Former Prime Minister Peter O’Neill ordered a review of the KTA in 2018 after he was advised of its failures since it was taken over by Australian environment officials in 2009.

He tasked Minister John Pundari, who was one of the most influential members within his government at the time to oversee the review.

Pundari then tasked CEPA to conduct the review.

The Terms of Reference for the tender were developed by the DFAT ‘Papua New Guinea Governance Facility’ (pgf).

The review was then conducted under the auspices of the DFAT Kokoda Initiative.

The tender was awarded to Tourism Recreational Conservation (TRC) Consultants.

TRC Consultants engaged Mr. Chris Halstead to conduct the review.

Halstead was a former Operations Manager for the KTA in 2010 and was therefore part of Rod Hillman’s team that failed to establish an effective and appropriate management system for Kokoda tourism.

It was therefore highly unlikely he would be critical of the system he helped establish.

The Terms of Reference should has sought to explore the following four options:

  • Operate as a profit based Government enterprise within Kumul Consolidated Holdings with an equal shareholding between Government and local Incorporated Landowner Groups;
  • Operate as an incorporated company with Government and ILGs as equal shareholders;
  • Operate as a National Government agency; or
  • Continue to operate as a Provincial and Local Level Government Special Purpose Authority.

Such a review would have included the advantages and disadvantages of each option with informed recommendations.

Unfortunately it was carefully constructed to limit its options which resulted in a review of the status quo – a clever bureaucratic ploy.

The review itself contains a great deal of repetition with much cut-and-paste material from previous reports which were themselves flawed in regard to the realities of the Kokoda trekking industry. It also contains a lot of bureaucratic jargon which is difficult for the layman to understand.

Our review team therefore broke it down to bite-sized chunks and responded to each claim in plain English.