By the close of 2008 the management of the Kokoda Trail was in an impossible position.

Warren Bartlett, a former Kiap and Local Government Administrator, was appointed CEO of the Kokoda Track (Special Purpose) Authority by the Minister for Intergovernmental Relations, Provincial and Local Level Government Affairs, Sir Peter Barter in 2003.

No allowance was made for funding the position, an office, or staff.

He was therefore required to fund his own salary and all other expenses.

The Australian Government was aware of the situation but, apart from hosting a few meetings, did nothing to help.

The Board of Directors appointed by the Minister included representatives with no experience in business, management, tourism, or any understanding of the term ‘governance’.

Bartlett operated from his property on the Sogeri Plateau and had been providing logistic support to treks conducted by Adventure Kokoda since 2002.

He then set up a room at his property to run the KTA. The Board approved a salary of $12,500 (K25,000) and the engagement of a part-time secretary.

After his appointment he requested an advance of $10,000 (K22,500) from Adventure Kokoda to allow him to operate until income from trek fees started to flow.

During his time as CEO trekker numbers increased by 423% from 1074 in 2003 to 5621 in 2008.

But by this time a few influential Board members were corrupting the process at every turn by making false claims for expenses and transferring funds to a separate account they established. Bartlett was aware of their activities and was aware of their attempts to have him replaced.

In addition to this Australian tour operators took advantage of the situation and failed to pay trek permit fees for 1600 trekkers in 2008.

Bartlett was also aware of their intentions and established an audit checkpoint half-way along the Trail which exposed their attempts to avoid having to pay for trek permits.