Australian politician criticised for remarks about autism

Austrailan politician Pauline Hanson makes a speech in the Australian parliament Image copyright Australian Senate
Image caption Australian Senator Pauline Hanson has a history of making polarising comments

Controversial Australian politician Pauline Hanson is facing calls to apologise for suggesting students with autism be removed from classrooms.

Her comments were widely criticised by government MPs, the opposition and disability rights advocates.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is close to passing A$23.5b (£14b; $18b) in extra funding to Australian schools.

But to pass legislation he will rely on the support of Ms Hanson, who leads the anti-immigration One Nation party.

"These kids have a right to an education, by all means, but, if there are a number of them, these children should go into a special classroom and be looked after and given that special attention," Ms Hanson said on Wednesday night.

"It is no good saying that we have to allow these kids to feel good about themselves and that we do not want to upset them and make them feel hurt."

Experts were quoted in local media saying that research showed inclusive education is beneficial to students with and without disabilities.

'She owes an apology'

Labor MP Emma Husar, who has a 10 year old son with autism, said she was "angry and disappointed" by Ms Hanson's comments.

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

Image copyright ABC
Image caption Labor MP Emma Husar has demanded an apology from Senator Pauline Hanson

"I have got one thing to say to every single child on the autism spectrum who is going into a classroom today, whether that's a mainstream class, whether that's a support unit or a school with a specific purpose - that you matter.

"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're still better than she is on her best day."

Ms Hanson stood by her controversial comments on Thursday and said they have been taken out of context, saying: "Go back and watch my tape."

In March, Ms Hanson made comments advocating the discredited theory which links vaccines with autism. She later apologised only for suggesting that parents subject their children to a non-existent test for vaccine allergies.

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