Labor urged to pay shark-device rebate

Daniel MercerThe West Australian
Shark Shield’s Lindsay Lyon.
Camera IconShark Shield’s Lindsay Lyon. Credit: Simon Santi/ The West Australian

One of Australia’s leading manufacturers of personal shark deterrents has urged the new State Government to get on with its policy of subsidising such devices, saying it would help boost public safety overnight.

It came as Surf Life Saving WA told a Senate inquiry into shark mitigation measures that recent attacks were “having a significant impact on the way of life for West Australians”.

In a submission to the inquiry, SLSWA said the situation was also affecting visitors to WA’s beaches along with the organisation’s ability to “undertake training and development and frontline service delivery”.

Australia’s peak surfing body, Surfing Australia, used its submission to say shark attacks and encounters across the country had “without doubt negatively impacted” the sport.

It estimated participation in and revenue to surf schools had fallen 20 per cent in recent years amid a rise in attacks in certain areas, with some shops having to close their doors and board manufacturers selling 50 per cent less products.

Then-opposition leader Mark McGowan at Cottesloe Beach with shark attack victim Elyse Frankcom in 2014.
Camera IconThen-opposition leader Mark McGowan at Cottesloe Beach with shark attack victim Elyse Frankcom in 2014. Credit: Ian Munro/The West Australian

Lindsay Lyon, who owns and runs Perth-formed company Shark Shield, said there was “nothing preventing” Premier Mark McGowan implementing a policy Labor took to the election of providing rebates for proved shark deterrent products.

The risk of shark attack was one of the defining issues of the previous term of government and prompted Labor to say it would run a trial offering $200 rebates to consumers who bought accredited safety products.

All up, the trial would cost $200,000. Although the policy was not limited to specific types of ocean users, Labor said it would be largely aimed at surfers and divers, who it noted were at the greatest risk of attack.

Mr Lyon, now based in Sydney, welcomed Labor’s election and said its deterrent rebate policy was a “good strategy” for the most vulnerable ocean users.

He dismissed claims by former premier Colin Barnett that the policy would leave the State liable in the event someone was attacked while wearing one of the products, likening it to other safety measures such as safety belts and EPIRBs.

“What the Government is saying is, ‘We think you should reduce risk in this particular activity, here’s one way to do it’,” Mr Lyon said. He said personal deterrents typically cost upwards of $500, meaning the rebate would make a big difference in how affordable they were.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails