'Incredibly disrespectful to the Traditional Owners'
CHIEF Minister Michael Gunner has slammed One Nation leader Pauline Hanson - calling her journey to Uluru and plans to climb the sacred site is a "cheap stunt".
"I think it's unfortunate to someone performing a cheap stunt in the NT that is incredibly disrespectful to the Traditional Owners," Mr Gunner said.
"We know this debate often happens through a tourism lens unfortunately rather than a cultural lens but we know people are arguing this will be bad Uluru and bad for tourism.
"We know the enduring value of Uluru is its cultural value."
"The fact this has been a sacred spot for 60,000 years is what's going to see the value of the Rock sustain and survive tourism in the NT.
"I also think simply we should be respectful of Traditional Owners.
"It's disappointing to see a southern politician come up and do some cheap politics in the NT and be disrespectful of the local Traditional Owners."
In a post on her official Facebook page Wednesday, Ms Hanson wrote: "The Anangu Mayatja Council of Elders have invited me to the Rock for discussions about their future following my calls for the climb to remain open
"I arrived yesterday afternoon and held talks with the two sons of Paddy Uluru who was the traditional owner and other family members.
"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."
Ms Hanson said taxpayers had not paid for her flights.
She also said the traditional owners she met with didn't speak much English and had to rely on a translator.
"They're all very honourable people from my experience these last few days," she said.
"I agree there are safety issues with the climb and I think there needs to be a serious rethink of how safety can be implemented if they were to keep it open."
The Uluru climb will close for good on October 26 this year.
In July, Ms Hanson criticised the upcoming closure on Today and said it was "no different to coming out and saying, 'We're going to close down Bondi Beach because there are some people that have drowned'. How ridiculous is that?"
The One Nation leader said nothing needed to change because "we've been climbing the Ayers Rock, or Uluru, for many years".
"The Australian taxpayers put in millions, hundreds of millions of dollars into it and they're wanting another $27.5 million to upgrade the airport there for the resort," she said.
"Now the resort has only returned $19 million to the taxpayers only just recently. It employs over 400 people there, 38 per cent are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
"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."
In November 2017, the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Board started the countdown of when the climb would be closed permanently.
The date of October 26, 2019 was put forward - a significant day for the Anangu indigenous community because it was that day in 1985 that the government returned ownership of the land to the traditional owners.
But since setting the date, the number of people climbing Uluru has skyrocketed.
Before park management announced it was closing the climb, around 140 people were climbing Uluru each day.
Since then, the number has doubled and at times tripled to 300-500 daily visitors.
Ms Hanson said she was struggling to understand the "cultural sensitivity" around Uluru.
"It is an iconic site for all Australians," she said.
"I can't see the cultural sensitivity when people have been climbing the rock for 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, and how are they going to pay back the Australian taxpayer?"