Vows to turn Kakadu into world-leading national park
WORK on improving Kakadu National Park will begin within the next year if Labor is elected to government this year, insists Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.
Mr Shorten was in Jabiru yesterday to sell his $220 million proposal to upgrade Kakadu National Park and said practical on-the-ground work would begin in the first term of his first budget.
“What we’re going to do is put more of the money we’re promising in our first couple of years, from our first budget, because Kakadu and Jabiru need rescuing now, not in 10 years time,” he said.
“Kakadu doesn’t have 10 years to wait.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who was in Jabiru Sunday to spruik his government’s $216 million, 10-year commitment to Jabiru and Kakadu National Park, was unable to give an exact start date for his party’s proposal.
Federal Environment Minister Melissa Price said in the next year, the Coalition would release a “very clear plan” outlining when work would start on projects across Kakadu.
“It’s over a 10-year period, and we’ll be sure to consult with the right people,” Ms Price said.
Conveniently, Mr Morrison’s last-minute NT trip was scheduled just one day before Mr Shorten flew into Jabiru.
While Mr Morrison shrugged the timing off as a coincidence, Mr Shorten claimed the Prime Minister was copying his itinerary.
“They say that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery so it's a good start of the year,” he said.
“If Mr Morrison wants to borrow some of our ideas it’s fine by me.”
Mr Shorten and NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner made time to sit down with Mirarr traditional owners while in Jabiru, but the Prime Minister did not schedule a visit with the TOs.
Mr Gunner welcomed the commitments made by both parties, which gave Territorians the assurance that postelection — regardless of which party was elected — Kakadu National Park and Jabiru would be redeveloped.
“We now have a guarantee after the next federal election hundreds of millions of dollars will be invested into Kakadu National Park,” he said.
“We know how important Kakadu is for driving international visitor numbers and driving local jobs.” Looking at the plans put forward by both the Liberal and Labor parties, Mirarr traditional owner Simon Mudjandi said he didn’t have a favourite out of the two different plans for Kakadu National Park.
Mr Mudjandi said he was feeling “really confident and really happy” about the future of his land after hearing major funding announcements by both of Australia’s major political leaders. “We want the money to go toward every business that’s here in Jabiru, like the building resource centre, the world heritage centre, and the luxury hotel that’s going to be built here,” he said.
Fellow Mirarr traditional owner Corben Mudjandi is hopeful the multimillion-dollar federal investment would help indigenous kids connect with their culture and provide jobs for locals.
“Kakadu doesn’t have 10 years to wait” OPPOSITION LEADER BILL SHORTEN
Mirarr traditional owner Simon Mudjandi, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, and Mirarr traditional owner Corben Mudjandi