Pauline Hanson has called for disabled students to be removed from mainstream classrooms and attacked teachers as “do-gooders” in a bizarre speech lamenting the state of Australia’s education system.
It comes as the Turnbull government appears to have won enough Senate support to pass its controversial Gonski 2.0 schools funding package.
In offering her support to the government, Senator Hanson expressed concern that teachers were struggling to deal with disabled students in mainstream classrooms.
“I hear so many times from parents and teachers whose time is taken up by children in the classroom where they have a disability, or whether they are autistic,” she said.
“These kids have a right to an education by all means.
“But if there is a number of them these children should actually go into a special classroom – looked after and given that special attention.
“It’s no good saying we’ve got to allow these kids to feel good about themselves, and we don’t want to upset them, and make them feel hurt.
“I understand that. But we have to be realistic at times and consider the impact they are having on other children in the classroom.
“We need to get rid of those people because you want everyone to feel good about themselves.”
Senator Hanson also said there were not enough “special classrooms” or schools for autistic students.
“And if there are, they are at a huge expense to parents. I think we need to take that into consideration,” she said.
Autism Awareness Australia chief executive Nicole Rogerson she was “appalled and disgusted” by Senator Hanson’s comments.
“At one point I felt speechless. This is dangerous and archaic,” Ms Rogerson, whose son has autism, told The New Daily.
“The fact that she would use the Australian Parliament to say something so discriminatory and ridiculous about Australian children with disabilities is disgusting.
“Research over decades has been done that shows the benefits of inclusive education for both developing children and for those with a disability.
“It’s a hurtful thing for families across Australia to say. She should be ashamed.”
Opposition leader Bill Shorten also quickly hit out at Senator Hanson’s comments.
“Heartbreaking and upsetting for parents of children with autism to hear [Pauline Hanson] say their kids don’t deserve the same opportunity,” he said on Twitter.
The New Daily contacted Senator Hanson’s office for comment.
The Turnbull government spent Wednesday morning negotiating with the Senate crossbench, which has sought about $5 billion extra schools funding and other concessions in order to pass the legislation.
By Wednesday afternoon, the Nick Xenophon team, independents Jacqui Lambie, Derryn Hinch and Lucy Gichuhi and One Nation had indicated support, meaning the bill was likely to pass.
But although One Nation backed the government’s funding package, she said the key issue in Australia’s education system is teacher quality, not money.
That included the fact there was a lack of competition in classrooms because ‘do-gooder’ teachers did not want to hurt students’ feelings.
“We’ve lost the quality of teachers because [of] people over the years, these do-gooders, who want everyone to feel good about themselves,” she said.
“They’ve come to the educational system and they’re saying to kids, ‘You’re all right, you don’t have to compete.’”