'Presiding over a disaster': MP targets leaders after attack
WHITSUNDAY MP Jason Costigan has called for the resignation of key members of local, state and federal government due to a "lack of leadership" when it comes to shark control management.
During a press conference at Mackay's Bluewater Quay today, Mr Costigan said Whitsunday Mayor Andrew Willcox, Fisheries Minister Mark Furner and Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley should resign in the wake of yesterday's shark attacks in Hook Passage.
But, those leaders have dismissed Mr Costigan's calls as 'political grandstanding' describing the move as in 'poor taste' - with one Minister suggesting Mr Costigan is in 'denial' over the realities of swimmer safety.
"The Whitsunday council and the mayor are in denial, the tourism body is in denial, the state and federal governments are in denial. They're pandering to Green groups," Mr Costigan said.
The North Queensland First leader said Cr Willcox was presiding over a disaster, Mr Furner was responsible for a failing shark control program and the Ms Ley had shown no sense of urgency coming from the Federal Government regarding the attacks.
"We've had five shark attacks in the space of a year or so - I don't have all the answers but everything should be on the table to address this situation," Mr Costigan said.
"There clearly is a problem … I don't profess to be a scientific expert but the shark control program we've had in Queensland stood the test of time for nearly six decades and it should be back on."
Mr Costigan suggested a suite of measures to control the region's shark population should be brought back to the table, including drones, education, technology, drumlines and shark nets.
"It won't provide an iron-clad guarantee, but it will, in my view, reduce the risk of fatalities and serious injury to people who come to visit the place that I call paradise," Mr Costigan said.
When asked what he would do to reinstate 24 drumlines recently removed from beaches in Mackay's Northern Beaches area, which are a part of his electorate, he conceded there wasn't much he could do.
"I will continue to beat the drum that drumlines should be returned to areas in my electorate but it's falling on deaf ears. The government doesn't seem interested in this regard," Mr Costigan said.
Mayor for Whitsunday Andrew Willcox said he had been made aware of calls by Mr Costigan for him to resign over what he called "presiding over a disaster".
"I consider this political grandstanding to be in very poor taste less than 24 hours after yesterday's shark incident. Our thoughts are with the recovery of the injured men and also, ensuring the welfare of tourists and crew of the tour boat and our amazing emergency services," Mr Willcox said.
"This is a time for us all to band together for the good of our region, our tourism stakeholders, our small businesses and most importantly our community."
Mr Furner said Mr Costigan should stand up for local residents by urging the Federal Government to change its laws and allow the shark control program to return to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
"The Member has done nothing to make swimmers safer. We are trying to make swimmers safer, and to do that we need the Federal Government to act," Mr Furner said.
"The shark control program has never operated in the Whitsundays and the science says it cannot be effective there. It is Mr Costigan who is in denial - about the realities of swimmer safety."
Ms Ley said the first concern in this instance was for the people who had been injured.
"This is not an area that has been part of the drumline program at any time," she said.