Pauline Hanson’s surprising Uluru allies
Pauline Hanson took her fight to keep the Uluru climb open to the rock itself in Australia's Red Centre, and she found some unexpected supporters.
The One Nation leader has been a vocal critic of the upcoming ban on climbing the sacred Indigenous site in the Northern Territory, comparing it to closing down Sydney's Bondi Beach.
Senator Hanson travelled with a crew from A Current Affair to raise the issue directly with traditional owners, in a move that has been highly criticised on social media and by Labor MP Linda Burney.
The Channel 9 show pre-empted the outrage by clarifying on air that it did not suggest the idea for the segment, but rather was approached by Senator Hanson's office. And while it didn't pay for her time, it did cover "some" of the associated travel expenses.
Senator Hanson was met with some hostility when she arrived at the site, with a group of young female cafe workers labelling her stance disrespectful.
"I'm Indigenous," she told them. "I was born here. I'm native to the land. I'm Australian as well and I'm Indigenous as well."
Her insistence that she considers herself Indigenous was met with smirks, with the women telling Senator Hanson that her "land" is England.
Senator Hanson said traditional owners and local elders had expressed concern to her about "outside Aboriginals" taking the bulk of jobs at Uluru.
The cafe workers she spoke to admitted they're not from the Northern Territory.
"Aboriginals from outside are coming to take jobs from the locals. The locals aren't getting the jobs here and what's what they're worried about," she said.
When asked about the opposition from the women, Senator Hanson said they were entitled to their opinion, but she wasn't interested in it.
"They've had their opinion. I've come, not to talk to a 19-year-old or 20-year-old who's not from the area. I'm listening to the traditional owners of the land."
She spent time with Jimpanna Yulara, a senior member of the Anangu Mayatja Council of Elders, who was concerned about the long-term economic impact of the closure of the climb, which will be enforced in two weeks' time.
And Senator Hanson also had a private meeting with Cassidy and Reggie Uluru, traditional owners of the site, who gave her their blessing to climb.
They were "happy" that she had visited.
Finding unexpected support from local elders and traditional owners demonstrated her view that opposition to climbing Uluru was something that mostly "outsiders" were pushing, Senator Hanson said.
"A lot of people have a lot of respect for me and appreciate the job I'm doing for them," she said.
Those who don't "have their own agenda", she said.
When it came time for Senator Hanson to climb Uluru, after two failed attempts due to precarious winds forcing the track's closure, she found it harder than expected.
A short distance up, she was forced to stop because her shoes weren't gripping and she was worried about slipping.
"Seriously, I cannot walk down here. My boots are that bloody old. They're so smooth I'm not getting any grip. I tell you what, I'm not getting any grip on my backside either."
Should she be successful in keeping the climb open, which is unlikely, Senator Hanson said she would push for safety improvements.
"This belongs to all Australians," she said. "I think it's special."
A Current Affair host Tracy Grimshaw pointed out that the show limited the amount of footage broadcast showing people climbing Uluru, out of respect to Indigenous Australians.
Pauline Hanson telling a group of young indigenous Australians that she is also indigenous! Yep, this conversation is going well. #ACA— lehmo (@lehmo23) August 26, 2019
Doctor’s waiting room is the ONLY place I’d watch Pauline Hanson on ACA but my god I can’t tear my eyes away from this car crash.— Anna Brain (@Brainybites) August 26, 2019
Ha. The ACA story on Pauline Hanson's Uluru whinge just tried to start, had the vision then the audio glitch, then randomly cut to an advert.— Alana Calvert (@AlanaCalvert) August 26, 2019
I assume climbers that took selfies with Pauline Hanson on the Rock were paid actors ? I assume the poll @ACurrentAffair9 which is showing strong support for climbing Uluru is fake ? #9aca Or maybe Hanson does have support ? maybe large numbers support her but dont do twitter— Darren Beale (@DarrenBeale2) August 26, 2019
Pauline Hanson makes my blood boil. Just watching her argue with young aboriginal woman and saying that she is indigenous because she was born in Australia and that this is her land....are you kidding me?! Words cannot describe how much I dislike (putting it nicely) that woman.— Jasmine Mead (@jasminemead95) August 26, 2019
Social media reacted swiftly to the segment, with Twitter users slamming Senator Hanson's ignoring of requests of many not to climb Uluru.
Many were critical of the show itself for taking part in what some considered a blatant stunt.