The Barnett Government will miss its self-imposed deadline for setting drum lines as part of its new shark policy after moves to award contracts for the work were delayed by complexity.
Acting Premier Kim Hames said today an announcement on which commercial fishermen would deploy the drum lines had been pushed back to next week, meaning they will not be in the water by Friday as planned.
The revelation came during a week in which the Government’s shark catch-and-kill policy had been subjected to increasing scrutiny amid suggestions its cost was likely to blowout and the deadline was unrealistic.
Under the Government’s original timeframe, drum lines to catch sharks bigger than 3m were to be deployed off Perth and South West beaches from Friday.
However, Dr Hames said this would be delayed, conceding there was “still work to be done” on the tender process.
Faced with suggestions the Government had been too hasty in setting the deadline, Dr Hames maintained it had not and said an announcement would be made next week.
“I don’t think the Government officially named a date,” Dr Hames said.
“The Government said that the ships needed to be ready to operate by that certain date.
“There is a process that (the Government) had to go through that has to be done, so we will be doing that process.
“A lot of work is being undertaken and it’s very nearly ready.
“It’s just not quite ready yet.”
Amid threats from opponents of the policy that drum lines will be “neutralised” and fishermen’s activities disrupted, Dr Hames stressed they would be putting themselves at risk.
He also issued a warning, saying the Government was committed to protecting contracted fishermen and interfering with a “legitimate” fishing exercise would attract significant penalties.
On Tuesday a protester allegedly sprayed graffiti on and smashed the windows of Premier Colin Barnett's Cottesloe electorate office, prompting Dr Hames to caution against such “disgraceful” behaviour.
Shadow fisheries minister Dave Kelly said the delay was symptomatic of a policy that was “ill-considered” and made “on the run”.
“(The Government) was more intent on being seen to do something rather than actually having a well-considered response,” Mr Kelly said.
“What’s happened today bears that out.
“It is absolutely a sign that the Government was too quick and has rushed this policy.
“Three days ago Deputy Premier Kim Hames was saying these drum lines were needed and he was alluding to children being taken at Scarborough Beach.
“Now, a couple of days later, he’s saying their own deadline won’t be met and that there’ll be further delays.
“Really, the Government has completely botched this policy process and it is policy gone wrong yet again.”