'Doesn't help': Dylan Alcott responds to PM's awkward debate moment

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·Associate News Editor
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Australian of the Year Dylan Alcott has responded to remarks from Scott Morrison in which the prime minister said he and his wife Jenny were "blessed" not to have children with disabilities.

The seven-time Australian Open wheelchair singles champion mimicked Mr Morrison's comment from the first leaders' debate on Wednesday night.

“Woke up this morning feeling very blessed to be disabled – I reckon my parents are pretty happy about it too,” he wrote on Twitter on Thursday.

Scott Morrison presenting Dylan Alcott with the Australian of the Year award earlier this year. Source: AAP
Scott Morrison presenting Dylan Alcott with the Australian of the Year award earlier this year. Source: AAP

“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.”

Addressing the media on Thursday, Mr Morrison said he had spoken to Alcott about his comments.

“I meant no offence by what I said last night but I accept that it has caused offence to people... I apologised directly to Dylan about that," he said.

Mr Morrison said the points about equality Alcott was making "are right".

Alcott is one of several disability advocates to speak out over Mr Morrison's comment, which he made in response to a question about funding cuts to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) from a mother with a 4-year-old son with autism.

Alcott's predecessor as Australian of the Year, Grace Tame, also took aim at the PM, sharing a photo of the now famous and highly-divisive moment she side-eyed Mr Morrison earlier this year.

“Autism blesses those of us who have it with the ability to spot fakes from a mile off," she quipped.

Scott Morrison defends his choice of words

Earlier on Thursday, Mr Morrison defended his remarks, insisting the Labor party has politicised comments that were made in "good faith".

"I was just simply saying that it's tough and I'm grateful that these are hardships that I and Jenny haven't had to deal with," he told 2GB this morning.

The woman who posed the question said the funding she received for her son had been cut by 30 per cent recently.

"Jenny and I have been blessed, we've got two children who don't ... who haven't had to go through that and so for parents with children who are disabled I can only try and understand," Mr Morrison began his response to her at the Brisbane event.

Speaking to reporters on the campaign trail on Thursday afternoon, Mr Morrison took umbrage with the way his comments were framed, but said he was "deeply sorry" for any offence they may have caused.

Labor calls for apology

Earlier, Shadow Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Bill Shorten said Mr Morrison should apologise for his "insensitive" remarks.

"Every child is a blessing," he said on Twitter.

Mr Shorten criticised the handling of NDIS funds under the Morrison government, and promised Labor would "fix" the scheme.

Labor's finance spokeswoman Katy Gallagher, whose daughter has autism, told Seven she was "really upset" by Mr Morrison's remarks and found them "really shocking".

Liberal Senator Hollie Huges, who also has a son with autism, defended the prime minister and urged people to focus on more important things.

“I really do think that people are missing the point of the substantive issue here if they want to focus on one word,” she told ABC’s News Breakfast on Thursday.

“There's issues we can be angry about, the use of the word ‘blessed’ is symptomatic of those who don't like Scott and want to find something to cling to.”

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