Ballina MP ‘last to know’ about shark protection measures
DESPITE representing an area notorious for shark attacks, Ballina MP Tamara Smith claims the state government department responsible for shark mitigation measures does not want her input into the matter.
Ms Smith was unable to reveal any insights about the Department of Primary Industries’ new sharks mitigation strategy, which is due to be released soon.
“Unfortunately I get kept out of the loop when it comes to the DPI, I’m often the last to know,” she said.
“I don’t get invited to things then say, ‘Where’s my invite?’ And they say they’ve sent it. It’s a bit ridiculous.
“I do know we’ll be watching closely to see how much money has been spent and how effective that’s been.
“We continue to call for drones and eyes on the beach, so if people are worried about sharks they can go to a spotted beach.”
Ms Smith has concerns the progression of the drone program has “fallen in a bit of a heap”.
“We must remember lifesavers aren’t there all year round, and winter is shark season,” Ms Smith said.
“I just want families with grommets or anyone concerned to be able to wake up, go right there’s four beaches with spotters, let’s go there.”
She said water safety had been on the forefront of her mind since the shark attack at Kingscliff.
“It’s always tragic and horrid to think someone’s lost their life from a shark bite,” Ms Smith said.
“In no way do we point the finger, we’ve moved on as a community to a big picture sense that the ocean is a wilderness.
“The number of drownings for rock fishermen is extreme, in terms of all-round water safety there is so much more work to do.”
The DPI has been contacted for comment.
Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall, who oversees the DPI, shared his sentiments on the shark attack.
“Any loss of life on our beaches is a tragedy and my thoughts are with Mr Pedretti’s family, friends and the entire community,” he said.
“My top priority has been, and always will be, keeping beachgoers safe.
“The NSW Government has been trialling a range of technologies designed to increase beachgoer protection, while minimising harm to sharks and other marine life.
“I am looking very closely at the findings and we will be announcing the next steps going forward in due course.”