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LNP Pledges $15 Million For Smart Drum Lines

Drum Line Image_HSI-AMCS-N_McLachlan

LNP Leader Deb Frecklington has pledged $15 million over three years to put smart drum lines in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, after it was decided that drum lines would be removed.

The State Opposition is calling on the Queensland Government to match the commitment immediately.

“Labor have sold out community safety by pulling shark drum lines out of Queensland waters without any plan B,” Ms Frecklington said.

“Public safety must come first. Our position couldn’t be more clear – people before sharks.

“I won’t just roll over and say it is all too hard like the Palaszczuk government has done.

“There is nothing in the decision* that compelled Annastacia Palaszczuk to pull drum lines out of the water.

“The permit requires the Government to use drum lines in a “non-lethal” way, which will protect the Great Barrier Reef while prioritising the safety of swimmers.

“The court didn’t tell Labor to take out the drumlines – Labor chose to do it.

“The drum lines are legal if they are regularly monitored and sharks are removed quickly. Smart drum lines can do just that.

“When it comes to life and death, nothing should be put in the too hard basket.

“People don’t want to see political blame-shifting, they want real action that respects the law but protects community safety.

“That’s why if elected, the LNP will pledge $15 million over three years for smart drum lines to protect Queenslanders and tourists swimming in these waters. I hope Labor do the right thing and match our pledge so Queenslanders don’t have to wait 14 months for this sensible action to happen.

“For four years, New South Wales** has safely trialed a catch and release program with the use of smart drum lines. This should be the minimum response by the Palaszczuk Government.

“To simply pull the drum lines out without a backup plan shows Labor is more interested in playing politics than protecting the community, protecting the environment and protecting Queensland’s $25 billion tourism industry.

“Queensland’s tourism industry needs to be safeguarded and smart drumlines are a way to protect humans and protect local tourism jobs.”

The LNP’s plans to spend $15 million on a catch-and-release program for sharks in the Great Barrier Reef will put lives at risk, Fisheries Minister Mark Furner said in response on Monday.  

Mr Furner said the LNP’s commitment was a fraction of what was needed and did not take into account the safety of staff who would have to manage and then release live sharks caught on drumlines.

“Handling sharks is dangerous and I can’t see the sense in releasing a shark near where it was caught,” Mr Furner said.

“How will that protect swimmers?

“It’s not just as simple as pulling a hook out of a shark’s mouth and letting it go. If David Crisafulli thinks that’s a good idea then he can go first!”

Mr Furner said LNP’s $15m proposal would not cover the ongoing costs to replace all 173 drumlines in the Great Barrier Reef.

“Replacing all of those drumlines with so-called smart drumlines could cost up to $100,000 per day.

“Which of the 27 beaches in the Great Barrier Reef would the LNP remove from the program in order to fit their $15m budget?” Mr Furner said.

“Would the LNP cut back on beaches in the rest of the state to pay for its irresponsible, underfunded brainwave?

“Would they randomly pick beaches in our key tourism areas and just cross their fingers hoping for the best?

“Smart drumlines are being trialled in other states, but they are just that, a trial. Our current Shark Control Program has operated for almost 60 years with only a single fatality at a beach protected by the program. “

Drumlines were removed from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park after the Federal Court backed an AAT decision to impose significant new conditions on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s permit allowing the Shark Control Program to operate.

Mr Furner said the Federal Government must act to change the Federal legislation that governs the marine park and ensure swimmer safety by allowing the existing Shark Control Program to operate.

“I’ve written to the Federal minister and the Premier has written to the Prime Minister,” Mr Furner said.

“The LNP should be urging their federal counterparts to act on Queensland’s call for action instead of advocating a catch-and-release program that could put the lives of staff and swimmers at risk.”