The nation’s leaders are beating a path to the door of the Kakadu National Park to promise a huge spend on tourism and structural upgrades.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison visited Kakadu yesterday ahead of a visit by Opposition leader Bill Shorter there today.
Labor is promising to spend $220 million and the Coalition Government $216 million on the park.
Both want to spend on infrastructure and community development projects to dramatically improve Kakadu National Park as a tourist destination and secure the future of the township of Jabiru.
Political commentators say Mr Morrison’s visit was an attempt to take the gloss from Mr Shorten’s announcement in Jabiru at 10am today.
Mr Shorten will be joined by Chief Minister Michael Gunner.
Labor will promise to invest:
- $100 million to upgrade four key access roads in the Kakadu National Park, to allow for year-round access to key sites in Kakadu;
- $44 million for environmental and national park infrastructure upgrades, including work to tackle invasive species, better fire management, and improved camping facilities and car parking;
- $25 million for a new Kakadu visitor and world heritage interpretive centre in Jabiru;
- $2.5 million to improve mobile connectivity in the Park, for increased visitor safety and better reception for locals;
- $2.5 million for a new Tourism Masterplan to help ensure Kakadu remains a world tourism leader and continues to grow visitor numbers;
- $45 million to undertake urgent asbestos remediation work in Jabiru; and
- $1 million for a new roads strategy to be developed to improve safety on Kakadu’s remote roads.
Kakadu is one of Australia’s most recognisable tourist destinations and a World Heritage listed environmental and cultural site.
With the Ranger mine coming to an end in the next few years, Jabiru’s businesses and residents face an uncertain future. They need economic activity and jobs for their region – and that means more tourism.
In the late eighties, 300,000 people were visiting Kakadu every year. Now it has about 185,000 visitors a year – and international visitor numbers have plummeted.
More people have been visiting Nitmiluk Gorge in recent years.
The Coalition Government committed up to $216 million to protect the future of jobs and tourism at Kakadu.
Senator Nigel Scullion said the Government would deliver a package of measures that would ensure Kakadu National Park continues to be a world class tourism destination once the Ranger Uranium Mine stops operating in 2021.
“Kakadu is an iconic piece of the Territory and the Coalition is today unveiling a fair dinkum package of measures that will protect Kakadu for future generations to enjoy, and ensure the township of Jabiru continues to be a major service centre for the region,” he said.
The Government will invest over 10 years in:
- · $40m to upgrade campground infrastructure, walking tracks, viewing platforms and interpretive signs in six priority precincts within KNP
- · $5m to relocate the existing KNP visitor centre from Bowali to Jabiru Township
- · $3.5m to develop a Kakadu Tourism Master Plan and a Kakadu Roads Strategy
- · $2.5m to upgrade mobile and WiFi connection services
- · $20-60m to support the development of an Indigenous-led Kakadu Visitor Centre in Jabiru
- · $70m over 10 years to upgrade road access to key tourist sites in KNP
- · $35m over 10 years to support remediation of asbestos in Jabiru
The Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, representing the Mirarr traditional owners of Jabiru township in Kakadu National Park, has welcomed Coalition and ALP backing for the town’s masterplan and plan for the revitalisation of Kakadu.
In July 2018 the Mirarr negotiated and presented a vision and detailed masterplan for the economic future of the former mining town and the surrounding park. The NT Government had provided in‐principle support, but federal party positions were unclear until today.
“We look forward to welcoming more people to Jabiru and Kakadu to share our country and cultural heritage,” said Mirarr Traditional Owner Simon Nabanardi.
“As the town changes, we hope Jabiru will be recognised around the world as a significant Australian cultural destination, a place where learning about living culture is accessible in a meaningful way.”
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