Jason Costigan. Question Time at the state parliament in Townsville. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Jason Costigan. Question Time at the state parliament in Townsville. Picture: Alix Sweeney

‘I’m in shock, I’m stunned’: MPs react to shark attack

REPORTS of another shark attack in the Whitsundays, just days before the first anniversary of a fatal attack last year, have left Jason Costigan rattled.

The RACQ CQ Rescue helicopter team is en route to Airlie Beach after two people were reportedly attacked by a shark. There are reports the attack may have happened at Hook Passage.

On November 5, 2018, Melbourne doctor Daniel Christidis was killed by a shark while swimming at Cid Harbour.

The Whitsunday MP was on his way to Airlie Beach when the news of the latest attack broke.

"I am in shock. The first thing that comes to mind is I hope these people are okay," Mr Costigan said.

"I don't know the full details yet but we know there are sharks out there.

"The Whitsundays has been a free for all for a long time … how many more incidents do we need to have before something is done?"

Mackay MP Julieanne Gilbert has also offered her thoughts to the victims of the incident.

"My first thought is concern for the victims and I hope that they have a full recovery," Mrs Gilbert said.

She said the incident highlighted the need for the Federal Government to "fix the law" and ensure shark drumlines could be reinstated where they would be most effective.

Shark drumlines, including 24 across local beaches, had to be removed from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in September after the State Government lost an appeal to an environmental group's legal challenge in April.

State Fisheries Minister Mark Furner had urged Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley to change Federal laws to allow the return of the drumlines in the marine park.

"We know that catch and release doesn't work in our waters," Mrs Gilbert said.

"We really need the Federal Government to hurry up, legislate and put those drumlines back in places where it keeps our swimming areas as safe as possible.

"What we need is sensible legislation to put people's safety first - people's safety is paramount."

It is understood shark drumlines had never been installed in the area where this morning's incident occurred.

Mirani MP Stephen Andrew said he had warned his parliamentary colleagues about needing to take action against rising shark populations. 

Mr Andrew said the shark population had been allowed to grow dangerously, creating intense competition for prey.

"It's only October - the tourist season hasn't even started. The shark season hasn't even started," he said.

"Its shameful. How many people have to be hurt? How many have to be maimed or possibly killed, until we wake up?"

To reduce the shark population, Mr Andrew suggests quotas should be created for professional fishermen to catch sharks in the Great Barrier Marine Park.