Joanita Wibowo

Domestic Travel

"We have been inundated with comments": Today show responds to Uluru backlash

"We have been inundated with comments": Today show responds to Uluru backlash

The Today show has responded to the backlash it received over an all-white panel discussion on the Uluru climbing ban which aired on Monday.

The segment, which was hosted by Deborah Knight, featured One Nation leader Pauline Hanson and radio host Steve Price. In the discussion, Hanson slammed the planned closure of Uluru, likening it to shutting down Sydney’s Bondi Beach.

The panel discussion has been slammed on social media, with Australians criticising the program for not including Indigenous figures in the conversation.

“Let’s talk Uluru climbing with … Pauline Hanson and Steve Price. Couldn’t they find anyone whiter?” one wrote.

“Trust [the Today show] to have One Nation senator Pauline Hanson on this morning to give her utterly irrelevant take on Uluru, which only comes from a place of racism, fear and ignorance. Do your producers have anybody else’s number?” another commented.

On Tuesday morning, Knight noted the “heated debate” around the issue on the breakfast show. “We have been inundated with comments in response to Pauline Hanson on the show yesterday,” said Knight.

The show invited Northern Territory senator Malarndirri McCarthy, a Yanyuwa woman from Borroloola, to give her input this morning.

McCarthy said Hanson’s claim on the show that the climbing ban would affect tourism and local jobs is “incorrect”.

She said, “What has occurred is that there is employment at the rock and there will continue to be employment. This has been a very methodical planned process for quite a number of years.

“I think it is really unfortunate 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. That’s why it is really critical that Senator Hanson thinks very seriously about taking up the offer. I am prepared to facilitate that.”

McCarthy explained that the site is a sacred place to the local Indigenous group. “In terms of the song lines for the Anangu people, it is a sacred place, a spiritual place … I remember taking Oprah Winfrey there in 2010 as Tourism Minister, [and] she understood completely the importance of the spirituality of the place.”

The Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is set to shut down the climb permanently on October 26 this year on the 34th anniversary of the day Uluru was given back to the traditional owners.