Pauline Hanson has declared that Channel Nine paid for her to fly to Uluru to film a controversial A Current Affair special in which she scaled Uluru before the activity was banned.
Climbing Uluru was banned from October 2019 by the Uluru-Kata Tjuta national park out of respect to traditional owners, the Anangu Aboriginal people, who consider it a sacred site.
Hanson campaigned vigorously against the ban, culminating in an A Current Affair episode in August 2019 titled Rock Rebel, in which the One Nation leader was filmed climbing Uluru.
In an update to her senator’s register of interests that month, Hanson declared she had received “Flights x 2 and 2 nights accommodation x 2 provided by Nine Entertainment Co Pty Ltd for visit to Uluru from 19-22 August”.
The Klaxon, which first reported the disclosure, said Hanson’s chief of staff James Ashby had confirmed he accompanied her on the trip.
A Current Affair host Tracy Grimshaw said the program “did not pay senator Hanson, and the visit was not our idea”.
At the time, Channel Nine defended the episode on the basis it wanted to give Australians “insight into this important and significant debate”.
In a statement, it said Hanson had “expressed a desire to attempt to climb Uluru” and “invited A Current Affair, along with local landowners on that journey”.
“The ACA team followed due diligence to ensure all permits were granted and the climb was approved, and engaged local elders who agreed to meet with Ms Hanson.
“As viewers will have seen on [the] show, Ms Hanson gained new insights and appreciation for Uluru through the filming of the story.”
Parks Australia said that although Hanson had met senior members of the Anangu community she did not meet with its board of management.
Hanson has a long history of controversial interventions in race politics, from her warning in 1996 that Australia is “in danger of being swamped by Asians” to her call for a ban on immigration when she entered the Senate in 2016.
A regular on breakfast television, Hanson dropped her regular gig on Channel Seven’s Sunrise after being challenged on-air by David Koch back in March over her comments on Muslim immigration. Seven had sustained criticism for giving a platform to the One Nation leader’s racist views.
In July Channel Nine’s Today show dropped Hanson as a “regular contributor”, after she described residents of public housing in Melbourne who are locked down due to Covid-19 as “drug addicts” who “cannot speak English”.
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