I'm glad to be able to rise and talk on this MPI today. I do so not out of partisanship but out of a deep sense that people in my electorate have been left behind by this government. I ask you to consider whether, over the last three years of the Morrison government or the last near-decade of the coalition government, your life has become better.
I put a Facebook post up yesterday asking people in my community what the biggest issues were for them. Maybe I should've expected it, but I was shocked by the number of my constituents that engaged with me, begging me to raise their issues. Literally hundreds and hundreds of comments came flooding in. Most of the concerns were not a surprise to me. In the 18 months since I was elected I've travelled over 80,000 kilometres in my car visiting towns and villages across Eden-Monaro. Everywhere I go—every town, every village, every cafe and even the supermarket when I'm in there—people stop and ask what we can do to get this government to act. There is a feeling among people that they are being abandoned at worst or ignored at best. People look to government for leadership, for assistance, to know that they have the backs of average Australians. Instead of deferring and deflecting, it's time to get on with it because there are big issues facing our communities and our nation.
We spent almost all of yesterday, last night and the early hours of this morning debating the Morrison government's flawed Religious Discrimination Bill. My colleagues and I fought tooth and nail to make sure that vulnerable children were adequately protected. But the questions my constituents ask are: Why was the government more focused on this obviously flawed bill than on a federal integrity commission? Why is Scott Morrison prioritising this bill over dealing with the housing crisis, when people across the country are being forced out of rentals, facing homelessness and can't afford a roof over their heads? Why isn't this government fixing the mess that is aged care? A royal commission report titled Neglect took two years and cost $104 million, and not a single recommendation has been implemented. The most vulnerable people in our community, our parents and grandparents, are suffering pain and indignity for one reason: this government led by this Prime Minister won't do its job. It would rather create a distraction than address the issues.
In April last year, the government announced a $280 million funding round under the Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Grants program. Community groups, organisations and councils were encouraged to apply. The initial timeline indicated they'd have an answer to that application in November or December. Lo and behold, we're in February with no outcomes. Communities are left in the dark about whether those projects will even proceed, and this looks like it's timed to coincide with an election campaign. Whilst this government continues to delay this funding, bushfire survivors and affected communities are the ones that miss out.
You won't hear of that. You'll be told that there's plenty of money that has gone to bushfire affected communities. But the lived experience on the ground is very, very different. The Prime Minister should've done more than show up for a photo-op. He should've listened to those people directly impacted on the ground in bushfire areas, and he shouldn't have walked away from an opportunity to hear from the people affected about what they needed most from this government.
So let me tell you what those in Eden-Monaro are asking for. They want better support for bushfire survivors. They want money spent on mitigation and resilience measures so we are better prepared for our next natural disaster. They want affordable housing and more public housing across the region. They want a federal integrity commission. They want better staff ratios in aged care and better conditions for older Australians. They want the government to deal with issues like staffing and skills shortages that are ravaging our businesses. They want a future made in Australia, where manufacturing is brought back onshore and we become a more self-reliant nation. More than anything, they want a Prime Minister and a government that will just do its job. I think it's time that people got what they asked for.