Should it be illegal for tourists to climb Uluru in Australia?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Uluru, located  in the Uluru-Kata Tjutu National Park of Australia, was given back to the Anangu people by the government of Australia, and the Anangu people leased it to Australia for 99 years, allowing tourists to visit the park and rock. Climbing Uluru, as well as preventing tourists from climbing Uluru, poses multiple ethical and cultural problems.
 
First, the climb has "great spiritual significance" to the Anangu because they celebrate the Mala "hare wallaby" people as creation beings who walked the sacred climb since creation (McClintock, "Climbing the Rock," ABC News). For this reason, tourists are dissuaded from making the sacred climb.

Secondly, 30 people have died climbing Uluru in the past few decades. These deaths are particularly disturbing to the Anangu who believe people should "take responsibility for their [own] actions" (McClintock). Since Uluru is the responsibility of the Anangu, they feel responsible for these deaths, which is very distressing for them.

However, making Uluru completely illegal to climb poses cultural problems. Since the Anangu believe people should be responsible for their own actions, they believe people should choose for themselves what is right or wrong. Therefore, hanging a sign on Uluru saying it's wrong, or illegal, to climb the rock contradicts the culture of the Anangu.

According to some views, such as Thomas Jefferson's Utilitarian view, it is ethical to create laws to protect both safety and happiness. While it would be ethical to create a law to protect the safety of tourists, it would be unethical to create such a law if doing so infringes on the culture and, therefore the happiness, of the people most affected by the law, the Anangu.

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