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Indigenous senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price has slammed a controversial proposal to ban visitors at Australia’s biggest lake to protect its cultural significance.

Thousands of tourists flock to Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre in South Australia‘s far north every few years when the outback destination transforms into a spectacular kaleidoscope of colours after flooding rains move down from Queensland.

It’s also a sacred site for the Arabana people, who have lived in the region for millennia and are the lake’s native title holders.

Under a proposed management plan, all recreational access to the lake bed will be banned out of respect for Arabana culture.

Swimming, driving, boating and landing aircraft on the lake are already banned, but the new plan would prevent visitors setting foot on its bed without permission. 

Senator Nampijinpa Price joined the growing group of critics slamming the move claiming that Indigenous culture had become the ‘new religion’ and that Australia was quickly ‘locking up’ tourist hotspots around the country.

Jacinta Nampijinpa Price slams move to ban tourists from Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre after traditional owners’ request – as she makes bombshell statement about Indigenous culture

Tourists could soon be banned from setting foot on Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre in South Australia’s far north

The shadow minister for Indigenous Affairs is concerned that another of Australia’s natural wonders may soon be off limits.

She believes Australia is shooting itself in the foot by barring visitors from scenic attractions. 

‘It is concerning and from my understanding it was originally raised as a safety concern because during the dry times, the salt is quite sharp,’ Senator Nampijinpa Price told 2GB’s Ben Fordham on Wednesday.

‘I would have thought that you’d be able to provide warnings to those visiting.

‘There’s this trend going on around our country, where we’re locking the place up from visitors being able to see our own backyard. 

‘I think we need to get to the point to understand that well we all belong here as Australians, we all belong to this country, we all have a significant connection to this country, especially if we’re born here, regardless of racial heritage.

‘We’re shooting ourselves in the foot if we continue down this path where we’re going to limit access for the potential for tourism, growth and all other things. 

‘I think Australians should be able to appreciate our own country without this continuing trend taking place.’

The lake proposal has sparked a divided reaction among Indigenous Aussies, including Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price

The lake proposal has sparked a divided reaction among Indigenous Aussies, including Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price

The senator also referenced the tourist ban at Mount Warning (known as Wollumbin by Indigenous people) near Murwillumbah in northern NSW.

The iconic tourist spot once welcomed more than 120,000 visitors every year, but it has been off limits since 2020 despite an argument between Indigenous elders about its cultural significance. 

In the Northern Territory, tourists have been banned from climbing Uluru, formerly known as Ayers Rock since October 2019.

Senator Nampijinpa Price believes Australia’s natural wonders shouldn’t be taken from away from Australian and international visitors because they don’t have Indigenous heritage.

‘It opens the opportunity to for those who take advantage of the situation to create their own stories, control the narrative and control access to these places,’ Senator Nampijinpa Price continued.

‘I don’t understand to what end really why this has to take place.

Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre could be the next Australian natural wonder to be off limits to tourists

Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre could be the next Australian natural wonder to be off limits to tourists

‘It’s almost become a new religion and everyone has to respect it.

‘We’ve all got different cultural backgrounds as Australians and yes, we should respect it in our own way.

‘But I was brought up that it was about sharing. It’s about sharing understanding and knowledge and having something to be proud of.’

Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre is one of a number of culturally significant sites in SA to enforce strict rules around entry to visitors, including Koonalda Caves in the Nullarbor, Sacred Canyon in Ikara-Flinders Ranges, and Ngaut Ngaut Conservation Park.

The public can have their say on the proposed management plan until July 19 on the SA Department for Environment and Water website.

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