“My comments were not intended to give offense, and if they did, I deeply regret that and apologize for that,” he said, adding that he was a passionate advocate for the rights of Indigenous Australians.
“I was simply trying to make point that Australia, yes, we have had issues in our history, we have acknowledged them, I have acknowledged them, and we need to address them.”
“My forefathers and foremothers were on the First and Second Fleets (of convict settlers). It was a pretty brutal place, but there was no slavery in Australia,” Morrison said in the interview Thursday.
With more protests planned for the coming weeks, Morrison warned the public on Friday against attending upcoming rallies in support of racial equality, saying attendance went against health advice due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“This is not about the issue, this is about people’s health and welfare and I would urge Australians to respect that by not attending those events,” Morrison said. “I don’t believe there should be a double standard. Australians have made great sacrifices to get us where we are today.”
On Thursday, the New South Wales Supreme Court issued an injunction banning a Sydney march scheduled for Saturday on health grounds and due to lockdown measures.
Another protest is scheduled for Sydney on Friday, called “Stop Black Deaths in Custody: Solidarity with Long Bay Prisoners.” The organization’s event page currently shows more than a thousand people have signaled their intention to attend.
There is no injunction against Friday’s protest, but social distancing rules in the state cap the number of people allowed to gather outdoors together at 10. The limit is expected to increase to 20 people starting Saturday.