Australian PM Scott Morrison faces backlash after saying he’s ‘blessed’ not to have disabled children

Mr Morrison made the remark during a town hall debate ahead of Australia's election

Published

The Australian prime minister’s comments have been dubbed upsetting, with an opposition MP saying “every child is a blessing”.

But allies of Mr Morrison said the context of his comment has been lost.

During a debate with Labor leader Anthony Albanese, Mr Morrison was asked about funding for a disability support scheme.

An audience member called Catherine said: "I've been told, to give my son the best future, I need to vote Labor. Can you please tell me what the future of the [National Disability Insurance Scheme] looks like under your government?"

Mr Morrison replied: "Jenny and I have been blessed, we've got two children that don't – that haven't had to go through that.

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

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the garden of 10 Downing Street
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the garden of 10 Downing Street
Scott Morrison
Scott Morrison

He went on to discuss how the scheme helped people "live their best possible life" while adding it still had "faults" to address.

But his use of the word “blessed" provoked significant backlash.

Labor Senator Katy Gallagher, who has an autistic daughter, said it was "the kind of response they get all the time".

She told Network Seven: "Certainly my daughter enriches my life and my partner's life every day."

Greens Senator Jordon Steele-John, who uses a wheelchair, said: "I am done with this government dismissing and disempowering disabled people."

Mr Morrison defended his words as being "in good faith".

He said: “I was just simply trying to say... 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."

Senator Hollie Hughes, who has an autistic son, said people were "missing the point of the substantive issue here if they want to focus on one word".

She added: "It's not looking at us as families or our children as a burden – it's a recognition that we do have additional challenges.

"This is why the disability community struggles to make constructive gains. Because there's lying underneath it a significant, almost permanent rage machine.”

Australia's election is on May 21.

Opinion polls currently show the opposition is slightly favoured to win.