Politics

Pauline Hanson And ‘A Current Affair’ Are Getting Dunked On For That Awful Uluru Climb Segment

"It's just unusual I guess for people to see you coming up here and being the champion for the Aboriginal people."

A current affair Pauline Hanson to climb Uluru

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Last night, A Current Affair aired a very neutral and totally rigorous piece of journalism about Pauline Hanson’s quest to climb Uluru because she feels like it.

Just kidding. Pauline Hanson’s quest to climb Uluru did appear on A Current Affair last night. But the segment, even by A Current Affair’s standards, was anything but neutral. The whole thing played like a baffling ad for Pauline Hanson’s god-given right to do what she wants. A Current Affair even paid for some of Hanson’s travel costs.

Naturally, people are now dunking on both Hanson and A Current Affair for airing the segment — which managed to push disrespect for Indigenous people to new levels. While Hanson claimed repeatedly, that her purpose in visiting Uluru was to listen to the Anangu traditional owners of the area not a lot of listening actually took place.

Instead we saw Hanson telling a group of Indigenous teenagers that she is in fact Indigenous (“I’m Indigenous. I was born here, I’m native to the land…do you know the word Indigenous?”), telling those Indigenous teens that they don’t get an opinion on Uluru because they’re not actually from the area (true, but same goes for Pauline?), and otherwise ignoring everything those Indigenous teens said.

A Current Affair for its part; referred to Hanson as a “rock rebel”, polled its viewers on whether the Uluru climb should remain open, got the name of Anangu elder Tjimpuna Ruby wrong, and heavily edited the segment to include minimal input from the traditional owners Hanson supposedly came to speak to.

On A Current Affair, Tjimpuna Ruby is pictured speaking about the need for jobs for local Anangu people at Uluru. Reporter Martin King then cuts in and says that “closing the Uluru climb, she claims, will make it worse”. On Facebook Tjimpuna Ruby wrote that A Current Affair’s story was “a misrepresentation of the truth” in saying that she wants the Uluru climb to be closed, adding that the show got her name wrong. In another part of the segment, Pauline Hanson is shown shaking hands with several Anangu elders, before King cuts in to announce that the elders have given her permission to climb Uluru.

King also asks Hanson a series of extremely softball questions, letting her run wild and paint herself as some kind of champion of the local Indigenous community.

“You are portrayed and have been portrayed as a racist,” he says at one point.

“Which is a load of rubbish,” Hanson responds. This goes unchallenged.

“It’s just unusual I guess for people to see you coming up here and being the champion for the Aboriginal people,” King then says, before Hanson lists all the times she’s travelled around Australia to speak to Indigenous people. Later several people recognise Pauline as she sits, stuck, partway up the Uluru climb. A Current Affair describes this moment as Hanson being “mobbed by fans”.

The first time Hanson was asked a difficult question about Uluru was this morning on The Today Show where 3AW’s Neil Mitchell — a fellow guest on the program — ripped into her, asking whether she actually spoke to the elders who called for the climb to be closed.

“Did you talk to the board of management about it, Pauline?” Mitchell asked. “They’re the ones who want to close it.”

“There was one fella who was on the board of management,” Hanson said.

When Mitchell challenged her again, things started to unravel. “You don’t know, you haven’t been out there and spoken to the traditional owners,” Hanson said. “You’re not listening to me, Neil.” A little rich, coming from her.

“It was a stunt, you didn’t really learn anything, and I still don’t know where you stand on it,” is how Mitchell summed things up. The answer is that Hanson does not stand anywhere on Uluru at all — she sits. Because after disrespecting the wishes of the Anangu elders and climbing Uluru anyway, Pauline discovered that she was actually too scared of falling and sat down instead.

It’s a real pity that A Current Affair had to go and film her doing so. We didn’t need Pauline Hanson’s voice at all in this discussion.