'She's overwhelmed': Dad speaks out after daughter's anthem controversy


A Queensland schoolgirl has been threatened with suspension after refusing to stand for the national anthem during assembly.

Kenmore South State School grade four student Harper Nielsen, aged nine, has strong opinions about the lyrics of Advance Australia Fair.

“The reason why I don’t sing it or stand is because Advance Australia Fair means advance White Australia,” she told The Courier-Mail.

“When it says we are young it completely ignores the fact that indigenous culture was here for over 50,000 years before colonisation.”

Year 4 student Harper Nielsen, 9, has sparked debate by refusing to stand for the national anthem at school assembly. Source: 7 News

She refuses to stand for the song when it’s played. On Friday, her defiance lead to detention.

Her parents support her boycott, but have since copped major criticism from politicians and the public.

Father Mark Nielsen told 7News he fully supported his daughter’s choices.

“I support my kids, other people are well entitled to support their children in the way they feel is appropriate,” he said.

“She’s a bit overwhelmed at with everything at the moment, but we’re trying to support her to be true to herself.”

Harper’s parents say they support her decision to not stand for the national anthem. Source: 7 News

The school has offered Harper alternatives to singing the national anthem, including staying outside or not attending assembly, but the nine-year-old is not happy with the options.

“Harper’s not happy with them, that’s Harper’s decision and we’re supportive of that,” her father said.

“Everyone is trying to be very respectful.”

Queensland Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington also weighed in on the controversy.

“I stand by the school’s decision, I think all kids should stand for the national anthem,” she said.

In a statement to 7 News, Queensland Education Department said they had respected the student’s wishes.

‘She has been brainwashed’: Pauline Hanson

Meanwhile, Pauline Hanson has called Harper a “brat” for refusing to stand for the national anthem and said she should be kicked out of school.

Senator Hanson who posted a video on Facebook revealing her anger at the nine-year-old’s actions.

“Here we have a kid who has been brainwashed and I tell you what, I’d give her a kick up the backside,” the One Nation leader said.

“This kid is headed down the wrong path and I blame the parents for it, for encouraging this.

“No. Take her out of the school.”

One Nation’s Pauline Hanson has described Harper Nielsen as a ‘brat’ who should be ‘kicked out of school’. Source: 7 News

Senator Hanson said there was support for the anthem amongst the indigenous community as sporting stars regularly stood for the anthem.

“I’m angry about this. I’m proud of the Australian flag and the national anthem as everyone should be and so was Cathy Freeman,” she said.

“We were all proud of her, her cultural background, the Aboriginality, and the whole fact that she carried the two flags.

“She stood at the podium with the national anthem being played. Have they told this kid that?

“If it’s good enough for Cathy Freeman, Johnathon Thurston, and Warren Mundine to stand for the National anthem, it should be good enough for this nine-year-old brat.”

Shadow education minister Jarrod Bleijie echoed Senator Hanson’s words, saying on Twitter Harper deserved suspension if she continued her protest.

“Stop the silly protest and stand and sing proudly your National Anthem,” he tweeted.

“Refusing to stand disrespects our country and our veterans. Suspension should follow if she continues to act like a brat.”