Bleijie MP defends anthem 'brat' label
Kawana MP Jarrod Bleijie is adamant he would call any child a "brat", including his own, if they refused to abide by school rules.
The Shadow Education Minister's comment came after he used the label on a Year 4 student who sat during Advance Australia Fair, expressing her belief it means "advance White Australia".
The Kawana MP said he "felt sorry" for Harper Nielsen, whose peaceful protest made national headlines and inflamed debate over whether her actions were disrespectful.
He threw his full support behind the Kenmore South State School, who demanded Harper stand or leave the building.
The Courier Mail reported that when she refused to do either, she was asked to write an apology or risk suspension.
"When you are at school, abide by the rules, I support the principal," Mr Bleijie said.
"This is about standing and she is sitting in protest, it's not her not wanting to sing. Everyone should proudly sing the national anthem, but the issue is she is sitting in protest on behalf of father and mother."
Mr Bleijie told the Sunshine Coast Daily he felt "sorry" for Harper as he was adamant her parents Mark and Yvette were using her as a "political pawn" to push their view, rather than supporting their daughter's conviction.
Mr Bleijie said he was especially disappointed having learnt via a radio interview that Harper's father was a psychology professor.
"I would have thought he would know better than using a nine-year-old to get his political views across," Mr Bleijie said.
"I have a seven, 12 and 15 year old and I would never put them on the political stage.
"And I have never seen a nine-year-old or anyone around that age stage a political protest with the wording of the national anthem; this is clearly her parents' doing."
Mr Bleijie's Tweet claimed Harper's protest "disrespects our country and our veterans".
Mr Bleijie told the Daily he sees the national anthem as something which unites all Australians.
"I support that, I support our flag, everything it stands for and the free country we live in today," Mr Bleijie said.
When questioned whether he believes Harper's peaceful protest was an expression of that "freedom", Mr Bleijie reiterated his firm stance.
"When you are a nine-year-old in grade four at a state school, who have a rule to stand for the national anthem, you abide by the rule."