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New shark attack sparks political frenzy -

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ELEANOR HALL: Sydney's third shark attack in as many weeks has prompted the New South Wales
Opposition to accuse the State Government of not doing enough to protect swimmers.

The Opposition says shark nets are in urgent need of repair and that more aerial shark patrols
should be funded.

But the Government says the measures proposed by the Opposition would not have made any difference
in the three recent attacks and is calling on swimmers to do more to protect themselves.

Barbara Miller has our report.

BARBARA MILLER: Just before 7am yesterday morning 15-year-old Andrew Lindop, who was out surfing at
Avalon Beach, was bitten on the leg by a shark.

It was the third such attack in three weeks.

A Navy diver lost a hand and a leg after being attacked in the early morning by a bull shark in
Sydney Harbour on February 11th.

And just a day later a 33-year-old surfer nearly lost his hand after a great white attacked him at
dusk off Bondi.

The New South Wales Opposition says the spate of attacks should serve as a wake-up call to the
Government:

Duncan Gay is the Opposition spokesman for Industry.

DUNCAN GAY: It would be petty and wrong to hold a minister responsible for every shark attack that
happens. What we believe that where the minister is responsible is that he hasn't done everything
possible to mitigate the possibility of shark attacks.

BARBARA MILLER: And what do you think he should do?

DUNCAN GAY: Well the things where he hasn't been engaged is the proper maintenance of the shark
nets, a lack of funding in the patrols to alert people and he removed the quota on catching of
sharks. Now these sort of things won't entirely remove shark attacks, but they're there to lessen
the odds.

BARBARA MILLER: But the State Government rejects the allegations.

The Minister for Primary Industries Ian Macdonald says the attacks were highly unusual, random
occurrences.

He told ABC's News Radio that measures such as increased aerial patrols would not make any
difference.

IAN MACDONALD: We have not been funding these aircraft or aerial surveillance to any great degree
because we believe that it's not value for money. The more value for money is people avoiding
swimming at times when sharks are feeding. That is early in the morning and late at night and they
are times at which having aircraft up over Sydney is something that would be opposed by residents
for instance coming along the beaches early in the morning and secondly the conditions would be
such they wouldn't spot very much.

BARBARA MILLER: The attack at Avalon Beach came just as competitors were warming up for the Sydney
Harbour Swim Classic.

A record 888 people registered for the swim this year.

The event's director Adam Wilson says there was no increased risk.

ADAM WILSON: You know there's sharks always going to be out there. If the shark nets have holes in
them and the Government has got money to fix shark nets, yeah defiantly fix them up. But I mean
really, I mean these are extraordinary situations, I don't think sharks are coming in and preying
on beaches or doing what that film Jaws showed was to happen.

You've obviously got to be aware of, but I don't think you need to jump to conclusions and make
sure that, hey we've got helicopters flying above beaches all day. No, I think that's just a waste
of money. For the last 50,100 years we've been using these beaches and it's a rare occurrence, but
again it's the road rules; don't go early, don't go late.

BARBARA MILLER: Do you think that these swimmers who were attacked early and late in the day were
to some extent responsible?

ADAM WILSON: Look, I wouldn't say they're responsible; they've obviously been caught in
consequences that have been outside of anybody's control. You know, people surf every day, morning
and night, there's sometimes the best surf is at the morning or sometimes it's early at night.

But you've got to be prepared that your chances go up. That there are going to be, it is the
feeding time of the sharks and these are the more risky times to go surfing.

Hey listen, if the surf is fantastic and you have to go have an early surf at six o'clock in the
morning, well you might get a good wave but you might also get your leg chopped.

BARBARA MILLER: Fifteen year-old Andrew Lindop is said to be in good spirits in hospital following
an operation on his wounded leg.

Photographs of the wound are being examined today to try and find out what type of shark attacked
him.

ELEANOR HALL: Barbara Miller reporting.