One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has travelled to Uluru after controversially calling for indigenous leaders to overturn their pending ban on climbing the rock.
Senator Hanson said she would attempt to climb Uluru on Wednesday, weather permitting, although strong winds in the area are an issue.
About 3pm (AEST) on Wednesday, she tweeted that she had been given permission by two traditional owners – Reggie and Cassidy Uluru of the Anangu Mayatja Council of Elders – to make the climb.
I have been given permission by Anangu Mayatja Council of Elders, Mr Reggie Uluru and Mr Cassidy Uluru to climb the Rock.
Both are senior traditional owners of Uluru. -PH pic.twitter.com/nqWoIyG6vz
— Pauline Hanson 🇦🇺 (@PaulineHansonOz) August 21, 2019
Senator Hanson said the Anangu Mayatja Council had invited her to the area to discuss their future after her criticism of the decision to ban climbing from later this year.
“I arrived yesterday afternoon and held talks with the two sons of Paddy Uluru, who was the traditional owner and other family members,” Senator Hanson said on her Facebook page.
“Today I will meet with around 15 of their Anangu Mayatja Council of Elders and attempt to climb the rock if the wind has dropped off.
“I’ll keep you posted.”
In 2017, the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Board voted unanimously to close the climb in a decision widely welcomed by indigenous leaders who said it recognised the cultural significance of the site and would “right an historic wrong”.
The last day to climb has been set for October 26.
“This decision has been a very long time coming and our thoughts are with the elders who have longed for this day but are no longer with us to celebrate it,” Central Land Council director David Ross said at the time.
As the deadline draws closer, however, the area has been overwhelmed with tourists flocking to make the climb. There have been complaints of tourists trespassing, camping illegally and dumping rubbish in an “influx of waste”.
TOUCH DOWN AT ULURU
— Pauline Hanson 🇦🇺 (@PaulineHansonOz) August 20, 2019
In recent comments, Senator Hanson likened the looming ban to closing Bondi Beach.
“The fact is, it’s money-making. It’s giving jobs to indigenous communities, and you’ve got thousands of tourists who go there every year and want to climb the rock,” she said.
About 300,000 people visit the area each year but the number who opt to climb Uluru has been steadily falling.
Figures from Parks Australia indicated only 16 per cent of visitors to the park made the climb between 2011 and 2015, down from about 74 per cent in the 1990s.
Though there has been a spike in recent months, most likely because of the impending ban.
Senator Hanson’s vow to climb Uluru was met with considerable criticism on social media though comments to her Facebook page also indicated a level of support.