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Pauline Hanson just compared Uluru to Bondi Beach and sweetie... no.

October 26 is a special date for the Anangu people.

For the traditional owners of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and its surrounding land, where Australia’s most iconic and sacred rock Uluru stands, the date marks when the Australian government returned the ownership of the land back to them in 1985.

It’s also the date settled on in 2019 to permanently ban the climbing of Uluru.

Listen to Mamamia’s brand new podcast, Tiddas 4 Tiddas, a podcast series where Kamilaroi and Dunghutti woman, Marlee Silva sits down with some of Australia’s deadliest Indigenous sisters. Post continues after podcast. 

Although the date is still three months away, the imminent closure has sparked an avalanche of tourists determined to make their way up the sandstone rock before the opportunity is closed to them forever.

Last Wednesday, a photo shared on Twitter showed a huge crush of people scurrying up the sandstone monolith. The Anangu call climbers “minga mob” or ants, as from afar they look just like a fleet of crawling ants, their sheer numbers overwhelming anything they climb.

“There’s cars parked either side of the road for about 1km leading up to the car park at the base,” the tweet read.

To many, the viral photo proved exactly why climbing Uluru must be banned. It’s not just the climbers; atop the rock lies human waste and litter, its surrounds congested with people illegally camping on the side of the road and trespassing on sacred bush land.

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But not to Pauline Hanson.

Today, the One Nation leader weighed in on the Uluru climbing ban, and in a view that will surprise precisely no one, she said she is not a fan. In fact, she finds the ban a “ridiculous” move.

Appearing on the Today show this morning, Hanson said she believed the ban shouldn’t be enforced as “we’ve been climbing the Ayers Rock, or Uluru, for many years”.

“The fact is, it’s money-making. It’s giving jobs to the Indigenous community, you’ve got over 4-500,000 tourists a year that want to go there and climb the rock,” she said.

“It’s no different to saying we’re going to close down Bondi Beach because there are some people there that have drowned. How ridiculous is that! This is an iconic site for all Australians.”

Oh Pauline, it should go without saying but here we are saying it – Uluru is not the same as… Bondi Beach. Or any beach for that matter.

She added: “I can’t see the cultural sensitivity when people have been climbing the rock all these years and all of a sudden they want to shut it down? I don’t get it, I really don’t get it.”

Of course, Pauline Hanson doesn’t get it. She’s never really tried to get it.

Yes, people have been climbing Uluru for decades. Even though the traditional owners have been asking visitors not to climb the rock since they were officially handed the land back in 1985. Even though a sign has stood at the base of Uluru for just as long asking people to respect the wishes of the traditional owners and not climb their sacred Uluru.

“The climb is not prohibited but we ask you to respect our law and culture by not climbing Uluru. We have a responsibility to teach and safeguard visitors to our land. The climb can be dangerous. Too many people have died while attempting to climb Uluru,” the sign reads.

We know that at least 37 people have died while climbing Uluru, a statistic that is devastating to the Anangu people who feel a personal duty of care for any visitor who is injured or dies visiting their land.

As we approach the 34th anniversary of the return of Uluru, we do well to listen not to voices like Pauline Hanson but the traditional owners of the land in which Uluru has sat for millennia.

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