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Kakadu decision-political expediency

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Kakadu decision-political expediency 18/11/83

The Government's decision to inject $36 million into tourist developments for Kakadu National Park is a thinly veiled attempt to win votes in the Northern Territory election, Shadow Minister for the Environment, David Connolly said today.

"The decision to declare Stage II of the National Park and preclude development of the Jabiluka and Koongarra must be seen as a trade off within the Government factions over its decision to mine Roxby Downs," Mr Connolly said.

"Once again this Government is leaving important development and environmental policies to political expediency arid ignoring the interests of the Northern Territory government which believes its future depends on uranium mining as well as tourism."

"The Opposition believes the Prime Minister should have consulted with the Chief Minister for the Northern Territory and declared only half of Stage II a National Park, exempting the Jabiluka reserve and making the remainder a conservation zone for an interim period of twelve months."

"None of this $36million will be for the protection and management of the Park which in itself, costs millions of dollars."

"The Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service is already under pressure and the Government is straining to provide funds to protect the South-West Tasmania World heritage area."

"By phasing out the uranium industry, the Hawke Government is effectively reducing the base from which revenue can be drawn to maintain these great National Parks."

"It is also ignoring the possibility of directing a percentage of any export levy obtained from Jabiluka or Koongarra into the protection and maintenance of Kakadu National Park."

"The Opposition is also concerned that the Government tourist proposals will influence the delicate ecology and sacred Aboriginal sites in the area. It must remember that the Fox Report recommended that population within the Park should not exceed 3 500 and that tourist

accomodation be found outside the Park or at one or two carefully selected places within it."

"The greatest possible threat to the Kakadu National Park is uncontrolled human activity, rather than controlled uranium mining," Mr Connolly said.

Contact: Canberra 72 7087 or Sydney 239 3199.