TRANSCRIPT: TODAY SHOW - Response to Pauline Hanson’s comments on climbing Uluru

July 16, 2019



SUBJECT: Response to Pauline Hanson’s comments on climbing Uluru.

DEBORAH KNIGHT, TODAY:Well joining us now for her take is Northern Territory Senator Malarndirri McCarthy. Malarndirri good morning to you.


KNIGHT: A lot of people support Pauline Hanson on this. Many others don’t, and in the spirit of her famous Please Explain question, you’re reaching out to her to do just that. What are you inviting Pauline to do?

MCCARTHY: Well just in her comments then, she said she couldn’t see the importance of it, so clearly it is important that she actually comes to Uluru and has an opportunity to see for herself. The work that’s been going on up here, Deb, hasn’t just happened over night. This has been going on for well over a decade almost. Tourism organisations, individuals and other organisations have worked collectively in preparation for this important day.

KNIGHT: She makes the point though that stopping people climbing or hiking on Uluru will potentially damage tourism and harm Indigenous communities who rely on visitors for jobs and income. Is there any indication that that could be the outcome from this?

MCCARTHY: Well Senator Hanson is incorrect. Because what has occurred is that there is employment at the rock and there will continue to be. This has been a very planned methodical process for quite a number of years. And I think it’s really unfortunate, Deb, that a member of the Senate, a parliamentarian who has the opportunity to get as much information as she possibly can has not done that and that’s why it’s really critical that Senator Hanson thinks very seriously about taking up the offer [to visit Uluru]. I am prepared to facilitate that [visit]. We need to have constructive debate in this country and very well-informed debate and until Senator Hanson gets the information, in particular from the Anangu people, this information that’s she’s providing across the country, is nothing short of scare mongering really.

KNIGHT: So why are local Indigenous people stopping climbers on Uluru? You say this has been years coming, and it has been, there’s been plenty of warning that October was the date, but what is the reasoning?

MCCARTHY: Yes certainly, and it’s an important question. The Uluru Kata Tjuta Board of the National Park has been preparing for this – they’ve had a number of indicators, one of which has been to see the reduction of the climb below 20% of visitors to the Rock resort area want to climb. And that’s important to take on board. We know that simply because this has been – these statistics that those in that area have taken over the years – people go for the cultural experience of working and understanding the First Nations people, and so when you have the First Nations people of that particular area, and in this case the Anangu, express this desire and have planned considerably and thoughtfully towards this, it is enormously unfortunate the rhetoric that’s going on to scare people. The First Nations people are the ones who are very clear, they want Indigenous people to be employed and they’re certainly employed and that won’t change.  

KNIGHT: And why is Uluru specifically so significant?

MCCARTHY: It is a sacred place, Deb, in terms of the Tjukurpa, the songlines for the Anangu people, it’s a sacred place, a spiritual place, around the Rock and for those people who visited they would know that. And for those who haven’t, please still come. It is a sacred place and when you go there, it’s this enormous rock in the middle of nowhere that fills the heart. I remember taking Oprah Winfrey there in 2010 as [NT] Tourism Minister and she understood completely the importance of the spirituality of the place. We actually flew around the rock, there are many other initiatives that people can take; there’s camel rides; there’s balloon rides; there’s walks; there’s runs; there’s cycles; and there’s opportunities for breakfast after the sun rises with the Traditional Owners, three hours. There are so many other things that take place at the Rock and I just urge Senator Hanson, come and actually see that.

KNIGHT: We’ll see if she takes up the offer and it is good to have your take on the issue this morning Malarndirri thank you so much for joining us.

MCCARTHY: Thank you Deb.