POLITICS

Emma Husar Hits Back At Pauline Hanson's 'Uneducated' Comments About Autism In Schools

The One Nation leader is under fire for suggesting autistic children be segregated.

22/06/2017 8:44 AM AEST | Updated 22/06/2017 2:15 PM AEST
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Emma Husar is "angry, upset and disappointed" with Pauline Hanson.

CANBERRA -- The condemnation of Pauline Hanson over her suggestion during parliamentary debate on 'Gonski 2.0' that disabled and autistic children be removed from mainstream classes has been coming thick and fast.

"Hurtful", "bigoted", "repulsive" and "archaic" are just some of the words being used to describe the segregation suggestion.

Fellow federal politicians have joined the fray and it has just got very personal.

Labor's Emma Husar, who has a 10-year-old son, Mitch, on the autism spectrum, has demanded an apology from the One Nation leader, saying her comments are "ill-informed" and designed to divide the Australian community.

Walking into parliament, she said she was "angry, upset and disappointed."

"I'm disappointed that in 2017 we've got people like Senator Hanson sitting over there in the Senate making ill-informed comments about kids that are autistic; that they don't belong in a mainstream classroom, and calling on them to be segregated," she said.

Husar said her son is in a mainstream school, but "that wasn't always the case".

"He was diagnosed when he was 18 months, and I was told that he would never speak; that I should never expect that he could play in sports team with his age-match peers, or that he could be included in a mainstream class," she revealed.

"But he is -- and he does very, very well."

Pauline Hanson claims to have been taken out of context with her suggestion that disabled or autistic children be removed from mainstream classes and urged her supporters to watcher speech in full.

So what did she say?

Hanson said she'd spoken to parents and teachers and come to the view that disabled or autistic children should be removed from mainstream classrooms so they can get "special attention" and not hold other children back.

"We need to get rid of those people because you want everyone to feel good about themselves," Hanson told parliament, later clarifying that "those people" were do-gooders.

She has accused the media of "playing games" with One Nation.

On Thursday in the Senate, Hanson sought to explain her views.

"Go back and watch my tape yesterday," she said.

"I will debate the issue to do with what I said yesterday, with regards to autistic kids. I believe they need the most assistance and help as any other child in the educational system."

Hanson said she was motivated by looking after children being held back by others, because the teachers spend time with them. The One Nation leader HAS has some support from some parents, but the overwhelming reaction has been one of outrage.

Emma Husar has demanded an apology.

"She owes an apology to every single autistic child in this country; to every one of the parents, like me, because we have got better things to be doing than defending our kids," the western Sydney based MP said.

"She owes an apology to 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 was not finished.

"And, I've got one thing to say to every single child on the autism spectrum, who is going into a classroom today -- whether that is a mainstream class, whether that's a support unit, or whether that's a school with a specific purpose -- that you matter," she said. "That you can be included, and you ought to be included."

"And, that 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."

Disability groups have also condemned Hanson's suggestion, Social Services Minister Christian Porter has described her views as "archaic" and Labor's Tony Burke said Hanson's suggestion was "'horrific, mean, cruel and typical".

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