Queensland Labor caught out on public safety

Media release

25 September 2019

I have today written to the Queensland Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries, the Hon Mark Furner, providing him with advice from the Australian Government Solicitor that makes it clear Queensland was not legally required to remove its shark control drumlines.

Queensland put politics ahead of public safety, removing 160 shark control drumlines from 27 beaches within 24 hours of a Federal Court decision and on the eve of school holidays. 28 of these drumlines were removed from beaches that were not even covered by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal ruling.

The decisions were taken before consulting with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, which issues permits for the shark protection program.

Queensland’s original permit still remains in place and they could re-install the drumlines under this permit tomorrow.

The Marine Park Authority will this week issue a revised permit reflecting the conditions of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. The revised permit will also provide regulatory guidance to ensure Queensland can move to comply with the new conditions, including training its staff and investing in any new equipment required to safely carry out the program.

The revised permit will allow Queensland to continue using their existing shark drumlines while increasing surveillance and exploring modern ‘complementary’ technologies such as drones, smart drumlines and tags.

The Queensland Government chose public alarm over personal safety, knowing that any legislative change at a Federal level could not be made overnight and knowing that the State Government had sat back for five months since the initial decision without preparing alternative options.

We will continue to look at legislative frameworks available to the Federal Government but it is clear that Queensland did not need to remove its drumlines. They need to adopt a responsible approach to protecting swimmers and the Reef.

Background

  • In March 2017, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority gave permission for Queensland to maintain its shark control program. 
  • On 30 June 2017, the Humane Society International challenged the decision before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
  • On April 2, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal imposed nine conditions on the program. The Queensland Government appealed to the Federal Court in May, with the Marine Park Authority a party to the case.
  • On September 18, the Federal Court dismissed the Queensland appeal.
  • On September 19, Queensland removed the drumlines from the water.
Minister for the Environment