I rise this evening to speak about aged care and the state of the aged-care sector in this country. Under the leadership of the Morrison government, it's now at crisis point.
It's in crisis because of an inept and incompetent government. Mr Morrison is still denying and still trying to run away from the cuts he made when he had the responsibility of being Treasurer of our country. If I looked up the definition of 'desperate' in the dictionary, I would read: 'Prime Minister Morrison'. He is so desperate he will do and say anything to hang onto his job. Mr Morrison, there's no running away from the record of cuts and chaos now.
Just last week we found out that the Minister for Aged Care, Mr Wyatt, had been sitting on information confirming the devastating impact of the Morrison government's aged-care cuts. This information sat on Mr Wyatt's desk as he repeatedly denied that Mr Morrison's cuts had had any impact on the aged-care sector. How can anyone trust Mr Morrison and the Liberals to ensure older Australians get the aged-care services that they need when they can't even get honesty from this government?
This is a government that likes to pretend they're doing more than what they are actually doing. They're all smoke and mirrors. A case in point is the government's aged-care funding and home care packages announcement over the weekend. After five years of being in office, after years of cuts, after billions of dollars have been cut from the aged-care sector, it's just too little, too late. On the eve of the beginning of the aged-care royal commission, with a federal election looming, somehow they have suddenly found a conscience and funding, but I don't believe that older Australians or their families are going be fooled. They're not going to be fooled into believing that Mr Morrison has suddenly got a conscience and cares about older Australians when he has been himself responsible for ripping billions of dollars out of the aged-care system. The government's announcement over the weekend isn't even half of Mr Morrison's aged-care cuts that he made as Treasurer.
I would like to now turn to speak about the fires in Tasmania, my home state. I would like to put on record how much I've appreciated and respected the way that all Tasmanians have pulled together in combating these terrible, devastating fires since December last year. We know that most of those fires are under control, but we must remember there are still 20 fires continuing to burn. These fires have had a devastating and destructive impact on our World Heritage areas, local communities, infrastructure, agriculture and farming industries, natural environment, tourism industry and small businesses. My heart goes out to all those who have been impacted by the fires, but we have been fortunate that we haven't lost too many homes—one home, in fact, is too many. I'd also like to thank and to put on record my thanks for the extraordinary and unwavering efforts of all the emergency personnel, our firefighters, our SES volunteers, those employers who have allowed our SES volunteers to participate and those people who have rallied around the evacuation centres. I want to say thank you. My fellow Tasmanians, as always, pulled together in a time of crisis. To all of those who have fought and are still fighting the fires from the ground to the skies, I say thank you. To all the 175 amazing volunteers who have come to our aid from not only interstate but overseas, I say thank you. I know I thank you on behalf of all Tasmanian senators who sit in this chamber.
I'd also like to thank the Prime Minister for his taking the time to come and visit our state during this crisis. But I'd also like to put on record my appreciation for Bill Shorten in visiting our state during this time of crisis, taking the time to go down to the Huon Valley and to be there with my colleagues Julie Collins, from the other place, and Senator Catryna Bilyk. I'd also like to associate myself with the comments earlier today by Senator Bilyk in her statement in relation to our fires.
As Mr Shorten said in the other place:
We are all grateful and humbled by the spirit of our people, and we're humbled by their courage.
Tomorrow, there will be a motion moved in this Senate on behalf of all Tasmanian senators and I'm sure that it will be overwhelmingly supported by the chamber. Thank you. (Time expired)
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