Why shark attacks should not deter us from the beach

 

IT is the risk every surfer and every swimmer takes as we stand on the beach.

The ocean is home for sharks, so when we decide to enter the water, we enter their territory at our own peril.

Sure, on the Gold Coast there are shark nets. But they're only 6m deep, a floating postage stamp in the water that does more for our mental safety than our physical.

Regardless, despite the horrific fatal mauling of surfer Robin "Rob" Pedretti by a 3m great white near a Kingscliff beach, our oceans are a far safer environment than our roads, where eight people died over the weekend in Queensland alone.

The hazard has not gone, but life must continue. File image. Picture: AP Photo/Rick Rycroft
The hazard has not gone, but life must continue. File image. Picture: AP Photo/Rick Rycroft

Yet every day we get back behind the wheel and on the road again. And every week we go back in the water again.

The hazard has not gone, but life must continue. Sure, we can mitigate the risks, we can travel at the speed limit, we can wear seat belts, we can swim between the flags, we can swim or surf in groups, but there is always a chance.

The only way to truly eliminate the risk is to outlaw driving and beach activities.

I think we'd all rather take our chances on the road and in the water.

The fact is that life is not safe. You can never completely remove the possibility that something could go wrong.

Yet that seems to be the mantra of our State Government which still refuses to open our borders.

Is there a chance that increased movement between states could see infection rates rise? Yes, absolutely. In fact, a Melbourne traveller has already brought the disease here.

Which just goes to show, even the most extreme risk mitigation practices will not always protect you.

 

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In fact, washing your hands and keeping your distance will do far more for the health of the state than closed borders can achieve.

Even so, s--t happens. Life happens.

Except that for so many businesses and workers here on the Coast, life is not happening.

These ridiculous risk mitigation practices are suffocating the economy, which is under far more threat presently than our public health.

Australia's fight against the pandemic has been so successful that driving is now more dangerous than interacting with people in public places.

That point was made clear when the State Government allowed a Black Lives Matter protest in Brisbane, legalising the assembly of thousands in the streets when businesses must account for every single patron.

That's not to say that this event means life should get back to normal, but it does show that the Government made a risk assessment and ruled that outlawing a public protest was in fact more dangerous than any potential endangerment to public health.

We are not children, we all make crucial and critical decisions every day. We can be trusted to, largely, do the right thing.

Protesters participate in a Black Lives Matter rally in Brisbane on Saturday. Picture: AAP Image/Glenn Hunt
Protesters participate in a Black Lives Matter rally in Brisbane on Saturday. Picture: AAP Image/Glenn Hunt

Indeed, at the BLM protest in Brisbane, a large number of people wore face masks, while police passed around alcohol wipes, working to mitigate that risk.

So what is the Queensland Government waiting for? If our aim is not to flatten the curve but to eliminate it, when will we ever be able to resume real life? We cannot stay in this safe bubble forever.

Our leaders are behaving like the worst of helicopter parents, hovering over us, removing every risk and ultimately doing more harm than good.

After all, if our aim is still to flatten the curve, we achieved that at the start of April … so how long until we're allowed out of our rooms?

We were told we needed to "hibernate" the economy, but we can't do that with our lives. This is not a special step out of time, every day that goes by is one less we get to live fully.

It's the same reason that surfers in Kingscliff have vowed to go back in the water despite the tragedy on Sunday. Life is too short to give up the things you love for the risk of something that is inarguably awful, but awfully unlikely.

We can see the ocean, we accept the risk … and we're ready to dive back in.

Originally published as Life has inherent risks - it's time to dive back in


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