CANBERRA (CU)_The National Disability Insurance Scheme was a critical subject of discussion during the debate between Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Labour leader Anthony Albanese, during which the PM really bungled the coalition’s views on the matter.
When a parent, identified as Catherine Yeoman, asked him about funding cuts in the insurance scheme, he said: “Jenny and I have been blessed, we have two children who 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,” he added. “And then I think that is the beauty of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.”
The Prime Minister’s comments that he is “blessed” for not having any children with disabilities, attracted widespread criticism from Labour MPs and disability advocates. “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?” Yeoman inquired to which PM Morrison said the scheme helped people live their “best possible life”, but acknowledged that it still had “faults” that needed to be addressed.
Labor Senator Katy Gallagher, who has an autistic daughter, also reacted to the Prime Minister’s comments saying “my daughter enriches my life and my partner’s life every day”. She added that the Liberal leader’s response was “the kind of response they get all the time”. “I found it really offending and quite shocking,” the Senator told Channel 7.
Paralympian and Australian of the Year Dylan Alcott was among those who criticised the Prime Minister for his disability remarks. “Woke up this morning feeling very blessed to be disabled – I reckon my parents are pretty happy about it too,” he said. “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, PM Morrison claims his words have been “twisted”, and said he did not think Yeoman found his words hurtful or offensive. “Catherine certainly didn’t convey to me that she had taken it in that way,” he said. It is also reported that the Prime Minister has apologised to Alcott for his comments.