The Kokoda Track Authority - A star or villain?


Event details

Date & time

Monday 22 March 2010


Miller Theater in Old Canberra House


Robert Bino


Emma Aisbett
6125 4351
Robert Bino is a PhD candidate in the Resource Management in Asia-Pacific Program. His thesis dissertation is titled “Conservation and Development options for the Kokoda Track and surrounding areas”.
The Kokoda Track (KT) as a WWII relic and an iconic site for Australian-based pilgrimage tourism is located deep in rugged terrain and remote jungles of SE Papua New Guinea (PNG). Keeping the KT open for business throughout the trekking season could be a tricky affair, because it involves a complex ?balancing act? between the aspirations of a variety of powerful and influential stakeholders of which the three main ballpark players include: the PNG Government (GoPNG), the Australian Government and the ethnic customary landowners who inhabit sections of the track including adjoining areas that host complimentary landuse interests associated with current and planned efforts to protect the integrity of the KT. The Kokoda Track Authority (KTA), an institutional mechanism of GoPNG established in 2003 through an Act of Parliament bears the difficult task of finding the middle ground at the intersection of these three stakeholders? interests. The track?s customary landowners apply ?jungle justice? tactics by shutting down the KT to tourist traffic, or collecting toll when they have outstanding grievances, which tend to lean more towards family and clan affiliations than the common good. KTA?s organisational and governance structures have also undergone major transformations under keen technical and financial support from the Australian Government with an aim to ensure equity in benefit-distribution for the customary landowners of the track. In addition, the novel concept of benefit-sharing also appears to be a matter of concern in which local landowners are pursuing against external stakeholders.

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