Category: OUR VIEWPOINT

Wayne Wetherall of Kokoda Spirit loses appeal over claims he spat on his female employee during outbursts.

Lynette Kelly claimed during her time with Kokoda Spirit her boss, Wayne Wetherall, had stood over her and yelled at her to “the point he was spitting on her”, refused her access to paid leave without reasonable basis, and frequently had angry outbursts of aggressive behaviour, which caused her enormous stress and anxiety. Kelly also alleged she had been exposed to explicit pornographic messages and images authored by, and featuring Wetherall, which were linked to the Kokoda Spirit Facebook page.

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Database Evaluation of the Kokoda Tourism Industry: 2003-2019

Official data, based on the number of Trek Permits issued by the Kokoda Track (Special Purpose) Authority (KTA), reveals that villagers across the Kokoda Trail have suffered a cumulative loss of K49.7 million in foregone income opportunities since the DFAT-Kokoda Initiative assumed responsibility for its management in 2009.   A Kokoda Livelihoods Study by Pacific Islands Projects revealed the DFAT-Kokoda Initiative allocates just 1% of their budget to ‘income generating projects’ for villagers across the Trail.

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Environment bill for Kokoda – a suicide note for pilgrimage tourism!

This is not a PNG bill – it’s an Australian environment bill being imposed on PNG in a clandestine manner.

There is no record of any consultation with key stakeholders in Kokoda pilgrimage tourism in the drafting process of the bill as required by PNG law.

The bill seeks to extend the influence of foreign aid-funded officials by expanding the gazetted boundaries of the Kokoda Trail to include a large part of the Owen Stanley Ranges and protecting their aid-funded careers with another layer of unnecessary environmental legislation.

The bill fails to acknowledge that the Kokoda Trail is PNGs most popular pilgrimage tourism destination and should therefore be managed on a commercial basis as a tourism enterprise owned by Traditional Resource Custodians (TRCs) for the benefit of their village communities.

Following are comments on each section of the proposed bill along with serious questions that need to be answered by the proponents of the bill before it is considered any further.

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The fallacy of a ‘Lost Battlefield’ on Kokoda

The story of Kokoda is second only to Gallipoli in the annals of Australia’s military history – but it’s been a slow awakening!
Since Prime Minister John Howard and PNGs Grand Chief, Sir Michael Somare, opened a solemn memorial at Isurava on the 60th anniversary of the Kokoda campaign in 2002, scores of books have been published, television documentaries produced, and more than 54,000 Australians from all walks of life have trekked across it.
It was inevitable that the pilgrimage, which is a serious physical and emotional challenge, would eventually attract its share of entrepreneurial urgers, and rent-seekers from the government aid-sector.

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