Parks Australia issued a ‘please explain’ as Kakadu crisis deepens
THE man in charge of the troubled Kakadu National Park is expected to hand his response to recent allegations to federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley by this morning.
The latest development comes as Ms Ley prepares to make the journey up to the NT, once border restrictions allow, to meet face-to-face with Aboriginal traditional owners of Kakadu in a bid to solve a crisis between stakeholders and Parks Australia.
Kakadu's Board of Management last week declared the relationship with Parks Australia brass untenable and demanded they resign.
The Northern Land Council (NLC), which has stepped up as mediator between the feuding sides, again called for "urgent action" to resolve the matter.
A spokesman for Ms Ley confirmed the Minister had asked National Parks director James Findlay to respond to the issues laid out, which include a history of poor communication with tourism operators, the handling of a 2019 helicopter crash in the park, and uncontrolled burns and bushfires in the World Heritage site in the past year.
"This is a chance to understand both perspectives before meeting with the traditional owners and that is entirely appropriate," the spokesman said.
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"This is not a departmental investigation, which would be carried out in different circumstances."
It comes as Chief Minister Michael Gunner reiterated he was "happy to negotiate" any return of Kakadu to the Northern Territory government's hands, a suggestion that sparked a squabble between him and the NLC.
NLC chief executive Marion Scrymgour said it was "a bit cheeky" for the Territory government to suggest taking back control of the park without input from traditional owners.
"(They) should have a say in who looks after the park and the Chief Minister shouldn't be making those decision or signal to Canberra, 'I will take over it'," she said.
However, Mr Gunner said he had previously spoken with Ms Scrymgour about the Kakadu National Park management problem and she indicated "she'd be happy to have the conversation about the option of the Territory government negotiating for more direct management of the park".
Originally published as Parks Australia issued a 'please explain' as Kakadu crisis deepens