The Covid-19 pause provides PNG a timely opportunity to recalibrate their management of the Kokoda Trail and work towards developing it as a World class destination based on our shared wartime heritage.Read More
Category: KOKODA TOUR OPERATORS ASSOCIATION
‘Je n’ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n’ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte’ wrote Blaise Pascal, a French mathematician and physicist in 1627. ‘I have made this longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter’ is the English translation
Pascal was trying to explain that his letter was longer than it needed to be, because he hadn’t worked out the correct answer.
The Kokoda Tour Operators Association used a similar approach in their latest 620 word diatribe to justify the ongoing exploitation of local PNG porters they engage.
Buried amongst a plethora of motherhood statements is the admission that they will continue to exploit their porters by overloading them.
What part of the fact that a 22.5 kg backpack is too heavy for porters to have to lug across difficult, muddy, mountainous terrain doesn’t the KTOA get?Read More
The welfare of PNG guides and carriers has been a contentious subject for some years however the recent death of a carrier who was allegedly overloaded by an Australian trek operator has brought the issue of their exploitation to to the forefront of the debate.
A recent forum organised by the Kokoda Track Authority (KTA) in Brisbane resulted in the CEO of PNG Tourism calling for a response to the issues that were raised – but could not be properly addressed due to agenda/time constraints.
Following is the submission by Adventure Kokoda on the issue of welfare for PNG guides and carriers engaged in the Kokoda Trekking Industry:
This response to the draft Minutes of the KTA Forum conducted in Brisbane on 28 November 2018 is based on the collective views of Adventure Kokoda trek leaders who have a combined total of 130 years professional army experience and who have led more than 520 expeditions across the trail over the past 27 years. Our ‘experience’ in protecting the welfare of our local guides and carriers is in line with the conclusions reached by Dr Geoffrey Vernon, Regimental Medical Officer for the 39th Battalion during the Kokoda campaign.
The KTA Forum was conducted at short notice with insufficient time to prepare detailed submissions for discussion. As it transpired it was more of a briefing session. No Notices of Motions were provided, none were moved and the only substantive decision taken was to have another forum in May 2019!
The Minutes of the previous Tour Operators Forum held in Cairns on 14-15 November were not tabled nor discussed in accordance with normal protocols. These minutes have now been outstanding for more than a year and the fact that they have never been produced after trek operators went to considerable expense to attend is indicative of either negligent administration or a cover-up of some sort.
Our Adventure Kokoda response to the forum will be in two parts.
Part 1 will address the most important issue that can no longer be postponed because it concerns the welfare protection of the local guides and carriers for the 2019 trekking season..
Part 2 will address the other issues presented at the forum and will be submitted early in the New Year.
School holidays offer great opportunities for Australian ‘blackbirders’ operating on the Kokoda Trail.
Blackbirding was a form of slavery which saw Papua New Guineans coerced into working as cheap labour on Queensland sugar plantations in the late 19th Century before it was outlawed.
However the practice has mutated into various forms since then and now involves shady operators who have cashed in on the Kokoda trekking industry over the past decade. Papua New Guinea is a governance free zone for blackbirders who are not subject to the same scrutiny they would receive in Australia.
The current dysfunction and debasement of the Kokoda Trail management authority provides them with free rein to promote themselves as legitimate. They are akin to a malarial parasite running through a quinine free bloodstream. There are no limits to the extent they can exploit local Papua New Guinean guides, carriers and villagers who live in a subsistence economy and are desperate for work.Read More
Editor’s note: After publishing the Charlie Lynn article Losing Kokoda on May 14, we received a letter in response from Sue Fitcher, president of the Kokoda Tour Operators Association. Ms Fitcher did not respond to an offer from...Read More
The Kokoda Tour Operators Association (KTOA) was established by a small group of Australian travel operators to protect their financial interests along the Kokoda Trail in PNG. The welfare of local PNG porters and villagers is...Read More
A review of the Kokoda Track Authority Commercial Operator Licence Conditions 2012Read More