“You know, when those 12 ships turned up in Sydney, all those years ago, it wasn’t a particularly flash day for the people on those vessels either,” Mr Morrison said from Gladstone.
But the prime minister’s comments drew strong criticism from Labor and Greens.
Labor’s Indigenous Australians spokeswoman Linda Burney said Mr Morrison “should know better” and his comment “makes no sense”.
“As the leader of the country, he has an example to set for the rest of the nation,” Ms Burney said.
Greens First Nations spokeswoman Lidia Thorpe said Mr Morrison’s words were divisive.
“A person fit to lead this country would acknowledge this day for what it is – as a Day of Mourning.”
But today Mr Morrison said it was wrong for people to assume he was comparing the experience of First Fleet settlers to Indigenous peoples.
Speaking ahead of Australia Day, he said the heritage and experiences of all Australians should be valued and not become a source of competition.
“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. All stories should be respected,” Mr Morrison said.
“On Australia Day it is important to do that – understanding the loss, the gains, the successes, the failures, the hardships that were encountered. Australian stories are unique in this country.
“They’re not competing with each other. They’re just part of who we are.”
Yesterday Mr Morrison said the public holiday was not about the day the First Fleet arrived in Botany Bay in 1788, but about “how far we’ve come together since that day”.
“You can’t just airbrush things that have happened in the past,” he said.
“We are pretty up front about our past and the national apologies that have been put in place shows we are prepared to deal with our past.
“But more importantly we do not allow it to get in the way of our future.”
Protests have been planned around much of the country, with some banned due to coronavirus restrictions.
There are calls to change the date of Australia Day, while others argue it should be abolished entirely.
The teams will wear Indigenous art-inspired jerseys, with Sydney Thunder star Brendan Doggett, a proud descendent of the Worimi people from northern NSW, saying he hoped it sparked conversation among fans and helped the country move forward.
Mr Morrison, however, labelled the decision by Cricket Australia “ordinary”.
“I think a bit more focus on cricket, and a little less focus on politics would be my message to Cricket Australia,” he told radio 4RO.
“I think that’s pretty ordinary – that’s what they’re putting on their press releases – that would be my view.”
Source: 9News | World News