Play­ing pol­i­tics with sharks

Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin - - NEWS - RYAN KEEN

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.”

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