Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has urged the State Government to “put people before sharks” as he weighed into the stand-off over shark mitigation between WA and Canberra.

Mr Turnbull said he was surprised to hear that the State had refused an offer of free smart drum lines to trial along popular swimming and surfing beaches.

“We’ve had netting and smart drum lines in NSW and it’s important to put people first,” he said.

“You’ve got surfing beaches, our great assets in Australia. You can’t make it completely safe but whatever you can do to keep the beach safe the you should do it.”

Mr Turnbull was reacting to the continuing war of words over how best to manage WA’s continuing shark threat.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull takes a selfie with a worker from the refrigeration business Thermo King West yesterday. Picture: Sharon Smith

Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg recently released a blueprint for using smart drum lines between Quinns Rocks and Margaret River and the NSW Government has offered the State Government a free trial of the catch, tag and release technology.

Premier Mark McGowan and Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly believe the science around the benefits of smart drum lines remains unclear and the cost of operating them is high.

“I understand there are scientific arguments but governments should do their best to keep the swimmers safe and put them before sharks,” Mr Turnbull said.

“Josh is trying to help. He believes like most people do that you put people before sharks.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull visits The West Australian for an interview with Gary Adshead. Picture: Michael Wilson

In a wide-ranging interview with The West Australian ahead of this weekend’s State Liberal conference, the Prime Minister said his Government’s “GST fix” had put the contentious issue to bed in WA.

Like Federal Labor leader Bill Shorten, he denied his GST plan was a “bribe” for WA voters ahead of next year’s election.

He believed his WA-based Federal ministers and MPs could now make the stronger argument for re-election.

“You’re yet to get the support of Bill Shorten for the GST fix we’ve come up with,” Mr Turnbull said.

He accepted the public’s previous cynicism, saying all sides of politics had only offered band-aid solutions.

“The GST was a problem we needed a long term fix for,” Mr Turnbull said.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull visits The West Australian for an interview with Gary Adshead. Picture: Michael Wilson

“It’s now a much more predictable, steadier GST distribution. That will make it much easier for treasurers, particularly here in WA, to plan for the future.”

He continued to argue that State and Federal Labor want to close the live sheep export industry, despite the fact it was the Federal Government that suspended the licence of WA’s biggest exporter.

“Any business in breach of the terms of its licence — let’s say a pub — runs the risk of losing the licence,” Mr Turnbull said. “We’re not compromising on animal welfare but you have to maintain your export markets.”

Mr Turnbull gave his strongest signal to date that he did not support the debate about Australia’s population or immigration intake.

“We can’t object to people living longer,” he said. “I assume we’re not going to stop people having babies. We’re not going to say to the universities, ‘You can’t have international students’.

“Are you going to say to a business with a new mining project that they can’t bring in people with particular skills?

“You can’t say to an Australian woman who meets and marries an Englishman that he can’t come here.”

The Prime Minister believes its up to governments to plan and provide the infrastructure required for the growing population.

“The important thing is that we control the migration program we have,” he said. “We don’t take any more people than we need or want. Our migration program is already different to that of other countries.”

Despite mounting pressure to jettison the Government’s policy to offer tax cuts to big business, Mr Turnbull said he would stick to the plan.

“It’s important that we have lower company tax because it means higher productivity, more investment, more jobs,” he said.

“We’ll seek to navigate an outcome to get it through the Senate.”