The Simpsons were wrong: Australian toilets don’t go backwards. Sadly, the same can’t be said of the Aussies’ politics. Reacting to an uptick in fatal great white shark attacks (seven fatalities between 2010 and 2013), the country’s Conservative Party has decided to go all man vs. nature, a strategy that never fails, and start killing any shark that comes anywhere near the beach.
Seriously, can you name even one legitimate criticism of such a government-sponsored slaughter? Here’s Greg Ansley of the New Zealand Herald:
Submissions on the state Environmental Protection Authority’s review closed on Monday with little sign of second thoughts despite scientific assessments panning the cull, continuing protests and threadbare results from last summer’s trial.
[A government review of the program found that conservative policymakers] ignored conservationists because “their position was already known” and downplayed the role of science in policy decisions that placed perceptions of public safety above the views of experts.
It conceded that academics did not generally support the programme.
So no, no legitimate criticism.
Of course, the conservatives do have some gen-u-ine science on their side. A recent study by shark expert Peter Sprivulus shows that shark attacks have become far more likely in the last 40 years if you adjust for increased population and more time spent in the water.
Wait a minute, did I say shark expert? I meant medical doctor who is as much a shark expert as this guy.
So just how dangerous has swimming in Australia’s shark infested waters gotten? Swimmers have a terrifying one-in-30-million chance of being bitten near Perth during the summer*! That’s 10 times more dangerous than riding a push-bike.
As for the cull, in a 13-week trial run, the program netted 172 sharks, but not a single great white. Dave Kelly, fisheries spokesman for the opposition government said the test run was “shambolic, it was expensive, and this report shows that it was largely ineffective.”
The Conservative Party’s response? It is seeking to extend the useless program for three more years despite its lack of success and more successful options that do not kill the sharks (more on those tomorrow).
Hey, what do you expect from the people planning to bring you a coal covered Great Barrier Reef?
*Correction: An earlier version of this article implied the chances of being attacked by a shark were one-in-30 million for all of Australia. That was incorrect.