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Environment and Communications References Committee
31/07/2017
Shark mitigation and deterrent measures

GIBBS, Dr Leah, private capacity

Committee met at 08:59

CHAIR ( Senator Whish-Wilson ): I declare open this public hearing of the Senate Environment and Communications Reference Committee in relation to its inquiry into shark mitigation and deterrent measures. I note that this is the fifth day of evidence that we have collected in this inquiry. This is a public hearing and a Hansard transcript of the proceedings is being made.

Before the committee starts taking evidence I remind all witnesses that in giving evidence to the committee they are protected by parliamentary privilege. It is unlawful for anyone to threaten or disadvantage a witness on account of evidence given to a committee and such action may be treated by the Senate as a contempt. It is also a contempt to give false or misleading evidence to a committee. The committee prefers all evidence to be given in public but under the Senate's resolution witnesses have a right to request to be heard in private session. It is important that the witnesses give the committee notice if they intend to give evidence in camera. In addition, if the committee has reason to believe that evidence about to be given may reflect adversely on a person the committee may also direct that the evidence be heard in private session. If a witness objects to answering a question the witness should state the ground upon which the objection is taken and the committee will determine whether it will insist on an answer, having regard to the ground which is claimed. If the committee determines to insist on an answer the witness may request that the answer be given in camera. Such a request may, of course, be made at any other time. On behalf of the committee I thank all of those who have made submissions and sent representatives here today for their cooperation in the inquiry.

I now welcome Dr Leah Gibbs. Thank you for coming all the way from Wollongong to be here in person. Information on parliamentary privilege and the protection of witnesses and evidence has been provided to you. The committee has your submission. Would you like to make a brief opening statement and then we will ask you some questions?

Dr Gibbs : Yes, absolutely. I work as a researcher in the social sciences and I have been working on human interactions with sharks for about five years. I have conducted research in Western Australia and New South Wales with colleagues in my own discipline of geography and I have also had the good fortune to work with marine biologists and fisheries experts at the University of Wollongong. My comments today emerge from this research.

I would like to speak briefly to three themes which are part of the written submission I made to this inquiry with some of my Wollongong colleagues. The first is the acceptability of various approaches. Research I conducted in Western Australia with my colleague, Dr Andrew Warren, focused on the views and experiences of ocean users. In that work we found that the most strongly opposed strategies for managing shark related risks were, firstly, wider use of baited drum lines; secondly, culling species identified as posing a threat to humans; and thirdly, wider use of shark nets. In contrast, the most strongly supported strategies were, firstly, improving public education about sharks; secondly, encouraging ocean users to accept risks of ocean use; and thirdly, increasing warning systems for ocean users and beach goers. These findings indicate that among the people who are most at risk of being injured by a shark, hazard mitigation strategies that involve killing sharks is strongly opposed.

My second point relates to the efficacy and effects of various mitigation strategies. The negative consequences of lethal shark hazard mitigation are well documented for targeted species, for non-target species and for marine environments and I see from Hansard that you have heard from other experts who have spoken at some length about these negative consequences.

To reiterate I will address some of the key issues. The New South Wales Shark Meshing (Bather Protection) Program reports substantial bycatch, including threatened species and species that pose no risk to people and animals that are too small to present a risk. At the same time as these negative effects are very well established there is no conclusive evidence that existing lethal strategies are effective at preventing dangerous shark encounters; rather, we argue that spikes and declines in incidents are a function of numerous complex social and ecological factors, many of which are very poorly understood and documented. They include shark population dynamics, conditions in marine environments, changes in human population and ocean activities and improvements in emergency response. These diverse factors then interact in very complex ways.

Instead of continuing to rely on outmoded, destructive and unproven methods we argue that governments should focus resources upon innovative, non-lethal strategies, which we have begun to see, and really importantly, the established and highly effective areas of beach patrol and emergency response. Our research shows a strong preference for these non-lethal strategies among people who use the ocean.

My final point is that people regularly encounter sharks without harm. Almost 70 per cent of the ocean users surveyed in our WA research reported having had safe interactions with sharks at some point while using the ocean.

The significance of this point is that lethal shark hazard mitigation strategies currently in place in Australia assume that sharks are inherently dangerous. Our work demonstrates that the simple presence of sharks does not present an inevitable danger to people. Education and promotion of fuller information about sharks, such as these findings, will help people make more informed decisions about their ocean activities and go some way to preventing the spread of fear and misinformation about sharks and associated risks.

