Put ‘human life before sharks’
Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg has urged WA to take up NSW’s offer of cutting-edge drum lines to protect against sharks, imploring the McGowan Government to “put a premium on human life”.
Mr Frydenberg welcomed NSW’s offer to provide five smart drum lines free of charge and said there was “compelling evidence” the technology could save lives.
He confirmed he had written to WA Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly inviting him to a meeting in Canberra to “discuss the issue of shark attacks” in WA and what could be done to prevent them.
Mr Kelly said he would write back seeking a suitable date.
“The evidence is compelling that smart drum lines can save lives,” Mr Frydenberg said.
“For a few hundred thousand dollars, smart drum lines have been deployed along NSW beaches and caught more than 200 great white sharks in a 12-month period.
“Whether it’s Queensland or NSW, these States are putting a premium on human life with their shark mitigation measures and not putting their hand out to the Commonwealth to fund programs which are primarily a State responsibility. Let’s hope the WA Government can see sense on this issue and follow suit.”
But Premier Mark McGowan ridiculed the offer, saying it was “worse than pathetic” and the NSW Liberal Government had not even contacted the State about the matter.
Mr McGowan also took aim at NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair, describing his offer as “rude” and describing him as “obscure”.
“I suspect this obscure person from NSW whose name I can’t remember has been put up to it by the supreme media stuntman Josh Frydenberg,” Mr McGowan told State Parliament yesterday.
“As anyone who understands these things would understand the cost of the smart drum lines is all in the monitoring.
“We are awaiting the research out of NSW before we make any decision about smart drum lines but we also want to know whether the sharks that are tagged, what happens to them afterwards.”
On Wednesday, Mr Blair said smart drum lines had been effective in reducing shark attacks in NSW since being used as part of a $16 million package of measures in response to incidents in 2016.
The technology works by allowing captured sharks to be tagged and released farther offshore via a satellite-linked alert system.