Explosive expenses claims lodged with the Senate reveal Pauline Hanson’s trip to Uluru, where she was filmed controversially climbing the rock before its closure, was bankrolled by Channel Nine.
The One Nation leader declared travel and hospitality to the registry stating that Nine Entertainment paid for two return flights and two nights accommodation for the trip to the iconic spot.
Aired by A Current Affair in August last year in a segment called ‘Rebel Rock’, Ms Hanson was heavily criticised for climbing the sacred Indigenous landmark just weeks before it was closed for good.
And in Nine’s broadcast host Tracey Grimshaw even specifically addressed concerns raised about the decision to run the segment — after many labelled it a “stunt” and an “insult”.
“Now to clarify some questions raised about this story,” she said.
“We did not pay Senator Hanson and the visit was not our idea … She asked if we wanted to cover the story and we did.”
Ms Hanson was filmed turning back after a short distance and later delcared she “sees the sense” in banning the climb — but pointed to safety reasons as her concern.
At the time A Current Affair defended the decision to film the climb stating that “It is our view that by filming it for our audience, all Australians can gain an insight into this important and significant debate.”
“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 Hanson.
“As viewers will have seen on tonight’s show, Hanson gained new insights and appreciation for Uluru through the filming of the story.”
Weeks later, as anticipated, the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Board of Management formally closed the climb with penalties issued for anyone doing so under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act.
The revelations about her expenses, first reported by Anthony Klan at The Klaxon, comes just a few months after a public spat between Channel Nine and Ms Hanson hit headlines.
Amid the height of the coronavirus pandemic Ms Hanson found herself in hot water after she told Nine’s Today show that Melburnians in public housing lockdown were “drug addicts” who “cannot speak English”.
She was subsequently dropped by the programme having been regular contributor on the show for the best part of a year.
In a statement, Nine described her comments as “ill-informed and divisive”, and said “she will no longer be appearing on our program as a regular contributor”.