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Outrage as schoolgirl refuses to stand for anthem

Harper Nielsen staged a peaceful protest and refused to sing the national anthem. Picture: Annette Dew
Harper Nielsen staged a peaceful protest and refused to sing the national anthem. Picture: Annette Dew

A NINE-YEAR-OLD schoolgirl is facing suspension after she refused to stand for Australia's national anthem.

Harper Nielsen, a student at Kenmore South State School in Brisbane, decided to protest against Advance Australia Fair, saying it was not inclusive of indigenous Australians.

The Courier-Mail newspaper broke the story about the Year 4 student and how the school told her she had to stand or leave the building.

When she refused to do either, the school handed the Year 4 student a lunchtime detention for "blatant disrespect". She was then told that she could not leave the office until she had signed a written apology and that she could be suspended.

The issue has this morning sparked a bitter debate on radio and television.

Shock jock Alan Jones and controversial commentator Mark Latham said Harper was "defying the school".

"We used to have special schools for children with behaviour problems," Mr Latham said on the 4BC radio show. "Not standing is a behavioural problem, so kick her out."

Jones was also furious about the Brisbane student's decision.

"What on earth do you do ... other than call the parents in and say 'listen, these are the rules here, if you don't like them you do as we say or go somewhere else because we're not accommodating you".

Harper Nielsen says the best way to make her point is to sit during the national anthem. Picture: Annette Dew
Harper Nielsen says the best way to make her point is to sit during the national anthem. Picture: Annette Dew

Harper told The Courier-Mail the line in the national anthem, "for we are young and free", disregarded Aboriginals who had lived in Australia for tens of thousands of years and only saw Australia as a country post-colonisation.

Jones was incensed by this and said that "colonisation brought the kind of tremendous wealth that all Australians now enjoy".

"The school only exists because of colonisation, what sort of fools are these?" Latham added

Despite the 4BC commentary, Harper has received a lot of support online.

"I do applaud her for considering the words of the national anthem, a lot of people just rattle it off and don't consider the meaning and I also applaud her strength of character to stand up for what she believes in," Today show host Georgie Gardner said this morning.

Meanwhile, her co-host Karl Stefanovic levelled blame at the parents.

"Her parents are obviously supporting her and I think that's the big problem here, her parents are supporting her in a way that I don't think is appropriate," Stefanovic said.

"The schools have rules, I'm exacerbated by this this morning so if you don't like that as a parent, if you don't like that your child will have to stand for the anthem then go somewhere else. Schools have rules and they have to be abided by."

 

Harper with her parents Mark Nielsen and Yvette Miller. Picture: Annette Dew
Harper with her parents Mark Nielsen and Yvette Miller. Picture: Annette Dew

Topics:  anthem australian anthem editors picks queensland school girl suspension