Social media and politicians from outside the Coalition camp have labelled Prime Minister Tony Abbott's "nothing but bush" comments about Australia before European arrival as disrespectful.
Tony Abbott was criticised today after comments about European colonists thinking Australia must have been “basic and raw”, without referring to the Australia’s first peoples.
“As we look around this glorious city, as we see the extraordinary development, it’s hard to think that back in 1788 it was nothing but bush and that the marines and the convicts and the sailors that straggled off those 12 ships just a few hundred yards from where we are now must have thought they’d come almost to the moon,” Mr Abbott said.
The PM was speaking about development at an infrastructure breakfast with British Prime Minister David Cameron in Sydney.
The speech made no mention of Australia’s first peoples or their contributions to Australia.
Following the comments social media users reacted with anger.
Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Shayne Neumann, said the Prime Minster’s comments were disrespectful, and he should apologise.
Western Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said the Prime Minister had ignored the peoples and cultures that existed before European settlement.
"The Prime Minister's ‘nothing but bush' comments once again ignore the fact that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have been in Australia for many tens of thousands of years, and that British settlement began a process of discrimination and dispossession,” Senator Siewert said.
The SBS has sought comment from the government's Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion and the Prime Minister's office.