The girl, Harper Nielsen, told CNN affiliate Nine News that she sat during her country’s national anthem because she believed it was disrespectful to Indigenous Australians. The anthem, titled “Advance Australia Fair”, contains the line “Australians all let us rejoice, for we are young and free”.
She believes the anthem is disrespectful to Indigenous Australians
Harper, who lives in the state of Queensland, added that, “(But) when it says Advance Australia Fair, it means advance the white people.¬†And when it says ‘we are young’, it completely disregards the indigenous Australians who were here before us for 50,000 years.”
9 YEAR OLD REFUSES TO STAND FOR NATIONAL ANTHEM
"Good on the school for trying to instill the respect for our National anthem and pride in our country." @PaulineHansonOz
— Pauline Hanson ūüá¶ūüáļ (@PaulineHansonOz) September 12, 2018
Australia’s indigenous population represents about 2% of the total population. The population¬†has a lower life expectancy and twice the infant mortality rate than the rest of the country. Senator Pauline Hanson said Australian schools were brainwashing children and called for Harper’s suspension¬†in a video statement posted on social media.
Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Sydney-based radio station 2GB that the girl should follow the rules. “It’s just a sign of good manners and courtesy to stand for the national anthem,” the former leader said.¬†
— Ben Fordham Live (@BenFordhamLive) September 12, 2018
Queensland politician Jarrod Bleijie, the state’s shadow minister for Education, called Harper a “brat”. He also called out her parents for¬†using her as a political pawn.¬†He wrote that Harper should be suspended if she continued to sit during the anthem.
Shame on her parents for using her as a political pawn.Stop the silly protest and stand and sing proudly your National Anthem. Refusing to stand disrespects our country and our veterans. Suspension should follow if she continues to act like a brat #qldpol https://t.co/F0StkeBJDa
— Jarrod Bleijie (@JarrodBleijieMP) September 12, 2018
Parents call her brave
Mark Nielsen, Harper’s father, expressed his “amazement” to CNN. Mark said he was proud of his daughter and expressed happiness over how she handled the protest and then the controversy. He also mentioned that¬†his family had been overwhelmed by the positive responses received from across Australia, including the indigenous community. As a father, he reflected that people can say what they want. He said¬†people should not call her a brat without actually meeting her, since it seems a little weak-minded.
The Queensland Department of Education said the school never suggested Harper would be expelled or suspended for refusing to stand during the anthem. The school said they tried being respectful of her wishes. They provided her the alternative of not singing along.
Picture Credit:¬†The Courier Mail