August 26, 2019


SUBJECT: Pauline Hanson climbing Uluru

STEWART BRASH, ABC ALICE SPRINGS: Of course last week One Nation Senator Pauline Hanson was ruffling feathers as she went to the Rock, saw some Traditional Owners, spoke to Reggie and Cassidy Uluru and got permission to climb the Rock. She barely made it up the Rock. I think she took a few steps and decided the better of going up. So, she did seek permission. She’s raised issues over the safety of the climb. She says she would respect their decision is they said no you can't climb but what does this mean? Does this mean Pauline Hanson is on side? Does this mean maybe Pauline Hanson is seen as a hero in this situation?

Malarndirri McCarthy is a Labor Senator for the Northern Territory. Malarndirri, good morning.

MALARNDIRRI MCCARTHY, NT SENATOR: Hello Stewart. Hello to all your listeners.

BRASH: Thank you. What do you make of Senator Hanson saying she visited the Rock, she spoke to Traditional Owners, she spoke to, amongst others, the Uluru brothers: Reggie and Cassidy. Do you respect her for getting out of the Canberra bubble and actually going go the Rock?

MCCARTHY: Well look I actually invited her as well, Brashie, just last month and said to Senator Hanson in Canberra I think it’s important if you can get to Uluru and be briefed by the Anangu, and meet the Parks Board, and also Voyages and get an understanding of the preparation. So I think it’s really commendable that she made the visit, and that's important for all politicians, as they debate this, to be informed properly so that we can have a sensible debate.

BRASH: It's interesting I think she sought to speak to Board members. I think she spoke to, in this group of Elders she did meet, she spoke with one of the proxy members of the Board, but I'm not sure if the Board was making themselves open to speaking with. If that's the case, surely the Board should have been a bit more open in talking to her?

MCCARTHY: Well I am not sure if the Board has come on your program Stewart but –

BRASH: No but I would love to speak to the Board. They haven't come on this program.

MCCARTHY: I certainly met with rangers just a couple of days before Senator Hanson got there because I had initially planned to meet with the First Nations caucus or First Nations shadow ministers there just that weekend so I was able to talk with rangers and staff at the Park Board and they were all preparing for Senator Hanson's visit so I'm a bit surprised that they were unable to talk with her. I think I'd have to get a further briefing from them on that.


BRASH: From what I can tell, the group she spoke to, which included Murray George, the two Uluru brothers: Cassidy and Reggie; she spoke to them but they represent this new body, which I'd never heard of until recently, the Council of Elders, which seems to be distinct from the Board of Management, distinct from APY, so I am not sure of their status. Do you know this group? Have you come across this group? Tjunpuna Ruby was mentioned.

MCCARTHY: I certainly had a representative come and see me in Canberra last month, that was the first I was aware of this Elders’ Council, but I think we do have to go back – and you're correct – to the authority that’s been responsible all these years and decades and that is the Anangu, in terms of the Board there, and also conversations around Mutitjulu, with the Mutitjulu Community Aboriginal Corporation, and all of those groups that we know. So, look, I am aware of the Elders’ Council now.

BRASH: It did seem to be that when she spoke to them she said they were happy for her to climb so they gave her permission to climb, so does that suggest there are some Traditional Owners who are happy with people to climb, even though they know that they still want to close? There seems to be two different messages there.

MCCARTHY: Well, look, I actually met with both the brothers, the Uluru brothers, again just a couple of days before at Mutitjulu and I note that I think Senator Hanson didn’t actually go there. When I was out at Muitjulu and I met with quite a lot of people there, they were just very stressed about the whole focus and the kind of debate that was on. And when I met with the Uluru brothers they were certainly very determined to see that the closure of the climb was something to look forward to. In fact that's what they were talking about – the celebration that's going to take place on the 27th of October, so I don't know what the circumstances are in which the conversation took place but I can say this, Stewart, and I think you identified it in your interview, that the Rock is open anyway. We know that the Rock is open now and I just think that for the pressure that Anangu are under right now, is enormous.

BRASH: Do you think it will change the nature of the debate with what Pauline Hanson is saying?

MCCARTHY: Look I think it just shows that you do have to go to Uluru. But I don’t think people will change their minds in not respecting the Anangu. Clearly the 26th October is about the closure of the climb and I'm hearing reports that people are very respectful of that.

BRASH: Malarndirri McCarthy thanks for your time.

MCCARTHY: Thank you