Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has broken his silence on the Grace Tame controversy, suggesting she's had "a terrible life" but that he will always greet guests with a smile.
In his first interview outlining his reaction to the now viral images of Tame at the Lodge on Australia Day, Morrison also suggested that the day was supposed to be about this year's finalists, implying the furore had overshadowed that.
During an interview on 4BC, Morrison was asked: "Did yourself and your wife Jenny feel disrespected?"
He did not deny he felt disrespected but noted he had greeted Tame with civility.
"I've seen all of that. Anyone comes to our home, when we invite somebody, we greet them with a smile, and they're always welcome,'' Morrison said.
Unprompted, the Prime Minister then noted that the focus of the day was supposed to be about this year's finalists, not Tame.
"And that day, that day was actually about all the finalists coming to celebrate,'' he said.
"And the previous Australians of the Year were there. Jenny and I were there and that day was all about them.
"All I'm saying is we were there that day to celebrate those who've done an incredible job for our country. And Jenny and I wanted to welcome them into our home and wish them all the best.
Morrison then suggested Tame had experienced great difficulties.
"Look, Grace is a passionate person who's raised important issues. She's had a terrible life, terrible things happened to her," he said.
"It's just awful. And I know a lot of Australians, me included, and I 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.
"So I thank her for her time as Australian of the Year and, as I say, when people come to our house, Jenny and I always greet them with a smile."