Morrison was being questioned about the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Coalition plans 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, had recently had her funding cut off.
“I have been told that in order to give my son the best future, I need to vote Labor,” Catherine told the prime minister.
“Can you tell me what the future of the NDIS looks like under your government?”
After asking Catherine what her son’s name was, Morrison gave her answer.
“Jenny and I have been blessed, we have two children who have not, who have not had to go through that,” he said.
“And so for parents with disabled children, I can only try to understand their aspirations for those children.
“And then I think that’s the beauty of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.”
After being roundly criticized for his choice of words on social media by Labour, disabled people and parents of disabled children, Morrison sought to explain his reasoning for the comment.
“What I was saying in good faith… I was just saying that it’s hard and I’m thankful that there are these hardships that Jenny and I haven’t had to deal with, there are other things, but it’s hard and it’s tough,” she told him. told Ray Hadley of 2GB.
“There is no greater love than a parent has for a child and particularly a child who has special needs and it’s a blessing, but I was simply trying to tell you in good faith that I haven’t been in your shoes, Catherine. I’m not going.” to pretend to say that I understand it as well as you do.
Australian of the Year and disability advocate Dylan Alcott weighed in this morning, saying he was “very blessed to be disabled”.
Morrison said this afternoon that he had spoken with both Alcott and Catherine, the mother who asked the question.
He said he was “deeply sorry” for the comment.
“I meant no offense by what I said last night, but I accept that it has offended people…and I have been in touch today and apologized directly to Dylan for that,” he said.
“I think people would also appreciate that I hadn’t meant to suggest that anything other than every child is a blessing is true.
“Every child is precious and a blessing to every parent.
“I don’t think that’s in dispute and I don’t think anyone seriously thinks that I intended anything other than that.”
Labor Senator Katy Gallagher, who has a daughter with autism, was one of many parents who took to Twitter to express outrage at Morrison’s choice of words.
“I am ‘blessed’ to have a son with autism. She teaches me things every day. Our lives are enriched by her,” Ms. Gallagher wrote in a tweet last night.
NDIS Labor Minister Bill Shorten was also quick to weigh in.
“ScoMo says he is ‘blessed’ to have two children without disabilities. Every child is a blessing,” Shorten tweeted.
“The NDIS is there to help people with disabilities live their lives to the fullest.
“My suggestion to Scott Morrison is that he apologize to people with disabilities and their families for his comments tonight that were insensitive.”
Disability advocate Carly Findlay also expressed her anger at the comment.
“I am lucky to have a disability: to be part of a strong and supportive disability community (and among many allies), to have a strong sense of pride in disability, and to learn from so many other people with disabilities,” she tweeted.
“I am not blessed to have a trained Prime Minister.”
Former Australian of the Year Grace Tame, who has autism, joined the critics.
Finance Minister Simon Birmingham told ABC this morning that Morrison’s comment had been taken incorrectly.
“The prime minister, actually in that context, was talking about not having to deal with the many systems challenges that you have to work through to get support,” he said.
“It’s just the case that as a country I think all Australians understand the need for us to provide additional support and we can also understand that circumstances for family members and for others who help people with disabilities are not always they’re easy”. circumstances.
“And that, for a lot of us, we’re fortunate that we don’t face some of the challenges that we do in those cases.”