The first Indigenous person to join a commercial breakfast TV show has shared her own views after One Nation leader Pauline Hanson said that closing Uluru to climbers was "ridiculous".
Uluru is considered sacred by the Traditional Owners, the Anangu people, and the ban was announced by the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Board in 2017.
On Monday morning Today host Deb Knight hosted a two-person panel featuring Ms Hanson and shock jock Steve Price - who both disagreed with the ban.
Like 'closing Bondi Beach'
The ban will take effect in October which the far-right senator said was comparable to shutting down Sydney's most famous beach.
"The fact is, it's money-making. It's giving jobs to the Indigenous community, you've got over 4-500,000 tourists a year that want to go there and climb the rock," Ms Hanson told the program.
"It's no different to saying we're going to close down Bondi Beach because there are some people there that have drowned. How ridiculous is that! This is an iconic site for all Australians."
Ms Hanson’s comments sparked a backlash on social media with many criticising the discussion as unbalanced.
Hours later Today Extra revisited the topic.
Ms Boney hosted a different two-person panel featuring 'lifestyle presenter' Shelly Horton and former news anchor John Mangos who both support the ban.
“This is about Indigenous people having some sort of say over what happens on their land and their sacred sites,” Ms Boney said.
“The thing about the rock is that it’s so sacred to them that every time someone gets injured or hurt or has to be airlifted out it hurts them and they say that their ancestors mourn the loss of those people. So they’re not doing it to be nasty or be protective of themselves, they’re doing it to protect others.”
Co-host David Campbell pointed out that they did not “hate the economy” and that tourists would continue to be able to visit the Australian icon.
“I think pipe down, Pauline,” Ms Horton said. “I’m a bit sick or her ill-informed comments.”
“This is a natural phenomena which has a mystic allure,” Mr Mangos said. “I’ve been there, you can’t take your eyes off it.”
A 'new concept' for many people
Ms Boney joined the Nine Network’s Today show as an entertainment reporter in January.
The Gamilaroi woman quickly made headlines for her on-air explanation about why she believes Australia Day should be not be celebrated on January 26. She recently told SBS program Insight that she had did not expect such a “big and severe” public backlash.
“I knew there’s a big part of our country who haven’t heard different perspectives on big questions of our national identity before … that was a big part of the reason I wanted to go work at Channel 9,” Ms Boney said.
“But I didn’t understand how new the concept would be to so many people. I’d been working at Triple J, ABC, NITV, SBS — those sorts of views aren’t uncommon.”
“There were people saying really awful things about me, about my family — it’s really hard when people say threats. I was going to say I don’t care when people say mean things about me, but I do. Please don’t say mean things about me.”
“But it hurts more when people say awful things about your brothers and sisters or your mum. But then you get all this support from people who love and care about you — and also from strangers. It’s the most amazing thing — you realise you’ve said something that’s hit a nerve.”