CHAIR: Thank you, Dr Gibbs. I will begin asking some questions. Can I ask you about the report that you quoted, the research in Western Australia, Gibbs and Warren (2015), in terms of acceptability of approaches? How targeted were the questions or the survey approach to ocean users versus the broader public? How did you go about collecting the data?

Dr Gibbs : The recruitment strategy was that we first targeted a range of ocean user organisations in Western Australia. I can provide a full list of those if that is of interest, but they were Surfing WA, Surf Lifesaving WA, a game fishers organisation, some other board riders organisations and so on. We first contacted those organisations directly and asked them if they would be willing to circulate a link to our online survey. That was the first way that we started our recruitment strategy and then, of course, an online survey takes on a life of its own but we relied upon self-reporting. The very first question was: 'Do you use the ocean?' If someone said, 'Yes', then they were able to complete the survey.

CHAIR: Have you compared this to any other work? Can you give the committee a bit of an overview about other work that has been done on surveying or polling in relation to let us call it the shark mitigation debate or the shark culling debate, because we have heard various evidence, mostly in relation to Western Australia, that 80 per cent of respondents did not support lethal measures for shark mitigation? Can you confirm that with the committee or can you give us an overview of other work that has been done in this area?

Dr Gibbs : Yes. There have been very few studies actually undertaken. I am aware of two other studies. I believe one of those was conducted by a private firm. I think that they came up with that figure of 80 per cent. As far as I understand, that was a broad survey, so it was not targeting ocean users.

I believe there was another study—and, again, I can look up the details if you are interested—but from recollection that one also was a broad survey. It did not target ocean users. As far as I know, our study is the only one that has actually targeted ocean users.

CHAIR: When you are talking about different types of mitigation measures like baited drum lines, nets versus other patrolled beaches and so on, would you expect those ocean users would understand the content? One thing the committee has heard is that there is quite a low level of awareness and education out there in relation to the risks of shark encounters, bycatch issues and those kinds of things. How did you account for an understanding of the kind of questions you were asking? I will ask for the qualitative overlays on the work that you have done.

Dr Gibbs : I agree. I think there is a really poor general level of understanding of the different strategies and in coming to the east coast I think there is a particularly poor general understanding of what shark nets are. I think that there is a sense, among the general public, or a misinterpretation among many members of the general public, that a shark net is a barrier. You have probably heard that from other people as well. I think, among the general population, understanding of how these strategies work is very, very poor.

From what I have gleaned through our research with ocean users, I think that their understanding of those strategies is slightly better, and that is partly because those people are in the ocean all the time. They are aware of these issues. They are just thinking about the ocean, the consequences of what is going on and the consequences of management strategies more than people who never put their feet into the water, for example.

CHAIR: The reason I am asking these questions is one of the key recommendations the committee has had around the country has been targeted at approaches to education and awareness around the risks of shark encounters, be it signage at individual beaches, information on apps that are available for people or campaigns for surf lifesaving states and so on. It would be interesting to know just how much people know out there. There are very few journalists who write on this and a lot of the coverage tends to be very sensational, so I would be interested in who actually understands this issue in terms of how we target responses to raising education and awareness.

Dr Gibbs : I completely support that idea of improved education and public awareness and I think that can happen across lots of different platforms and in lots of different ways. As I said, the general understanding of shark hazard mitigation strategies is very low. It is extremely varied. Some people take great offence and say, 'Of course we understand those strategies.' So, of course, it is varied, but one of the other things that was raised by some of our respondents in our qualitative research was that they might understand the strategies, themselves, the risks, how likely it is to encounter a shark and so on, but their loved ones might not, so friends and family might themselves be quite concerned for their wellbeing and so they were quite keen that their non-ocean using friends were better informed about the risks that they were undertaking. I think that the level of awareness is really varied but I think greater education about all aspects of sharks, the little that we do know about them and also about the mitigation strategies, is absolutely welcome. I think it is essential.

CHAIR: You talked a little bit about non-lethal strategies and the need to at least focus more on those for the future. You mentioned in your submission innovative strategies for protecting people and marine life environments that are in use and other development elsewhere around the world and that we should be drawing on that expertise. Is there anything in particular that you would recommend the committee look at in more detail? We have obviously heard about a lot of different kinds of initiatives or technologies.

