• Prime Minister Scott Morrison, (AAP)Source: AAP
Shadow Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney says the Prime Minister should refrain from making "such stupid, intemperate comments" if he wishes to improve reconciliation.
Jodan Perry

23 Jan 2021 - 2:11 PM  UPDATED 23 Jan 2021 - 4:56 PM

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has continued to come under fire for saying January 26 wasn't a 'flash day' for the First Fleet, despite denying he was equating their experiences with those of First Nations peoples on settlement.

The comments drew significant backlash after he made them at a press conference on Thursday, and on Friday he attempted to walk them back, saying "all stories should be respected."

"Australia is more than 25 million stories. More than 25 million. Each of us can trace our stories back into our own Australia, Indigenous Australia, First Nations Australia. All the stories are important," he said.

"They're not competing with each other. They're just part of who we are."

But Shadow Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney insisted he refrain from making "such stupid, intemperate comments" in the first place.

"It's not appropriate, and I actually think it's the Prime Minister playing politics, not anyone else. And there is no competition on suffering. It is just wrong," she told ABC News Breakfast on Saturday.

"He had his historical facts wrong. There were actually 11 ships in the First Fleet, not 12. I think six of them were convict ships.

"If the Prime Minister really wants to improve reconciliation in Australia, he would desist from making such stupid, intemperate comments like the one he has made. There is no competition on suffering."

It's not the first time the Prime Minister has been in the firing line for commenting on historical events. In June 2020 he apologised after suggesting there was no slavery in Australia, acknowledging that 'all sorts of hideous practices' occurred since first contact.

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Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe, who stresses the importance of truth-telling on January 26, said Mr Morrison's comments are "deeply offensive."

“A person fit to lead this country would acknowledge this day for what it is - as a Day of Mourning," she said.

“Maybe the colonising First Fleet did feel sick on the boat over here. I can tell you that we feel sick to think that 26 January is a day that the leaders of this country should choose as the national day of celebration. For First Nations people, it’s like dancing on the graves of our ancestors. 

“How disrespectful. How appalling - how deeply offensive."

NITV News reached out to Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt for his thoughts on Mr Morrison's comments. He responded with a statement, which said in part

"This Australia Day we should reflect, respect and celebrate the Australian journey. It is a journey more than 65,000 years in the making with achievements that make us proud and moments of success that should be celebrated.

"It is also a journey that for some is difficult, it is raw, and it does hurt in parts – but rather than shy away from this, or dismiss our success, we should come together as one."