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In last week’s leader’s debate, Prime Minister Scott Morrison MP caused an uproar by saying he and his wife were “blessed to have children who haven’t had to go through [disability]”.

Many people with disability and their advocates have criticised Mr Morrison for his comment and identified it as ableist and disrespectful.

What did he say?

You can hear or see the Prime Minister's comment, in full and in context, in the below video. There are closed captions. 

When asked by an audience member named Catherine, whose son's NDIS package had recently been cut, what the future of the NDIS looks like under his government, before answering the question, the Prime Minister asked the woman her son's name and age. He then commented that he and his wife,

"Jenny and I have been blessed with two children that don't... that haven't had to go through that, and so for parents of children who are disabled, I can only try to understand your aspirations for those children." 

Senator Jordan Steele-John, a staunch disability advocate and wheelchair user himself said,

“For millions of us, hearing these words come out of the Prime Minister’s mouth pushed a real big button. It brought to the front of our minds every stare or quiet remark made by a stranger, and it raised the age-old critical self-talk question: am I a burden on my family and loved ones? It cut pretty deep.”

You can read the Senator’s full article on the Pedestrian website here.

Paralympian and Australian Open Champion, Dylan Alcott OAM, who is 2022 Australian of the Year and a passionate advocate for disability also said,

“Woke up this morning feeling very blessed to be disabled - I reckon my parents are pretty happy about it too. Feeling sorry for us and our families doesn’t help. Treating us equally, and giving us the choice and control over our own lives does”.

Meanwhile, former Australian of the Year, Grace Tame, a child sexual abuse survivor and advocate who has Autism, said,

“Autism blesses those of us who have it with the ability to spot fakes from a mile off” 

She attached an image of herself and the Prime Minister at the Australia Day celebrations at Parliament House this year, which went viral, and for which she was heavily criticised for failing to smile in.

The Prime Minister has since apologised for his comment and attempted to clarify his position.

“Look, I meant no offence by what I said last night, but I accept that it has caused offence and Dylan [Alcott] and I have been in contact today and I apologised directly to Dylan about that.

I think people would also appreciate that I would have had no such intention of suggesting anything other than “every child is a blessing” is true.

Every single child is precious and a blessing to every single parent, and I don’t think that is in dispute, and I don’t think anyone would seriously think that I had the intent of anything different to that.”

Further reading

ABC News- Not 'blessed', but privileged: Why Morrison's election debate comment angered so many this week


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