Vows to turn Kakadu into world-lead­ing na­tional park

NT News - - FRONT PAGE - LAU­REN ROBERTS

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

Pic­ture: LAU­REN ROBERTS

Mi­rarr tra­di­tional owner Si­mon Mud­jandi, Op­po­si­tion Leader Bill Shorten, and Mi­rarr tra­di­tional owner Cor­ben Mud­jandi

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