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The Uluru cartoon the government didn’t want you to see… before its legal team backed down and abandoned their threat

  • Herald Sun artist Mark Knight drew a cartoon depicting Uluru above Parliament 
  • Mr Knight created the cartoon to support an Indigenous Voice to Parliament 
  • Parks Australia sent a legal letter demanding the paper take the image down
  • The organisation said the publication did not have a permit to depict Uluru

A political cartoon in support of the Indigenous Voice to Parliament was bizarrely ordered by the federal government to be taken down for its depiction of Uluru.

Herald Sun cartoonist Mark Knight drew a cartoon for the paper that showed Uluru hovering over Canberra’s Parliament House as politicians fled in different directions. 

Nationals Party Leader David Littleproud was drawn at the forefront of the image with a speech bubble sarcastically saying, ‘We’re under attack!’ 

Mr Littleproud and Country Liberals Senator Jacinta Price held a press conference on Monday to declare it would not support the Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

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But just as the Melbourne publication published the cartoon, it was promptly hit with a legal letter from Parks Australia.

The organisation, which is managed by the federal government and manages Australia’s national parks, last Thursday ordered the paper to remove the cartoon for not having a permit to depict Uluru and for breaching media laws.

‘These artworks do not have media permits and breach media guidelines,’ the letter, read.

‘To comply with the EPBC Act, media guidelines, ICIP (Indigenous Cultural Intellectual Property) laws and show respect for Anangu land and culture, we ask that you remove any artwork breaching these conditions and showing Uluru.’

Mr Knight was shocked by the legal notice as he had drawn the sacred site before and had no idea he needed a permit. 

‘I’ve drawn Uluru for all my career as a cartoonist and I’ve never heard of this before. I didn’t know that, probably the greatest landmark of Australia, was copyrighted,’ he said. 

Nationals leader David Littleproud and Country Liberal Party senator Jacinta Price declaring they would not support the Indigenous Voice to Parliament

Nationals leader David Littleproud and Country Liberal Party senator Jacinta Price declaring they would not support the Indigenous Voice to Parliament

The political cartoonist was even more dumbfounded by the fact he had created the image to back the proposal of an Indigenous Voice to Parliament in the first place. 

‘It made me feel like I had done something wrong. I thought it was a very nice image and low and behold, ironically, I was asked to take it down,’ Mr Knight said.

‘The cartoon was sympathetic for the Voice to Parliament, and the reason I used Uluru is because the Voice to Parliament came from the Uluru Statement from the Heart.’ 

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The Herald Sun spoke with legal counsel and decided not to take the cartoon down.

Herald Sun cartoonist Mark Knight (pictured) was shocked when his drawing of Uluru above Parliament House resulted in the paper receiving a legal letter

Herald Sun cartoonist Mark Knight (pictured) was shocked when his drawing of Uluru above Parliament House resulted in the paper receiving a legal letter

Parks Australia, which is part of the government's environment portfolio, claimed the cartoon did not have the permit to depict Uluru (pictured)

Parks Australia, which is part of the government’s environment portfolio, claimed the cartoon did not have the permit to depict Uluru (pictured)

Parks Australia responded by referring the paper to a set of media guidelines that explained all organisations, businesses and artists needed a permit to use or depict Uluru for commercial purposes. 

This rule is listed on the organisation’s website and may be waived by a manager if it’s considered to be ‘news of the day’.

Parks Australia enforces this to ‘protect Anangu against inappropriate use and benefits to others from the commercialisation of their Indigenous Cultural Intellectual Property’. 

However, the organisation changed its position on the matter on Saturday, issuing an apology to Mr Knight. 

Daily Mail Australia has reached out to Parks Australia for comment.   

Senator Price on Monday slammed the Indigenous Voice to Parliament proposal.

‘We have to stop dividing this nation on the lines of race. We will not be supporting a failed model,’ she said.

‘It’s not racist to disagree with a proposal… that lacks detail and divides us on the lines of race.

‘Yes, there is goodwill, there is immense goodwill from Indigenous Australians in this country… what we need now is practical measures, not an idea that lacks complete and utter detail and based on emotional blackmail.’ 

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