Dr Gibbs : Yes. I think that some of those strategies that are currently being investigated—and I have looked through the Hansard and seen that you have heard from some of the people working on things like electric deterrents, personal deterrents and so on—I think all of those things are great. I think this problem requires a sort of multifaceted approach. All of those individual deterrents and those kinds of measures are really important, but that we must not forget the incredible value of beach patrol and also of emergency response. Those two things go hand in hand. Lots of numbers are presented about the reduction in shark incidents—shark bites, injuries and fatalities—since the beginning of for example the shark meshing program in New South Wales but there is a lot of overlap there in terms of the increase in beach patrol through surf lifesaving, through lifeguards, and also increasing improvements in medical response. I think that there is a danger in us kind of forgetting about the things that already are making a huge difference to ocean safety, and of course those things do not only protect us from the extremely rare incidence of shark bite but they also protect ocean users and beach goers from rips, drownings and so on.

I think that the new innovative strategies, the technical strategies, are really important but what I am seeing in the calls for funding, at the moment, is that they are extremely targeted. I am concerned that we might be losing sight of the fact that there are these amazing things that we already have in place and those things need to continue to be funded; namely, beach patrol and emergency response.

CHAIR: The comparison between Western Australia and the east coast has been quite stark for the committee.

Dr Gibbs : Yes.

CHAIR: Over in Western Australia most of the tragedies, the shark bites, have occurred in fairly remote areas to certain classes of ocean users like surfers and divers. The suggestion that you would want to net or drum line all the beaches in Western Australia where people go surfing is probably not a practical one, let alone, potentially, an ethical one.

Dr Gibbs : Absolutely.

CHAIR: I know Senator Urquhart was interested when we went to Byron Bay that there was talk of surveys that had been done by the New South Wales government on the local community there, as to whether they supported the meshing program or the use of drum lines and there was a bit of controversy. Do you have any experience at all in those particular surveys? Have you looked at them or have you gone online and looked at the responses or anything like that?

Dr Gibbs : No, I have not. I have not been involved at all in the Northern New South Wales work at this stage.

CHAIR: I think there was some dispute as to how effective the numbers were from different people that we heard from. I do not know if you would ever get a chance to do that but it would be interesting to get a qualitative assessment, considering this is what you do. I might send you some links afterwards.

Dr Gibbs : That would be really interesting.

CHAIR: In terms of the efficacy of existing lethal strategies, you say there is no conclusive evidence that the existing lethal strategies in place in Australia prevent dangerous shark encounters. Would you like to tell the committee a little bit more about that?

Dr Gibbs : I think that something that is presented frequently through multiple avenues is that since the shark meshing program—and that is the one I can speak the most confidently about on the east coast—has been in place we have not seen fatalities or we have seen a decrease. We have seen a decline in shark bite incidents and fatalities. That is presented as evidence that this process is working. However, that is a correlation. It does not prove causation and I think that is a really important point.

Part of the problem is that correlation is so seductive. Correlation can be very convincing, especially to a poorly informed public. If we present a bunch of numbers or a plot that says, 'Here. Look. Since we introduced this strategy incidents have gone down', that is a really compelling argument but what it does is overlook a whole bunch of really important, quite complex factors. Those factors are social factors and they are also biological and ecological factors.

Some of the things that I have been looking at with my colleagues in Wollongong, with the marine biologists in particular, is trying to disentangle those complex factors—trying to name them, I suppose. What are the factors that are contributing to spikes in shark bite incidents and declines? What we are finding—and we are in the process of writing this research so, unfortunately, we cannot provide a published version yet but I am certainly happy to send that on later in the year when that is published—is that, first of all, the shark meshing program has undergone tremendous change since it was initiated. So in fact we are not talking about the same beast since 1937; we are talking about a program that has undergone great change.

The second point is around the biology and ecology of sharks themselves. We know very little about many shark species, especially those ones that are deemed to be potentially threatening to us; namely great white sharks. What we do know is that there are very few of them. We know that ocean ecosystems are under tremendous pressure. Most marine species are massively declining. That decline has taken place over the last 50 to 80 years, exactly the time period during which the shark meshing program has been in place.

CHAIR: Do you believe the decline in catches in, let us call them nets, also reflects that?

