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Prime Minister Scott Morrison has sought to clarify comments he made during last night’s first leader’s debate, which have angered disability advocates, saying he made them “in good faith”.
During the debate, Mr Morrison said he was “blessed” not to have children with a disability.

Mr Morrison was being questioned about the Coalition’s plans for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) by the mother of a child with autism.

The mother, Catherine, said she was grateful to receive support for her four-year-old son through the NDIS but, like many others, he recently had his funding cut.

Catherine, who has a four-year-old son with autism, questioned Scott Morrison about his party's NDIS plans.
Catherine, who has a four-year-old son with autism, questioned Scott Morrison about his party’s NDIS plans. (Sky News)

“I’ve been told, to give my son the best future, I need to vote Labor,” Catherine said to the prime minister.

“Can you please tell me what the future of the NDIS looks like under your government?”

After asking Catherine what her son’s name was, Mr Morrison gave his response.

“Jenny and I have been blessed, we’ve got two children that don’t — that haven’t had to go through that,” he said.

“And, so, for parents with children who are disabled, I can only try and understand your aspirations for those children.

“And then I think that is the beauty of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.”

After being roundly criticised for his choice of words on social media by the Opposition, disabled people and the parents of children with a disability, Mr Morrison sought to explain his reasoning for the remark.

“What I was saying in good faith … I was just simply saying that it’s tough and I’m grateful that there are these hardships that I and Jenny haven’t had to deal with, there are other things but it’s tough and it’s hard,” he told 2GB’s Ray Hadley.

“There is no greater love than a parent has for a child and particularly a child that has special needs and it is a blessing but I was simply trying to say in good faith that I haven’t walked in your shoes Catherine I’m not going to pretend to say that I understand it as well as you do.”

Labor senator Katy Gallagher, who has a daughter with autism, was one of many parents who took to Twitter to express outrage at Mr Morrison’s choice of words.

“I am ‘blessed’ to have a child with autism. She teaches me things every day. Our lives are enriched by her,” Ms Gallagher wrote in a tweet last night.

Labor’s shadow NDIS minister Bill Shorten was also quick to jump in.

“ScoMo says he is ‘blessed’ to have two non-disabled children. Every child is a blessing,” Mr Shorten tweeted.

“The NDIS is there to help people with disability live their lives to the fullest.

“My suggestion to Scott Morrison is he apologises to people with disability and their families for his remarks tonight which were insensitive.”

Disability advocate Carly Findlay also expressed her rage at the comment.

“I am blessed to be disabled – to be a part of a strong, supportive disability community (and to among many allies), to have a strong sense of disability pride, and to learn from many other disabled people,” she tweeted. 

“I am not blessed to have an ableist Prime Minister.”

Former Australian of the Year Grace Tame, who has autism, joined in the criticism.

Finance Minister Simon Birmingham told the ABC this morning Mr Morrison’s comment had been taken in the wrong way.

“The PM, actually in that context, was talking about not having to deal with the many challenges of systems that you have to work through to get support,” he said.

“It is simply the case that, as a country, all Australians, I think, understand the need for us to provide additional support and we can understand as well the circumstances for family members and for others helping people living with disabilities are not always easy circumstances.

“And that, for many of us, we are fortunate not to deal with some of the challenges faced in those cases.”

Source: 9News

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