PM apologises for 'no slavery' comments, blasts protestors
PRIME MINISTER Scott Morrison has apologised for "any offence caused" by his "Australia never had slaves" comments.
He made the apology during his weekly live update on the COVID-10 situation across Australia.
"There was not the laws that have ever proved to slavery in this country," Mr Morrison said as explanation for his view that aired on radio earlier this week..
"So we don't intend to get into the history laws - my comments were not intended to give offence and if they did I deeply regret that and apologise for that.
"This is not about getting into the history wars."
During the presser, Mr Morrison demanded refugee and Black Lives Matter protestors to hold off on planned weekend rallies, saying there "shouldn't be a double standard" for Australians when it comes to social distancing.
"The medical advice is that this is an unsafe thing to do," he said, making it clear it was impossible to make such large gatherings safe.
Last weekend 10s of thousands of people gathered to protest violence against Indigenous Australians, causing widespread outrage.
"It puts not only your own health at risk, but it puts other people's lives at risk," Mr Morrison said.
"It puts the, in an economic terms because of the risk of a way that could come from these events, it was the livelihoods of other Australians at risk, people's businesses, it was the progress we have been able to make at risk and the very clear message is that people should not attend those events because it is against the health advice to do so.
"And so I would strongly encourage people to exercise that responsibility by not attending those events and respect their fellow Australians by exercising the stability and on the views they wish to express, that they seek to express those in another way.
"This is not about the issue that people are raising, this is about people's health and welfare and I would urge Australians to respect that by not attending those events."
INDIGENOUS INCARCERATION AND POLICY
Mr Morrison acknowledged the Black Lives Matter activists' concerns, but he said the solution to ending deaths in custody was not going to be easy.
"The challenges of Indigenous incarceration goes across so many different areas of public policy," he said.
"It's health policy, it's youth policy, it's a suicide policy, is employment policy, its welfare policy, this is an incredibly complicated area and not all Indigenous experiences are the same.
"Indigenous Australians living in metropolitan areas have different life experiences to those living in regional and remote areas and so to suggest that there is one set of issues that applies to the Indigenous population is obviously ridiculous.
"And we are aware of the heartbreaking stories within remote Indigenous communities, of abuse, sexual violence, of alcoholism, of drug abuse. It's heartbreaking.
"You want to have an honest discussion about what's happening in communities, you can't ignore those for either and its chronic..
"This is a complex issue. There is no shortage of funds being thrown at this issue.
"But clearly the application of funds by governments over decades and decades and decades is not getting the results we want. I can assure you it's not through a lack of will, it's an admission of the complexity and the difficulty of the task."
JOBS AND BUSINESSES
Meanwhile, Mr Morrison refused to be drawn into the debate about "racist" television shows and movies being pulled from streaming services.
He said his main focus was getting the more than 800,000 Australians on JobSeeker back into work.
"I'm not interested in what they're showing on streaming services," he said.
"I'm interested in getting Australians back to work. I'm not interested in the debate on what people want to tear down.
"Honestly people - let's focus on what's really happening.
"You want to know where my focus is - on them! And the businesses that have closed and the livelihoods that have been destroyed.
"What you're watching on television is your business. Not going to create one job. Let's focus on where Australians are hurting today. And they really are hurting. And I will not be distracted."
Mr Morrison has confirmed the Federal Government is working to bring international students to Australia.
"On international students we'll be working closely on states and territories, firstly on a pilot basis, to enable, in a very controlled setting, for international students to be able to come to Australia but only on pre-approved plans for particular institutions worked up between federal authorities and state and territory authorities," he said.
"I'm not suggesting this is going to happen soon. There's still a lot of work to do and that needs to get in place. We've received some very, I think, well thought-through proposals from states as to how this can be done, particularly here in the ACT."