HON ALISON XAMON (North Metropolitan) [ 5.45 pm ]: I rise to echo the sentiments of the Minister for Disability Services and to endorse the comments of members of the Labor, Liberal and National Parties. I rise on behalf of the WA Greens to also join the voices of my federal colleagues in condemning the comments made by Senator Hanson about people with autism. I also acknowledge the effect that those comments have had on their families.

I particularly want to note and to echo the comments made by Hon Matthew Swinbourn about the need to not “other” people within our community who have disability. I note that the honourable member’s comments are completely spot-on. We are talking about us; we are talking about our community. I am tired of the division. I am tired of people with disability, or lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex people or people of different ethnic or racial backgrounds, being told that they are different and not part of “us”, because we are “us”, and they are “us”.

I also want to speak specifically about the issue of the inclusion of children with disability within our schooling system, just as I spoke on that in the debate on the Loan Bill. This is exactly the sort of service end that needs to be operating within our schools and that I think is absolutely worthy of funding. We know that children with disability benefit greatly from being included within our schools — the research shows that. Just as importantly, children who do not have disability also benefit. That has been demonstrated by the research. The reality is that our public school system — in fact, our private school system — should be inclusive and celebratory of diversity in all the forms it appears. All children are special. All children matter. All children are entitled to be valued and are entitled to have access to the best quality education system that is available to them.

I also note the distress and outrage that has been expressed, particularly by parents of children with disability, and the comments they have made about how their children are feeling today and how they are angry and fed up with having to defend the rights of their children to simply be acknowledged as valuable and equal members of our community.

I also rise on behalf of this party to join the other parties that have already spoken to condemn those comments. They have no place not only within our Parliament, but also, indeed, within Australia. This is not what we are about. This is not what Australians do and I hope that there is going to be an urgent and humble retraction of those statements.


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