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‘We’ve had issues in our history’: PM waters down slavery comments

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has watered down comments he made about there being no slavery in Australian by acknowledging “all sorts of hideous practices took place” against Indigenous Australians.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has watered down comments he made about there being no slavery in Australian by acknowledging "all sorts of hideous practices took place" against Indigenous Australians.

Mr Morrison acknowledged the plight of Indigenous Australians in a somewhat charged question and answer session following today's National Cabinet press conference in Canberra.

His comments come one day after he told Sydney radio station 2GB Radio there was no slavery in Australia. Mr Morrison made the remark in response to questions about the removal of statues such as Captain James Cook.

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"I'm not denying any of that. Okay, I'm not denying any of that," the prime minister said in response to a line of questioning about Indigenous policy, incarceration and funding.

"I don't think it's helpful to go into an endless history discussion about this. It's all recorded."

Instead, Mr Morrison expressed what he believed to be the challenges of Indigenous incarceration across many areas of public policy.

"It's health policy, it's youth policy, it's suicide policy, it's employment policy, it's welfare policy," he said.

"This is an incredibly complicated area and not all Indigenous experiences are the same.

"Indigenous Australians 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.

Scott Morrison speaks in Canberra after today's National Cabinet meeting.

"We are aware of the heartbreaking stories within remote Indigenous communities, of drug abuse. It's heartbreaking but it's true. You want to have an honest discussion about what's happening in communities, you can't ignore those either and it's chronic."

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Mr Morrison said in terms of funding for indigenous Australians there is "no shortage of funds being thrown at this issue".

"Clearly the application of funds by governments over decades and decades is not getting the results we want. I can assure you it's not through a lack of will."

Mr Morrison was also asked about streaming services removing Chris Lilley's shows and Gone with the Wind due to racist depictions.

"I'm worried about jobs. I'm worried about 800,000 Australians going on to JobSeeker in the last three months. 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. I'm interested in what people want to build up, and what we want to build back up are businesses and jobs and we need to restore livelihoods and lives.

"Honestly people - let's focus on what's really happening. 800,000 extra people are on JobSeeker in the last few months.

"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."

Source: 9News

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