Australian politicians have launched public attacks against a nine-year-old girl who refused to stand during the country's national anthem to protest nation's treatment of its indigenous population.
Harper Nielsen has said that she sat during her country's national anthem because she believed it was disrespectful to indigenous Australians.
Australia’s national anthem, entitled "Advance Australia Fair," contains the line "Australians all let us rejoice, for we are young and free".
Neilsen told Aussie news channel Nine News that she objects to these lines in particular. She said:
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
Australia's indigenous population represents about 2% of the total population but suffer significant health and social inequalities.
Far-right senator Pauline Hanson said Australian schools were "brainwashing" children and called for Nielsen to be expelled.
It's about who we are as a nation, it's part of us ... Here we have a kid who's been brainwashed and I'll tell you what, I'd give her a kick up the backside"
This kid is headed down the wrong path and I blame the parents for encouraging this
Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said standing for the anthem is “good manners”. Queensland Liberal National politician Jarrod Bleijie said on Twitter that Neilsen is a "brat" who should be suspended if she continues to protest.
Though her father Mark Nielsen told CNN that he was "amazed and proud" of his daughter.
(I'm) amazed at her capacity for seeing things that don't feel right and having the strength to try and right them. I don't have that, so to see someone so young is really astonishing, and I'm just incredibly proud.
Nielsen said his family had received both support and hate mail.
In response to the furore, the Queensland Department of Education said the school would not expel or suspend Nielsen for sitting during the anthem. It said:
Kenmore South State School is an inclusive and tolerant school which supports the diverse points of view of all students and families.
The argument over Australia's national anthem follows a long-running dispute between US president Donald Trump and the National Football League, after several African-American players began kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality.