In early December 2017, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill announced that an independent review would be undertaken into the Kokoda Track Authority (KTA). The review will consider matters relating to KTA’s governance arrangements, structure, mandate, responsibilities and accountability. Ministerial responsibility for the review lies with Minister for the Environment & Conservation, Hon. John Pundari, as the lead PNG Minister for the Kokoda Initiative.
A taskforce has been established by the Chief Secretary to oversee the review process. The taskforce is chaired on behalf of the Chief Secretary by Deputy Secretary of PM&NEC, Mr John Punde, and includes Secretary of DPLGA Mr Dickson Guina, Managing Director of Conservation and Environmental Protection Authority Mr Gunther Joku. CEO of Tourism Promotion Authority Mr Jerry Agus and CEO of KTA Mr James Enage will participate also.
On 12 December 2017, the Chief Secretary’s taskforce, in consultation with the CEOs of the Kokoda Track Authority and the Tourism Promotion Authority, agreed to terms of reference for the KTA review. Following this agreement, the taskforce requested that the Australian Government fund the independent review, which the Australian Government agreed to do. Requests for tender to conduct the review were advertised in late December 2017, and will remain open to submissions until 5 February 2018.
Once the successful tenderer has been appointed, the taskforce will continue to ensure that it adheres to the agreed terms of reference. It is essential that the review process be transparent, credible and comprehensive. On completion, under the agreed terms of reference the taskforce will consider the independent review recommendations and report to Minister Pundari and the Kokoda Initiative Committee, who will take a submission to Government. The National Executive Council will then decide on the future mandate of the KTA and its resourcing. In the meantime the KTA will continue to operate under its current Proclamation.
Ensuring the effectiveness and credibility of implementing agencies such as the KTA is critical to the delivery of the Kokoda Initiative.
The Kokoda Initiative is a partnership between the Governments of Papua New Guinea and Australia to support the people of the track, to preserve the military heritage of the track and increase the trekking experience, and to preserve the region’s natural resources and cultural heritage.