Queensland girl labelled 'brat' for refusing to stand for national anthem

A nine-year-old schoolgirl in Australia refused to stand for the national anthem to protest alleged institutional racism. File

"When it was originally written, Advance Australia Fair meant advance the white people of Australia", she told national broadcaster ABC.

While I agree that Harper's anthem boycott may have been largely in part due to conversations with her parents and a result of her upbringing, the truth of the matter is that Harper's courage should be admired.

Pauline Hanson, who made a name for herself espousing extreme anti-immigration and anti-refugee views, was slammed on Twitter over her comments on Harper's protest.

"Her parents should be congratulated for raising a brilliant, thinking young student who won't be forced to do something that is against her deeply held beliefs", he said.

"The school has been respectful of the student's wishes and has provided other alternatives including remaining outside the hall or not singing during the national anthem", a spokesperson said in a statement.

He threw his full support behind the Kenmore South State School, who demanded Harper stand or leave the building.

Her protest also drew comparisons with the U.S. sportsman Colin Kaepernick, who knelt during the national anthem to highlight social and racial injustice in the United States.

"She's just asking for her opinion to be heard and for her feelings to be acknowledged, and for her to have an opportunity to take a stand on something she believes very strongly about".

She also said that "it was time to raise awareness".

"When it says "we are young" it completely disregards the Indigenous Australians who were here before us for over 50,000 years", she said.

Her parents insisted they had no influence over their daughter's actions, however a number of politicians weren't convinced.

"Shame on her parents for using her as a political pawn".

Controversial right-wing senator Pauline Hanson said Australian schools were "brainwashing" children and called for Nielsen to be "taken out" of her school in a video statement posted on social media.

Harper has the support of her "proud" dad Mark.

"I'm angry about this".

Queensland Liberal National politician Jarrod Bleijie, the state's shadow minister for Education, shared similar thoughts.

Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the girl should "follow the rules" and that, "it's just a sign of good manners and courtesy to stand for the national anthem".

"Rosa Parks refused to go to the back of the bus and Martin Luther King said "when that woman sat down I stood up", he said.

"Stop the silly protest and stand and sing proudly..."

Harper Nielsen refused to stand out of recognition of the nation's aboriginal population, she said.

The department denied earlier reports that Harper faced suspension or expulsion for her protest.

"We used to have special schools for children with behaviour problems", Mr Latham said on the 4BC radio show.

Harper's father Mark Nielsen said they had met with the school's principal but they remained at loggerheads.

Though schools were expected to sing it, it was never compulsory, and even the federal government's own protocols do not say it is mandatory to stand for the anthem.



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