet again, but at a zoo in Queensland today, you could hardly tell.

STEVE IRWIN (to crowd): So thank you one and all for coming to Australia Zoo where crocs rule! Wahoo!

(cheers and clapping from crowd)

KIRSTIN MURRAY: The showman who's made a name for himself wrestling crocodiles, says he doesn't know what all the fuss is about. Steve Irwin and his film crew travelled to Antarctica in February to film this.

STEVE IRWIN: See those teeth!…

KIRSTIN MURRAY: For the American documentary called Icebreaker.

It apparently shows him swimming with whales and sliding with penguins. But how close did he get to the Antarctic wildlife?

The law says visitors must stay at least five metres from seals and penguins, and swimming with whales is banned.

After public complaints that Steve Irwin breached his permit, the Federal authorities want to take a closer look.

The documentary will be aired later in the week, and although this sort of publicity probably won't hurt his ratings, Steve Irwin was this afternoon conducting a series of media interviews and insisting it's all been a beat up.

STEVE IRWIN: Oh, total beat up, mate. Like I'm tobogganing over there, the penguin's over there, what's the big deal? I mean, I don't know what they're goin' on about there, I really don't. I don't understand that one at all…


STEVE IRWIN: …but that is a total storm in a teacup.

KIRSTIN MURRAY: What about claims you're touching whales?

STEVE IRWIN: That's, that's not true, that's false, that is absolutely tru… that is just not on. Um, I'm sitting on an iceberg, bobbin' around out in the middle of the ocean and the whales, I'm in their environment mate, and they're goin' around me, and um, as the international whaling convention's general principal states, they do what they want and they leave when they want.

How's this? The whales, I got back on board, because I'm starting to go into hypothermia because I've got so much water in my supposed dry suit, I'm startin' to die, so I get back on the boat, and the whales just kept comin' round, it's all there, it's on the vision.

KIRSTIN MURRAY: How confident are you that you didn't break the rules? You're facing a $1-million fine and two years gaol.


KIRSTIN MURRAY: Are you worried you might be charged?

STEVE IRWIN: Not even slightly mate, no, I'm not even remotely worried. There was an investigation took place a couple of weeks ago, um…

KIRSTIN MURRAY: Who was that investigation by?

STEVE IRWIN: Ah, the environmental… police, I don't know, I'm, I'm not, sorry, I don't know what their names are, but there was an investigation took place ah, a couple of weeks ago before I went to America, and they went to John Stainton and Judi Bailey, of Best Picture Show Company, and they looked at the vision that we filmed of the whales down in Antarctica, and they said everything's okay.

KIRSTIN MURRAY: The Department of Environment is concerned. They've asked for a copy of the tape, so obviously they haven't seen this clearance.

STEVE IRWIN: Yeah… I don't know mate, I got home from America yesterday afternoon, I was sittin' at the boat ramp, I got a call, hey Stevo, you're on the news again, so I came home. So I really don't know what's goin' on in Canberra, and I'm not sure if they do.

KIRSTIN MURRAY: Critics might argue that not only is it good for the cause you're fighting for, but also good for sales. What would you say to that?

STEVE IRWIN: Oh, sales snails, I'm not sure about sales.

All I know is um, ah, Greenpeace, World Wildlife Fund, Steve Irwin, Jacques Cousteau, Sir David Attenborough, mate, we are the people that are filming the whales, taking it to you so as you understand the beauty of the animals. If we can get 'em into your hearts, then we may be able to stop whaling. But believe me, the whaling people don't like me.

MARK COLVIN: Steve Irwin speaking to Kirstin Murray.



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