The Morrison Government should deliver on promised road and infrastructure upgrades for Kakadu National Park to provide desperately needed support to tourism in the Top End.
This week, there are alarming reports about the slow delivery of $216 million in funding promised before the 2019 election, funding which continues to stall.
Meanwhile, traditional owners are experiencing a breakdown in communication from Parks Australia; the Federal agency responsible for managing Kakadu.
Kakadu is one of Australia’s most iconic tourism drawcards, with stunning vistas and amazing experiences, woven together into a rich tapestry of culture and connection to country.
At its peak Kakadu attracted around 300,000 visitors a year, but this has dropped to 185,000 a year due to declining infrastructure and uncertainty about access to key sites.
The tourism industry and Labor have been calling on the Federal Government to deliver long-awaited investment in this vital location.
Environment Minister Sussan Ley’s dismissive claim that the Government is “getting on with the job” shows she does not understand the urgency with which these improvements are required.
Tourism has been one of the sectors hit hardest by the COVID-19 global pandemic, particularly in the Top End, where the timing of international border closures has wiped out an entire peak season.
With COVID-19 reducing visitor numbers, the Government could use this time deliver Kakadu’s promised upgrades to prioritise its environmental protection and ensure it is in the best possible position to welcome visitors as travel restrictions allow.
All work must be undertaken hand-in-hand with traditional owners, and Parks Australia must ensure constructive communication and clarity around decision making for all parties.
The Morrison Government must listen to traditional owners and tourism operators and respond immediately to address these issues and deliver long-awaited infrastructure upgrades to this world-class asset.