'Not apologising': Hanson won't back down on autism comments
PAULINE Hanson has slammed her critics as "disgraceful" and "misleading" after facing a major backlash to her comments that children with autism should be removed from mainstream classrooms.
The One Nation leader refused to apologise for comments she made yesterday during a fiery press conference in Canberra, saying the issue of resourcing for special schools needed to be raised.
Senator Hanson also accused Labor and the Greens of attempting to score political points over the backlash.
"I am not apologising," she told reporters at Parliament House.
"Let's debate the whole thing … clearly there is an issue here.
"It upset people and that was not my intention.
"My intention is to raise these issues, speak about them, openly, honestly on the floor of Parliament.
"To go out there and say that I want to stop children from going into classrooms is disgraceful, it is misleading, that is very hurtful to the parents who do have children with autism."
"We have to debate these issues," she said. "There is a problem in our society - parents know it, teachers know it. But if you raise anything in this country that is taboo by just a few of those on the left, we are not going to find the answers that we need."
Teachers were not given adequate training or resources to provide "an appropriate program for children with special needs", she said.
Senator Hanson said she had been "inundated" by feedback from teachers, parents and children with autism who agreed the issue of resourcing for special schools needed to be raised.
She rejected any suggestion she had called for children with autism to be segregated.
When asked if she could have phrased her comments better, Senator Hanson said she had been taken out of context.
"I'm not saying they do not belong in the mainstream, I am saying give them the special attention, if they need that special attention," she said.
Asked who should decide where children with autism went to school, she said it was not her job to decide.
"I'm not going to make policy on the run … I'm not a professional in that area, to decide that," she said.
"Apparently, one of the notes of the teacher is that they are dealing with that and they don't know how to deal with it at all.
"There are different levels of autism and parents will tell you that."