Playing politics with sharks
THE Queensland government has ruled out removing drumlines from off the Gold Coast, slamming Opposition claims to the contrary as “scaremongering” and risking tourism for political point scoring.
Opposition leader Deb Frecklington and senior MP John-Paul Langbroek yesterday stoked fears that the ALP government was “secretly considering” phasing out drumlines as political fallout from the latest Whitsundays shark attack fatality turned nasty.
The state government is against using drumlines in the Whitsundays’ Cid Harbour where young doctor Daniel Christidis was fatally mauled on Monday.
Asked if it could rule out removing nets or drumlines from off the Gold Coast, a spokesman for Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said: “Yes, we can rule it out.”
But LNP leader Deb Frecklington, citing meeting minutes showing the state government leaving the door open to replacing drumlines, told the Bulletin: “It is almost criminal the Palaszczuk government is secretly considering phasing out drumlines up and down the coast including the Gold Coast.”
Minutes from last year’s Queensland Shark Control Program Scientific Working Group detail the government’s responses on Great Barrier Reef drumlines. One government response addressing drumline use says “formal assessment of alternative technologies may be considered”.
“If they are not prepared to do it in the Whitsundays, doesn’t it suggest it’s the thin end of the wedge and they may look to reduce the netting program over time on the Gold Coast because surely the same principle applies,” Mr Langbroek said.
He said his family had ruled out a Whitsundays holiday and would look at Bali or Fiji, adding a shark attack on the Gold Coast would be “catastrophic” for tourism.
Tourism Industry Development minister Kate Jones accused Mr Langbroek of “putting his own tourism industry at risk in the hope of scoring cheap political points”.
“It is disgusting,” she said “There is no way we would move away from the current shark program on the Gold Coast.”
Fisheries Minister Mark Furner said it was “hopeless scaremongering from the LNP and will damage the Gold Coast’s tourism industry”.
“The LNP should be ashamed. Our decision to take expert scientific advice and not deploy drumlines in Cid Harbour has absolutely no bearing on our commitment to the shark management program on the Gold Coast.”