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Mutitjulu community has support for call to close Uluru if flights are not cancelled  

[by Elke Wiesmann]

Image: supplied

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The community of Mutitjulu, inside the Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park, has called for the closure of Connellan Airport near the park and the suspension of flights because the plan to resume flights from Victoria and New South Wales from 1 August poses an unacceptable health risk to the community’s residents.

 

The Mutitjulu Community Aboriginal Corporation has made the request in letters to NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner and the park’s board of management, and informed the federal Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt.

 

“We have asked the board to close the park if the government does not close the airport and cancel all flights until further notice,” said MCAC chair Gloria Moneymoon (pictured above).

 

“We are encouraged that the board supports our request.

 

“Those people who want to fly here should just not come because we don’t want that pika (sickness) here,” Ms Moneymoon said.

 

“The government should close the airport and the tourists should go somewhere else. It’s still too dangerous for us to accept visitors from high-risk places.”

 

MCAC is concerned that tourists from COVID-19 hotspots or their contacts will spread the virus to vulnerable residents of the park.

 

Mutitjulu residents use the nearby tourist resort at Yulara near the local airport for shopping.

 

There are no quarantine facilities at Yulara, and asymptomatic visitors who should be quarantining in Alice Springs are likely to come in contact with community members.

 

Already, visitors of the park have ignored self-quarantine rules, further reinforcing the need for travellers to undertake mandatory supervised quarantine before arriving in Yulara.

 

MCAC director Craig Woods said flights to Yulara defeat the purpose of keeping people from hotspots contained.

 

“People’s lives are more important than money,” Mr Woods said.

 

“Indigenous people suffer more from chronic disease than other citizens. This virus is not good for our people. Please postpone your holiday, stay home and keep the Mutitjulu community safe,” he said.