People power defeats shark cull

A protest against the shark cull in Perth in February. Photo: Alex Bainbridge.

Following a mass campaign that mobilised thousands of people across the country and beyond, it appears the Western Australian government's shark cull has been dropped.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has advised against continuing the cull this summer. Premier Colin Barnett said he was “disappointed” by the decision but is unlikely to challenge it and is also unlikely to reinstate the cull in future.

Sixty-eight sharks were killed during the trial run of the cull earlier this year. None of those killed were Great White sharks, vindicating the environmental movement's prediction that the cull would be completely ineffective even by the government's own standards.

The movement to stop the cull has been one of the biggest campaigns in WA politics this year. Protests were held in Cottesloe, Warnbro, Broome and Bunbury. Solidarity protests were held interstate in Melbourne, Hobart, Adelaide and Sydney, and even as far away as New Zealand and South Africa.

Some dismissed it as a petty campaign, that detracted from more serious issues but this missed the point. Great white sharks are apex predators and a protected species. Their survival is an important environmental issue.

The issue of the shark cull also became a focal point for community frustration with the state government around a range of issues, from the Elizabeth Quay debacle, to the attacks on education, to the utter failure to address rising homelessness.

The trial shark cull cost the government $1.3 million, and is only one example of the state government wasting public money. This mass movement victory will hopefully raise people's confidence to stand up for other important issues.

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