Jamie Walker & Nic White; 10/7/09; (3 Items)
Environment Minister Peter Garrett has come a long way from when he was fronting rockers Midnight Oil. The group’s 1986 hit Dead Heart was set to a video clip featuring footage of people scaling the mighty ramparts of Uluru. But not Mr Garrett. As he revealed yesterday, lending his weight to a renewed push to ban climbers from the desert monolith, he had taken a personal decision to keep off the rock in honour of its traditional owners. In his current gig with Kevin Rudd’s band, Mr Garrett will have the final say on whether climbing Uluru should be banned, as recommended by a draft management plan for it; or retained, for the benefit of the 100,000-odd visitors who haul themselves to the top each year to savour one of the world’s defining tourism experiences. Mr Garrett insisted he had never made the climb, even though he had had numerous opportunities to do so.
See: http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25759050-5013404,00.html; Keep out: no tourists; Paul Toohey; 10/7/09; http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25757089-28737,00.html
No decision yet on Uluru
10/7/09; See: http://blogs.theaustralian.news.com.au/letters/index.php/ theaustralian/comments/no_decision_yet_on_uluru/
Contrary to your headline (“Garrett to ground Uluru climbers”, 9/7), neither I nor anyone in the Rudd government has made a decision to close the Uluru climb. As your story identifies, the Uluru Board of Management this week released a draft management plan for the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park for the coming decade. It addresses a range of issues in the management of the park, one of those being the Uluru climb and whether it should be closed for visitor safety, cultural and environmental reasons. Public feedback on the entire draft plan, including the climb, will now take place over the next two months. I encourage anyone who wishes to have their voice heard to be part of that process. Peter Garrett; Federal Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts
– Does opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt not know there is already an explanatory sign at Uluru asking people not to climb? This is an Aboriginal sacred path of spiritual significance taken by only a few Aboriginal men. Would Hunt enter a temple in Asia with his shoes on if asked to remove them? Respecting culture is a universal requirement for peace and goodwill. Victoria O’Connor; Lennox Head, NSW
Our greatest rock is worth the climb
Bureaucrats need a broader view of Uluru’s place in the world. Non-Indigenous Australians, as well as people who come from across the world to visit Uluru, the Olgas and Kakadu, would love to encounter and appreciate Aboriginal culture more closely. Dating back at least 60,000 years, it is one of the oldest living cultures in the world. Of those who venture to Uluru, 38 per cent – or about 100,000 people a year – climb the monolith. Most find the challenge an intrinsic part of their experience of Australia’s centre. Children are especially keen to climb the rock, impressed by its vastness; for them, the experience helps build an affinity with our first people. In planning to shut out climbers “for visitor safety, cultural and environmental reasons”, pen-pushers in faraway, chilly Canberra are indulging in empty symbolism with a politically correct gesture that will serve only to marginalise the indigenous people it claims to protect. Their draft plan should be quashed and the local people encouraged to better manage the area so they can enjoy greater benefits from living on the doorstep of a world heritage area.
Repatriation of indigenous remains to be made easier
The repatriation of indigenous people’s remains to traditional owners will be made smoother from today, and allow Aboriginal spirits to come home. Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin will use the end of NAIDOC Week to announce an overhaul of the process of returning Aboriginal artefacts and remains to Australia. A new International Repatriation Advisory Committee will be appointed in September to help collectors right the wrongs of the past, she said.