Critics kick ousted Kelly

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Ex-Fisheries minister Dave Kelly.
Camera IconEx-Fisheries minister Dave Kelly. Credit: The Sunday Times

Critics have lined up to kick Labor’s ousted fisheries minister Dave Kelly, who was stripped of the portfolio last week.

The WA Government stalwart who oversaw the Capes’ SMART drum line trial has been replaced by ex-SAS member Peter Tinley MLA.

South West Safe Shark Group convenor Keith Halnan said Mr Kelly’s removal was an early Christmas gift.

“Dave Kelly basically sabotaged the trial,” Mr Halnan told the Times. “He’s been in charge of a waste of taxpayers’ money.”

Mr Halnan’s criticisms were not fresh, saying Mr Kelly frustrated his members by reneging on a deal to mirror the NSW trial which inspired the Capes one, which has only caught a single great white shark in almost 12 months of operation.

The protest group renewed calls for tuna heads to be cut and used as bait as an attractant for bigger sharks.

“We’re glad to see the back of him,” Mr Halnan said.

Previously, Mr Kelly rejected Mr Halnan’s criticism.

Mr Kelly said baits were chosen on expert advice from Fisheries scientists to match the bait to local conditions. “Salmon has been successfully used to catch sharks in many shark-fishing operations in WA, as it is a predominant species for feeding sharks,” he said.

Mr Kelly said NSW used mullet, not tuna.

Mr Halnan also saluted the “strong” decision by Premier Mark McGowan to remove Mr Kelly, with the ousted minister an influential powerbroker within Labor’s factional elites.

Mr Kelly’s removal from the fisheries portfolio followed repeated misfires over shark and also crayfish policies which led to painful WA government backflips.

Vasse MLA Libby Mettam said it would be refreshing to see a different minister overseeing the portfolio.

“So far, concerns relate to the departure from the NSW trial, such as ... (the) bait used, configuration of the drum lines, and definition of target species,” she said.

Mr Kelly was given Mr Tinley’s youth portfolio in the reshuffle, but retains responsibility for water, forestry, science and innovation and ICT.

Mr Kelly came under scrutiny this year for comments he made regarding the drum line trial and faced accusations he was trying to sabotage the measure after his department referred the trial to the Environmental Protection Authority at the last minute.

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