Dr Gibbs : Yes, I think so. Of course there is a whole range of reasons that the decline is taking place but I think that the catch data that is presented in the annual reports of the shark meshing program shows that quite clearly. We have updated the plot for the shark catch data or actually the catch data through the mesh and we have found a decline.

CHAIR: Yes. That has been raised with us by a number of witnesses.

Dr Gibbs : The third point is the social one. There are other biological factors as well but there is a whole range of social factors. I mentioned improvements in beach patrol. That is a huge issue. That has most certainly reduced the incidents of shark bites, of people getting into dangerous situations. I have not done this study myself but I think it would be very interesting to also look at the shifts and changes in coastal drownings, for example, connected to beach patrol and then there is the emergency response.

We see a reduction in fatalities. We do not necessarily see the same patterns in terms of shark bite incidents. What we are seeing is that those people who are being bitten these days, basically post second war since huge improvements in medicine, a decline in the number of people who die through shark bite. So, there is a lot of nuance. There is a lot of subtlety in the data and it is too often presented as a very simple correlation equals causation story.

CHAIR: It certainly fascinated me when I went up to Ballina, Lennox Head and Byron Bay to talk to potential witnesses for the inquiry and to meet with community groups. You get a number of incidents on one beach and then only a few kilometres away, at arguably a much busier surfing beach like Broken Head, for example, there has never been a recorded fatality or incident and there have never been nets or drum lines there either, so it is very difficult to actually make head or tail out of it.

Do you know if anyone has gone to, for example, beaches in Queensland, but more specifically the Gold Coast that are often held up by some groups as proving why we need lethal mitigation measures and looked at those individual beaches prior to lethal mitigation, whether there were any incidents of sharks in those particular places, but almost beach by beach, and how many target species like great whites have been caught, for example, off the Gold Coast, to try and at least get a better qualitative overlay on the data? I imagine it would be a fairly big job.

Dr Gibbs : It would be.

CHAIR: Do you know if that has been done?

Dr Gibbs : The only work that I am aware of is work done by Professor Jessica Meeuwig, who I know you have heard from.

CHAIR: Yes.

Dr Gibbs : She has looked at some of those numbers—and as you will know, because I know you have heard from her—she said that the numbers before the introduction of the drum lines were incredibly low, just as they are post the introduction of drum lines.

Again, coming back to my earlier point, so much has changed at those places since the introduction of these measures. It is not a simple case of comparing before and after the drum lines went in because, of course, populations have increased and the types of activities that people are undertaking have changed dramatically. Professor Meeuwig's work is the only work that I know of that has done that, but I think that it would not be a simple task for all of those other reasons.

CHAIR: Yes. It sounds like a good project for perhaps a PhD student

Dr Gibbs : I think it would be a really interesting project.

CHAIR: Yes, especially for one who surfs or is interested in the subject.

Dr Gibbs : Yes, that is right.

CHAIR: Senator Urquhart, do you have some questions?

Senator URQUHART: I do have a couple. I wanted to talk to you about your submission. You talked about some of the areas of your research where you found that ocean goers who participate in a wide range of activities were strongly opposed to shark measures was wider than the use of baited drum lines. Do you have any other comments about that? Why is that? Did they go into any detail about that?

Dr Gibbs : I should first, of course, state that views were varied, so it is not as though every ocean user that we heard from opposed lethal strategies. The views are definitely varied, as they would be across any population.

Senator URQUHART: Yes, of course.

Dr Gibbs : Overall, we found that the most strongly opposed strategies were those that effectively were lethal to sharks and then there was a really strong trend towards the more favoured strategies, which were those non-lethal strategies that I mentioned, so education and public awareness.

Senator URQUHART: Just on education, you talked about increasing public education.

Dr Gibbs : Yes.

Senator URQUHART: You talked about a whole different set of ways in which you probably can do that. In relation to the bycatch, you talk about the statistics of bycatch in your submission. Do you think there is enough information and education out there about the bycatch to the public?

Dr Gibbs : No, I do not at all. I think occasionally, once again in our media system which unfortunately focuses often on sensational stories, we hear about the poor whale calf that gets entangled and then either rescued or not but we do not very often hear about the mundane, everyday animals that are entangled. I think that a lot of people in this country would be really shocked to learn about the animals that are entangled in the shark nets every day. I think they would be really shocked to hear about that. I think that that might affect the level of acceptance or level of acceptability of those strategies. Once again, in the interests of transparency, I think that these issues should be raised.

