9-year-old Australian girl faces politicians' ire over anthem protest

Advance Australia Fair: Pauline Hanson attacks schoolgirl's anthem protest

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"It says "Advance Australia Fair" and when it was originally written it meant advance Australia for white skin people", she told SBS News.

The girl's protest, which echoed those of American football players who have knelt at games during the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner", made headlines in the same week that a national newspaper printed a cartoon depicting tennis player Serena Williams with exaggerated lips.

I know the words of the anthem, and even though I'm no longer a Jehovah's Witness (I was never baptised), I still don't sing it, simply because I learned things differently to everyone else growing up. "I'm proud of the Australian flag and the national anthem as everyone should be and so was Cathy Freeman", she said.

Harper has taken issue with the opening lyrics to the anthem, which read: "Australians all let us rejoice, for we are young and free".

Student Harper Nielsen was given detention last week for not joining classmates in a rendition of "Advance Australia Fair", a song she says ignores the nation's indigenous people.

"We were surprised behaviour such as a passive non-participation might be considered in the same realm as something like bringing a knife to school or being violent towards others", she said.

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Nielsen made her thoughts known at the start of the school year when she refused to get out of her seat for, or sing along with, the anthem, and the Courier Mail reports that her parents are now at loggerheads with the school over the punishment handed to their daughter.

The young girl chose not to stand during the anthem at her school assembly as a peaceful protest over the song which she feels completely disregards indigenous Australians.

So back off Harper, Australia.

"It's just a sign of good manners and courtesy to stand for the national anthem", the former leader said Tuesday.

"What the hell is going on?"

In Queensland, shadow education minister Jarrod Bleijie had the same name for Harper, accusing her parents of using her as a "political pawn". "I'm angry about this", Pauline Hanson, the founder of a right-wing political party, said in a video posted to Twitter. We're talking about a child who has no idea. "Suspension should follow if she continues to act like a brat".

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Her state senator, who said she was "brainwashed", offered to give her "a kick up the backside".

Whether you think she's right or wrong - disrespectful or not - there is no excuse for belittling and bullying a nine-year-old child in front of the country.

It's clear this is a strong, intelligent, considered girl who deserves to be applauded for her choice.

The Courier today reported Harper and her parents had been at loggerheads with the Kenmore South State School after it demanded she stand or leave the building.

In a statement, the Queensland Department of Education said it was inclusive and supported different points of view, but denied that Harper had been threatened with suspension or expulsion for her protest.

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