SA Environment Minister Jay Weatherill inexplicably addressed parliament Tuesday on the issue of extraterrestrials in the Simpson Desert. The South Australian Department of Environment and Heritage has decided to ban vehicles from crossing the Simpson Desert between December 1st and March, fining anyone found to be embarking on such an expedition $1,000. Minister Weatherill was keen to point out to parliament that the closure was not due to aliens.

MP Weatherill told Question Time:

This is Parliament, and it is important that I do not mislead the House. They (aliens) have not been detected, at least by officers of the Department of Environment and Heritage. When we made the decision to close the park, we did not even suspect that there were aliens in the park … of course, I cannot entirely rule out the existence of aliens in the park.

The Adelaide Advertiser reported Weatherill’s claims, claiming that “…online forums are running hot with conspiracy theories of a Government cover-up.” However, the paper only referred to one example of the alien hysteria — motorbike forum Adventure Rider. And the conversation is hardly X-Files focused — let alone “hot”.

Crikey sought out the forums that caused the minister to raise the issue of extraterrestrials in parliament. We found two other sites. One was about coral in the desert and the other was about alien flora — not the flying saucer kind.

Crikey wondered if perhaps the aliens in question were in fact lost British backpackers. The Guardian describes crossing the Simpson Desert as a “rite of passage” for pale skinned travelers from the mother country. However DEA Director Trevor Naismith told Crikey they don’t see “huge numbers” of British tourists:

We see a lot from Europe, escaping the cooler months in the northern hemisphere. They’re usually ill prepared. They arrive, hire a four wheel drive, lacking experience in driving four wheel drives, poorly equipped, no safety equipment and with no idea. They have no understanding of the vast distances involved here.

Naismith assured Crikey that closing the Simpson desert was not an attempt to conceal the presence of aliens, but rather to curb the number of “near misses” in the outback as a duty of care.

Crikey contacted Minister Weatherill’s office to ask why the Minister was prompted to address the issue of aliens in the desert, but they didn’t get back to us by deadline.

Peter Fray

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