Jan 14, 2019

Media Release – Labor Will Rescue Kakadu – Monday, 14 January, 2019

A Shorten Labor Government will invest $220 million in infrastructure and community development projects to dramatically improve Kakadu National Park as a tourist destination and secure the future of the township of Jabiru.

Mr Shorten will travel to the Northern Territory on Sunday evening and visit Kakadu on Monday as one of Labor’s long planned first official events of the year. He will be joined by Chief Minister of the Northern Territory Michael Gunner, Member for Lingiari Warren Snowden, Member for Solomon Luke Gosling, Chair of ALP First Nations Caucus Senator Malarndirri McCarthy and Traditional Owners.

Labor will 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.

There has been a great deal of work done by the Northern Territory government and stakeholders on improving tourism in Kakadu and helping Jabiru transition from mining to tourism. We applaud the Chief Minister Michael Gunner and his government for undertaking this important work.

Kakadu is one of Australia’s most recognisable tourist destinations and a World Heritage listed environmental and cultural site.

Cared for by its Aboriginal custodians for 65,000 years, Kakadu is home to spectacular scenery, pristine environment, and immense cultural value. It is a natural wonder that should be celebrated and shared with the world.

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.

Because the upgrades that the national park desperately needs have been ignored for too long, fewer tourists are visiting and Kakadu has gone backwards.

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.

Kakadu National Park is a key driver of the Territory economy and supports jobs. A recent NT Government study noted that tourism supported around 1,700 jobs – or 18 per cent of total employment – in Kakadu and surrounding regions. Tourism accounts for around 10 per cent of the Gross Regional Product in regional NT.

We want Kakadu to be at the top of the list for Australian and international visitors – and Labor will help make that happen.

The local Traditional Owners have developed a blueprint for the future of Kakadu and Jabiru – for more investment, more tourism and more jobs. Labor is backing this blueprint.

A Shorten Labor Government will:

Invest $100 million to upgrade four key access roads in Kakadu National Park – allowing for year-round access to key tourist destinations in Kakadu. 

Labor will upgrade:

  • Jim Jim Falls Access Road;
  • Gimbat Road;
  • Gunlom Falls Access Road; and
  • Maguk Gorge Access Road.

These roads are currently unsealed, which means they have to be closed for long periods during the wet season, shutting out tourists.

Upgrading the roads will make it easier for people to access key environmental and cultural sites, and allow for accommodation and visitor facilities to be provided for the areas.

Making sure these destinations are open year-round will help boost visitor numbers to Kakadu.

Invest $44 million for national park infrastructure and heritage upgrades. 

Labor will provide Kakadu National Park with funding to:

  • Upgrade existing camp sites and build new camp sites;
  • Upgrade car parks;
  • Refurbish and improve visitor amenities throughout the national park; and
  • Upgrade signage to make it easier and safer for visitors to travel through the national park.

Some of this funding will also be used for environmental management works – such as traditional burning, weed control, management of feral animals, and crocodile management.

Road safety is a huge issue in Kakadu, with nine people killed on the roads in the first 10 months of 2018. We will invest $1 million in a new Kakadu roads strategy, consulting with experts to improve safety for locals and tourists.

Invest $25 million to build a new Kakadu visitor centre

A new visitor centre in the Jabiru township will connect to transport routes in the national park, securing Jabiru’s position as the gateway to Kakadu.

It will be a World Heritage and Interpretative Centre for the park’s visitors, and also house an art store, museum store, café and function space – as well as provide for further commercial opportunities.

Invest $2.5 million to improve mobile phone reception in the national park

There is currently no mobile coverage in most of Kakadu National Park, and limited coverage in Jabiru and surrounding areas.

This investment, which will be matched by the Northern Territory Government, will improve mobile phone coverage for the region – making Kakadu a more attractive and safer destination for visitors, and improving life for residents and businesses.

Invest $45 million for urgent asbestos removal and remediation works in Jabiru. 

There is remnant asbestos in the wall sheeting of many residential and commercial properties in Jabiru, as well as in water and sewerage pipes.

These funds will be used to deliver a 10-year program of asbestos removal and remediation.

Invest $2.5 million in a new Kakadu Tourism Masterplan 

The masterplan will help bring all of these ideas together to ensure the best result is delivered for Kakadu.

As well as roads, access, park infrastructure and a healthy environment, the masterplan will also look at how to increase visitor numbers and access tourist markets in Australia and around the world.

Labor believes Kakadu National Park and Jabiru have a bright future.

While Scott Morrison and the Liberals have been fighting themselves in Canberra, locals have been left waiting to hear if his government will support the Jabiru masterplan.

With a Shorten Labor Government, the future of Jabiru and Kakadu is guaranteed.