Hanson defends comments about children with autism

Senator Hanson, speaking during debate on schools funding on Wednesday, raised the prospect of autistic children being segregated from mainstream classrooms in order to receive special attention.


She said it was no good allowing kids with autism to feel good about themselves without considering the impact it was having on other children around them.

Her comments have sparked outrage among parents of autistic children and she has come under fire from Labor and Greens senators.

0:00 ‘Autistic children hold back other kids’: Hanson Share ‘Autistic children hold back other kids’: Hanson

But Ms Hanson refused to back down and dug in behind her original speech at a press conference in Canberra on Thursday.

“I will not take away back my comments.”

She continued: “If I upset people, that was not my intention. My intention is to raise these issues, speak about them openly, honestly, on the floor of Parliament.”

She labelled criticism of her position as political point scoring, saying her comments had been misrepresented.

Federal Labor MP Emma Husar, who has a child with autism, has demanded an apology from Ms Hanson.

“She owes an apology to every single autistic child in this country, every one of the parents who are like me – because we’ve got better things to do than defend our kids,” Ms Husar said.

0:00 Emma Husar responds to Pauline Hanson Share Emma Husar responds to Pauline Hanson

Greens leader Richard Di Natale described the remarks as some of the most “hateful, outrageous” and “disgraceful” comments towards young children in need of extra support.

Ms Hanson said every child deserved an education, but students with autism needed special attention and could be taught in special classrooms.

“The rest of the time they are allowed to mix with the other kids in the playgrounds and sporting events. Whatever.”

She said parents and “teachers around the country” had thanked her for her frank comments and she read a letter from a 15-year-old boy who said he hated being at a mainstream school.