Sydney, Australia, Apr 21 (EFE).- Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison was at the center of controversy on Thursday after saying during a leaders debate that he felt “blessed” for not having a child with disability.
Morrison said he was “deeply sorry” for his comments made during the on Wednesday in Brisbane when he was asked by the mother of a four-year-old autistic boy about the future of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
“Jenny (wife) and I have been blessed. We’ve got two children that don’t, that haven’t had to go through that,” he replied to the mother.
“And so for parents, with children who are disabled, I can only try and understand your aspirations for those children,” added the prime minister, who was participating in the debate with opposition Labor party leader Anthony Albanese.
Morrison’s statements immediately sparked backlash in the media and social networks.
“Woke up this morning feeling very blessed to be disabled – I reckon my parents are pretty happy about it too,” tweeted Dylan Alcott, who was awarded the 2022 Australian of the Year for his service to Paralympic sport, particularly tennis, and to the community and as a role model for people with a disability.
“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,” he added.
Labor Senator Kathy Gallagher, who has a daughter with autism, said Morrison’s remarks were “offending and quite shocking” and insisted that “every child is a blessing,” reported national broadcaster SBS.
Green Party Senator Jordon Steele-John tweeted that he was “done with this government dismissing and disempowering disabled people,” while Grace Tame, 2021 Australian of the Year for her advocacy for survivors of sexual assault, tweeted that “autism blesses those of us who have it with the ability to spot fakes from a mile off” alongside a photo of her looking sideways at Morrison.
“I accept that it has caused offense to people,” said Morrison on Thursday, according to national broadcaster ABC. “I think people would also appreciate that I would have had no such intention of suggesting anything other than [that] every child is a blessing.”
“I was seeking to respect the challenges they face, not the opposite,” he added.
Morrison, who has been criticized in the past for his statements about parliamentary rape allegations and for leaving for a holiday in Hawaii during the 2019-20 bushfire crisis, among other things, faces a tight electoral fight on May 21.
According to a Newspoll poll carried out between Apr. 14-17, Labor could take 53 percent of the vote, while the ruling coalition could take 47 percent, although a turnaround is not ruled out, as happened in 2019. EFE