Politics

Malarndirri McCarthy Just Shut Down Pauline Hanson’s Uluru Comments With Incredible Patience

Take note: When talking about Uluru, it helps to talk to Indigenous Australians.

malarndirri mccarthy today show uluru

Yesterday, The Today Show was quite rightly slammed for inviting Pauline Hanson and Steve Price to form an all-white panel discussing the upcoming closure of the Uluru climb. This morning, Today finally invited Indigenous senator Malarndirri McCarthy to share a more informed perspective on the issue, and she smashed it out of the park.

Of course, inviting an Indigenous person with knowledge about the issue at hand to speak on the program is the very least Today should have done. It would have been nice to have heard from McCarthy yesterday, instead of Hanson and Price, who openly admitted “I just don’t get it, I really don’t get it” live on air.

Still, even speaking a day later, McCarthy managed to perfectly shut Pauline Hanson down, demonstrating an extraordinary amount of empathy and patience in the process. Somehow, McCarthy managed to grant Hanson the benefit of the doubt, assuming that she really and truly doesn’t get what’s going on. She then invited Hanson to visit Uluru, offering to personally explain the situation.

“She couldn’t see the importance of it,” McCarthy told Today. “It is clearly important that she comes to Uluru and has an opportunity to see for herself the work that has been going up here — it hasn’t just happened overnight.”

She went on to explain that the decision to close the Uluru climb has been in the works for close to a decade, and has been designed to have a minimal impact on tourism and Indigenous jobs (the decision to close the climb was only made once the number of visitors actually climbing Uluru dropped below 20 percent).

McCarthy also explained the reason for closing the climb in the first place: Uluru is sacred, and it can be appreciated in more respectful ways.

“It is a sacred place, Deb,” she said. “In terms of the song lines for the Anangu people, it is a sacred place, a spiritual place. For those people who have visited, they would know that. For those who haven’t, please still come.”

“When you go there it is an enormous rock in the middle of nowhere that fills the heart. I remember taking Oprah Winfrey there in 2010 as Tourism Minister, and she understood completely the importance of the spirituality of the place.”

“We actually flew around the rock. There are many other initiatives that people can take. There’s camel rides, there’s balloon rides, there’s walks and runs and cycles and opportunities for breakfast after the sunrise with the traditional owners, for three hours. There are so many other things that take place at the rock, and I just urge Senator Hanson, come and actually see that.”

It’s not the first time that McCarthy has delivered the perfect antidote to Pauline Hanson’s nonsense. The two senators gave their maiden speeches to Parliament on the same day in 2016, and while Hanson’s was filled with her usual spray of divisive rhetoric, McCarthy set an example with her moving, inclusive speech.

Her appearance on Today this morning set a similar example, extending Hanson more respect and generosity than she deserves. “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,” she concluded. “That is why it is really critical that Senator Hanson thinks very seriously about taking up the offer. I am prepared to facilitate that.”

We seriously hope that Hanson — and shows like Today, for that matter — take that message to heart. You can watch the full video below.