Aussie Senator under fire for controversial comments about autistic students

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-22 11:29:55|Editor: MJ
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CANBERRA, June 22 (Xinhua) -- An Australian Senator on Thursday defended her controversial comments she made about how autistic children should be removed from mainstream education, claiming the remarks were "completely taken out of context" despite a fierce backlash from colleagues in Canberra.

On Wednesday, the One Nation Party's Senator Pauline Hanson who is not a stranger to the headlines said that while children on the autistic spectrum "have a right to an education", they should be segregated because they're slowing the other children down.

"These children should go into a special classroom and be looked after and given that special attention," Hanson told the Senate.

"(Other children) are held back by those others, because the teachers spend time with the (autistic children). We have to be realistic at times and consider the impact this is having on other children in the classroom."

But on Thursday, after words of Hanson's speech spread, colleagues in the Senate and in the House of Representatives were quick to slam the Senator for her "insensitive" comments.

Labor MP Emma Husar, who herself has a 10-year-old autistic son, said that Hanson not only owes an apology to "every single autistic child in this country", but she should also apologize to "every one of the parents who have better things to do than defend our kids".

"She owes an apology to the 164,000 Australians who have autism spectrum disorder -- the children and the adults -- who have been told for a long time that they don't belong," Husar told the press in Canberra on Thursday.

"I have one thing to say to every single child who won the autism spectrum today who is going into a class today... You matter, you can be included, you ought to be included.

"Even on the days that are hard, when you're frustrated and your disability makes you angry, you are still better than she is on her best day."

Social Services Minister Christian Porter described the comments as "archaic" and "very unhelpful" when speaking to Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) radio on Thursday.

"Those comments are very wrong. When you are an important figure in Parliament, the Senate, you have got to make sure that you are very well informed about things that you speak about," Porter said.

"I think one of the descriptions that was provided about Senator Hanson's comments was that they were archaic and that's absolutely right."

Meanwhile parent groups were also critical of the Senator's remarks. Nicole Lessio, acting executive director of The Parenthood told the Nine Network that uniformed comments such as those made by Hanson were "dangerous" and "damaging".

"There are not strong enough words to fully articulate how dangerous and damaging Senator Hanson's comments are," Lessio said.

"While we'd prefer not to give more oxygen to Senator Hanson's offensive comments, we cannot let bullies use their platform to insult and denigrate children."

"School should be a safe place for all kids. As parents, we teach our children to accept and support peers with all levels of ability."

Responding to the comments on social media on Thursday, Hanson said "The news articles on my education speech, involving comments on autistic children, were completely taken out of context. Once again, this is the media playing games with One Nation".