Senator URQUHART: One of the questions that I have asked all through these hearings has been about the role of the media, in particular, and I think the chair and yourself talked about the way in which the media reports these incidents of sharks and that they are usually sensational. Do you see that there is a greater opportunity for the media to be involved in more of that educative process as well rather than just the sensationalisation of shark attacks?

Dr Gibbs : I do not see why not.

Senator URQUHART: Why do you think they do not?

Dr Gibbs : That is a really complex question, isn't it?

Senator URQUHART: It is. I would love to know the answer because I really think that people rely on media to get a lot of information and I am interested as to why they do not present a balanced story in terms of educating as well as reporting what has occurred.

Dr Gibbs : I am not a media specialist and I am not a specialist in the art of journalism, but I suppose it comes down a little bit to: we probably would not be that interested in hearing a story about Senator Whish-Wilson arriving safely at the venue this morning, but if someone is involved in an accident that is newsworthy. So maybe it is a case of that.

Senator URQUHART: Yes, I get that and I understand that but surely if people are going to go out into the ocean, surely if we are going to send our kids or our grandkids out in the ocean would you not think it is something that you would like to read about some of the times when it is not best to go out?

Dr Gibbs : Yes, absolutely.

Senator URQUHART: The times of the year, the type of day and those sorts of incidences; is that something that would be useful?

Dr Gibbs : I think that is really useful, definitely. Some of those things might be the role of journalists, the role of the media, to report on, to promote and so on, and there might be a whole range of other ways in which we can get that information out there. One idea that comes to mind is that for example most of the ocean users that we speak to are really aware of things like when there is a big ball of bait fish off the coast you probably do not go surfing that day.

Senator URQUHART: But how do you know there is a big ball of bait fish?

Dr Gibbs : That is right and so maybe that is something that the media could be reporting on if it is of interest, when there is a particularly strong current that is going to bring the bait fish in and so on like that. I think those kinds of things, if they were presented in the right way, if they were presented as, 'This might sound a bit boring to people who don't care about the bait fish or the current, but the reason we're reporting this is because this suggests this is a great time or a terrible time to go into the water.'

Senator URQUHART: Yes. I think there are lots of ways. I think the media is a good way of doing that.

Dr Gibbs : I think so too.

Senator URQUHART: I wonder what you see as the role of government in relation to minimising the risk that a person swimming or surfing might encounter a dangerous shark. What role do you see the government having in that?

Dr Gibbs : One of those is around promotion of good information. I think that is a really important one. The government can build on the initiatives that it already has in place. There are already some great things in place and I think that those things could be promoted more widely.

Senator URQUHART: So the government programs should be expanded?

Dr Gibbs : Yes, absolutely. They are terrific and I think they should be expanded, perhaps added into school programs, nippers and that kind of thing. It could be promoted more widely. The other one is looking at specific mitigation strategies. Obviously there are calls on at the moment or there has been a range of calls for funding for innovative, non-lethal strategies. As I mentioned, most of them have been quite narrow, so my impression of that is that governments are telling the researchers what they should research rather than having a slightly more open call to sort of look for some of the strategies and some of the different ways that we can approach this problem. I think a slightly more open call would bring up some really interesting ideas. The third one would be just repeating what I said before about continuing to support really great, rigorous beach patrol programs.

Senator URQUHART: Thank you.

Senator DUNIAM: My apologies for my late arrival this morning. I also have to say I am very fresh to this particular issue. This is the first hearing of this inquiry that I have participated in. Thank you for your submission and what I caught of your opening statement.

In the last matter that you touched on with Senator Urquhart you talked about the calls for funding for, I think you said, innovative non-lethal strategies. They are very narrow so can you give me some sort of an understanding of what that focus is?

Dr Gibbs : Yes, I can.

Senator DUNIAM: In brief, obviously, as it can be quite complex.

Dr Gibbs : The way that I have encountered them has been that there has been a call for funding for quite particular strategies. There has been a call for funding, for example, for research into personal deterrent devices. There has been a call for funding into research on surveillance strategies. These are great; they are wonderful and some really great research is coming out of those things. My point is just that—

Senator DUNIAM: There could be more?

