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June 15, 2024

WA MPs quibble over ‘rogue sharks’

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A tiger shark. Photo Willy Volk/Flickr.com
A tiger shark. Photo Willy Volk/Flickr.com

Colin Barnett’s use of the term “rogue shark” has been questioned by the West Australian opposition, but the premier says Labor is nitpicking.

Straight after the Environmental Protection Authority last week recommended against extending the state’s contentious shark cull program by three years, the Liberal leader said the focus would shift to using the existing “imminent threat” policy to remove rogue sharks from popular swimming and surfing spots.

The opposition pounced, noting the state government’s SharkSmart website stated it was “extremely unlikely that a rogue shark has been involved in any WA shark incidents”.

“The rogue shark theory is frequently discussed, particularly in the media,” the website says.

“Although it maintains a place in popular belief (thanks to the Jaws movies and similar stories), it is simply an unsubstantiated theory.”

When opposition fisheries spokesman Dave Kelly pushed Mr Barnett on the subject in parliament on Tuesday, the premier shot back.

“We are not talking about a Hollywood movie on Jaws or anything like it and the member opposite knows it,” Mr Barnett said.

“It is a common-usage term relating to a large shark that frequents a popular swimming location.

“A silly question and the public understands what I was referring to.”

Asked if he was fearmongering – along with acting tourism minister John Day, who said he personally would not swim far off the South West coast – Mr Barnett said West Australians were already fearful of sharks.

“I think when you have seven people die in shark attacks (over three years), yes, there is room for fear. People in this state are fearful.”

Mr Barnett said there had been consistent sightings of rogue sharks, including one lurking off Albany for a month.

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