Labor welcomes today’s reports the Government intends to invest additional funding in National Parks, but announcements alone are not enough.
This Government has shown it is big on talk but light on delivery.
This same government announced $216 million for Kakadu back in January 2019, but a year and a half later almost none of that money has been spent.
It is also the same government that has overseen the rundown of National Park assets as a result of seven years of failure to properly invest.
And it is the same government which came in for scathing criticism from the Auditor-General last year over its management of National Parks.
The Auditor-General found the Government had failed on:
- Establishing effective arrangements to plan, deliver and measure the impact of operational activities;
- Being able to inform itself of whether objectives were being met;
- Governance arrangements;
- Measurement, monitoring, and reporting.
The consequences of these failures are being played out for all to see, with the board and traditional owners issuing stern and serious criticisms of management in relation to Kakadu.
This current crisis with management in Kakadu National Park is problematic for both traditional owners who are not being appropriately consulted on key issues such as sacred sites and for tourism operators.
Kakadu is one of Australia’s most iconic tourist destinations and attracted 300,000 visitors a year at its peak.
Labor has been calling for investment in tourism infrastructure, so we welcome this long-overdue support for some of Australia’s greatest natural attractions.
But the tourism sector still needs certainty about what support, if any, it will provide beyond the scheduled end of JobKeeper in September.
Every day the Government delays, more businesses are left in the lurch and more Australians are forced to join the jobless queues.
This Government must deliver on its promises, properly manage the National Parks for which it is responsible, resolve outstanding concerns, and do what is needed for both tourism and environmental protection.