Dr Gibbs : They could be broader. Those narrow ones are really great. We have already identified, based on research, that those are areas that we can do more work in but something a little bit broader about more creative ways of thinking about this; for example, I have not seen a call about how we can do this promotion of information, this promotion of good, detailed information about sharks and beach use. How can we do that better? How can we use the media? How can we use social media? How can we use schools and so on? Maybe there is one to come but I have not seen a call for funding in that area, for example.

Senator DUNIAM: Just to be clear, you are saying that we should not just focus on R&D in innovative ways?

Dr Gibbs : Yes.

Senator DUNIAM: Is it about the communication and education?

Dr Gibbs : Absolutely. Also communication; this is my bias, of course, because I am a social scientist, but also research into the social sciences elements of these questions. So, can we better understand why we see spikes and declines in these incidents? Can we better understand how people are using the oceans? Can we better understand what is there? What is the public's understanding of risk? What is the public's understanding of the programs that we already have in place? I think those things are equally as important as how you make a really good electric deterrent.

Senator DUNIAM: Just on the research side of it, you talked before about research which highlights a correlation, that it is seductive and that we need causation.

Dr Gibbs : Yes.

Senator DUNIAM: Do you think we will ever have that direct: these are the causes or these are the factors that lead to causation?

Dr Gibbs : If we are looking for a simple answer, no. If we are looking to better understand the complex suite of factors that contribute to these incidents then, yes, I think so, and that is some of the work that I am working on at the moment with colleagues at the University of Wollongong.

Senator DUNIAM: So this is the study that you are talking about publishing later this year?

Dr Gibbs : Yes, exactly. In that work we are really trying to reveal that complex suite of issues that contribute, rather than looking for a simple answer. That complexity is usually less palatable, I think. It is harder to make policy around. It is harder to put a headline in the newspaper about it, but recognising that these issues are really complex is actually going to do us well.

Senator DUNIAM: I look forward to reading your report when it is published. That is it for me.

CHAIR: That raises a question for me. Is the ultimate outcome for these kinds of things to help reduce risk with people's activities in the choices they make, or is it ultimately about allowing them to make decisions for themselves or to better make decisions for themselves as to whether they find that risk acceptable?

Dr Gibbs : I think that is a great question and I think that is really important. There is going to have to be some sort of balance there. Some of the people that we have spoken to, some of the ocean users, have said, 'Yes, of course there's a risk. We understand that there's a risk and we're willing to take that risk, just like we do every day when we cross the street. We're willing to take that risk because getting to the other side is worthwhile.' For many ocean users getting in the ocean is worth the risk. It is becoming a cliche, but most of them will say in those interviews, 'My drive to the beach is much riskier than getting in the water.'

CHAIR: So when there is, inevitably, another fatality or interaction with a shark—and every time I speak about it I say it will happen because of the nature of people being on the coastline—do you think that the general public, when they see that, from your understanding of doing your surveys feel that the government is responsible for that lack of beach or user group safety, or do you think they understand that that is a decision that was made by that individual and they took the risk? It is tragic but that is the way it is?

Dr Gibbs : Again, the response is going to be tremendously varied. Some people will certainly say, 'The government needs to do something', and some people will say, 'That was that person's choice.' Some people will say, 'All sharks are evil and we should remove them permanently from the planet', and some people will say something else, so I think that that variety is inevitable.

CHAIR: I do not suppose you have anything quantitative on that, because we would be interested to know how many people think that? Ultimately that is politics, but one question we have been asking all witnesses throughout the inquiry is: what do you think the role of government should be in this debate?

Dr Gibbs : I have not done anything myself on that, but I was reading something recently that covered those issues. I would have to dig through my files again and have a look to see what that was. I can forward it on to you if you are interested.

CHAIR: Yes.

Dr Gibbs : My response to what governments should be doing comes back to my response to Senator Urquhart's question around those different strategies contributing to promotion of fuller information about sharks and risk, the role that it might have in contributing to funding, research and so on, and continuing to support those strategies that we know work, like beach patrol.

CHAIR: And, presumably, the responses to these kinds of issues that we are discussing or questions, if you put them, would vary from different places around the country. Obviously for Ballina it has been a very acute issue there for four or five years versus other places where it is not so acute.

Dr Gibbs : Absolutely.

CHAIR: Unfortunately we are out of time. Thank you very much for coming and appearing in front of the committee and we look forward to following up with you on those issues we discussed.

Dr Gibbs : It was a pleasure. Thank you for the opportunity.