Prime Minister Scott Morrison has addressed those viral photos from his meeting with Grace Tame in Canberra earlier this week.
The PM was asked about the situation on Australia Day but, at the time, brushed off questions by saying he wanted to keep the focus on those receiving their citizenship.
The PM was once again asked about the photos during a brief appearance on Brisbane radio station 4BC earlier this morning.
Here’s what Mr Morrison had to say:
When anyone comes to our home, when Jenny and I invite someone to our home, we greet them with a smile and they’re always welcome.
That day was actually about all the [Australian of the Year] finalists that came to celebrate. That day was all about them.
I have not raised any issues about this. All I am saying is we were there that day to celebrate those who have done an incredible job for our country and Jenny and I wanted to welcome them into our home and wish them all the best.
Grace is a passionate person who’s raised important issues. She’s had terrible things happen to her. The abuse it’s just awful. I know a lot of Australians, me included, support her efforts to ensure that these issues can be raised and addressed.
Our government has done more than any other government on this issue and that is, in part, because of the strong focus that has been brought to these issues and the response that we’ve made.
So I thank her for her time as Australian of the Year and, as I say, if people come to our house Jenny and I always greet them with a smile.
Earlier this morning, Environment Minister Sussan Ley described Ms Tame as a “force of nature” and a “leader for many women across Australia”.
However, she added that “people can speak their mind as they see fit” when asked whether it was wrong for some of her colleagues to suggest Ms Tame was being childish and immature when she declined to smile alongside the PM.
“The Prime Minister has done more for the issues of women than any other prime minister I have ever worked for,” Ms Ley told ABC TV.
“The changes we have seen in Parliament House this year have been extraordinary. Independent complaint mechanisms, a whole new culture being built. I’m really proud as a female member of Parliament that we are all playing our part in that. ”