The Guardian: Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten scramble to pledge more than $200m for Kakadu
13th January 2019
Kakadu national park will get a boost worth more than $200m, with both the major parties committing to revitalise the world heritage-listed Northern Territory site.
The prime minister, Scott Morrison, visited the town of Jabiru on Sunday to announce the Coalition’s $216m package.
The government’s plan includes $70m for road upgrades and up to $111m to improve tourism infrastructure.
“As a government we are committed to our stewardship responsibilities to this unique national treasure and supporting the thousands of Australians whose livelihoods and communities depend on it,” Morrison said.
Australia’s largest national park will receive a funding injection regardless of which party wins this year’s federal election.
Labor has pledged $220m for Kakadu if it wins government with the opposition leader, Bill Shorten, set to travel to the NT on Sunday night.
Labor’s plan includes $100m to upgrade four key access roads, $45m for urgent asbestos work in Jabiru and $25m for a new visitor centre in the town.
Both packages aim to arrest a decline in tourist numbers, which have fallen from 300,000 a year in the late 1980s to about 185,000.
Shorten said tourism and the environment of Kakudu had been neglected for too long.
“I genuinely don’t mind if the prime minister wants to take some of our ideas and announce them,” he told reporters in Melbourne. “I don’t care about the politics. I care about the issues.”
The chair of Kakadu Tourism, Rick Allert, welcomed the announcements, saying better services and access were essential to getting more visitors to the area.
“Our Cooinda and Jabiru properties are fully indigenous owned and have provided the lifeblood of Kakadu’s tourism industry for many decades,” Allert said.