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Joint Media Release
Greg Hunt MP
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Flinders
David Tollner MP
Federal Member for Solomon
2 December 2004
Mr David Tollner, Federal Member for Solomon and Mr Greg Hunt, Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment and Heritage today announced that entry to Kakadu National Park will be free from Monday 20 December 2004.
Mr Tollner welcomed the announcement and said he was delighted that the people of Darwin would now have a real incentive to visit this national park on their doorstep.
"This is great news for Territorians, particularly the people of Darwin," Mr Tollner said.
"Many Darwin people have never visited Kakadu - now's the time for them to go out for a weekend, to fish and camp and enjoy the fantastic wildlife and rich indigenous culture."
"I understand that Parks Australia is working on new signs and road changes so that the new arrangements are all ready for the next dry season."
Mr Hunt said the decision today honours the Prime Minister's promise in July that Kakadu entry fees would be abolished by January 1, 2005.
"I am delighted that we have been able to implement this commitment so quickly and to honour the Prime Minister's assurance that traditional owners will not be disadvantaged as a result of this decision," Mr Hunt said.
"Visitors to Kakadu have dropped steadily since 1999 and were the lowest in 10 years in 2003. The abolition of entry fees is the first step to a revitalised tourism experience in this fantastic World Heritage park.
"I am working with the Prime Minister on funding arrangements for the traditional owners, and we can guarantee that the Government will make up in full the funding stream that once came from fees.
"We are committed to working with Kakadu's traditional owners to ensure they benefit from any future prosperity in the park and that the park maintains its status as a World Heritage property.
"And we are providing a park budget supplementation package to ensure that management activities in Kakadu and payments to traditional owners are not negatively affected by the decision."