By Terri Butler MP

04 April 2022

SUBJECTS: Upcoming federal election, Ali France for Dickson, the Bruce Highway, Queensland election seats, National infrastructure, Labor’s plan for a strong economy, ALP Mean Girls accusations, Kimberly Kitching legacy.

PETER FEGAN HOST: Terri Butler is the federal Member for Griffith and the Shadow Minister for Water and the Environment. She joins me on the line. Terri, welcome to 4BC Drive.

TERRI BUTLER MP, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR GRIFFITH: Thanks, Peter. Thanks for having me.

FEGAN: Look, Albo was here on the weekend. And we know how important Queensland is in winning this election. If - the equation for Scott Morrison is quite simple. If he loses Queensland, he's out. Now, this is what Scott Morris-, this is what sorry, Anthony Albanese said on Neil Breen’s program this morning.

AUDIO GRAB - NEIL BREEN: Will Penny Wong, Kristina Keneally and Katy Gallagher all be in cabinet if you win?


FEGAN: And he also focused on the Bruce Highway, Terri Butler, our first question I want to ask you, and you might be able to give me a scoop here. If Labor does win, will you be on the front bench?

BUTLER: Oh, I certainly hope so Peter, I'm working very hard to make sure that's the case and that's certainly what Anthony has told people in a recent press conference. So I’m hoping that I can make that case. But of course, Peter, one of the great things about being in the Labor Party and being on the front bench at the moment is that we do have such a wealth of talent and it's, it's pretty nice to be kept on your toes knowing that we've got so many so many terrific people. We’ve got a deep bench you might say Peter.

FEGAN: Yeah, well look this- this morning, Anthony Albanese was talking about the Bruce Highway with the Premier, the Bruce Highway has obviously been a very contentious issue here in Queensland for so long. We've been promised it so many times, I’ll just play you some audio now of him talking about the Bruce Highway,

AUDIO GRAB - ANTHONY ALBANESE MP: I'll also be announcing an upgrade to the Bruce Highway. We'll be doing that in Dickson. Increasing it from eight lanes from Dohles Rocks Road to Anzac Avenue, really improving that congestion that occurs, particularly during the peaks in the South in the mornings and the evenings.

FEGAN: I’ve got to say Terri Butler I love how he's had to mention Dickson there. Obviously the seat of Peter Dutton. The Bruce Highway, Queenslanders is sick of hearing it are we actually going to see an upgrade if Labor gets in?

BUTLER: Look, no one loves infrastructure more that Anthony Albanese in my experience, he talks about it all the time in private and in public. And that's because he knows what infrastructure is. It's the way that we improve quality of life. When we improve local roads, we get people off the roads quicker and back home to their kids and back home to their families. And that's why it's so important to us that we do support infrastructure. And you've heard Anthony there saying he's going to make an announcement about Bruce Highway, and that he's going to do it in Dickson, as you say we mentioned Peter Dutton. We've got a terrific candidate there, Peter in Ali France, and I think she would be an awesome Member of Parliament. She's tough as nails, and she'll really deliver for that community.

FEGAN: Do you think she can win?

BUTLER: I certainly hope she can. She's working very hard. She's making a good run at it. And really, I think there's a sentiment in our state where people are ready for a change, they actually do want to see a change. They think this is a tired old government. It's been going for nearly a decade. And they want to see a bit of freshness and fresh faces and fresh ideas. And that's what Ali France can deliver in spades. And so that's the case with all of our other new candidates, too.

FEGAN: I touched on it earlier Queensland, it will most likely be the most important state for this election. 21 of 30 seats held by the Coalition here. It's a big job for Labor to win that. But of course, we've seen it swing before Queensland swings, it's notorious for swinging. What does Labor have to do, in your opinion, to win back voters here in Queensland? We don't want to talk - I mean, Bill Shorten, it was you know, it was the election that he was, he couldn't lose, but he lost Queensland. What does Labor have to do Terri Butler, to turn that around here in Queensland?

BUTLER: Well, you're absolutely right. We can never take anything for granted. And the fact is, we only have a handful of seats here in Queensland, mine’s one of them of course, we need to do better in Queensland, Anthony said that. And in fact, that's really it's really important to us that we do. And you can see that by the fact that Anthony's been here consistently, not just throughout this term as opposition leader, but throughout his time in the parliament. He's always in Queensland, he's here every five minutes, it seems like to me, we had a big campaign rally yesterday on the north side, even I went to the north side, which I don't do very often Peter, to show support, because we do know that we need to do better here. So what do we need to do better? We need people to understand what we really stand for and you can see that from Anthony and you can see that he stands for a better future for Australian families, childcare, Medicare, aged care. You can see that he stands for secure Australian jobs. And you can hear from what he says and what he believes in with the manufacturing here in Queensland and in Australia.

FEGAN: Just, just touching on that, how does Labor plan to pay for it? Especially in that age care sector, and we see that in the budget reply. He didn't mention much on cost of living plan for taxes. How is Labor planning to afford it’s promises? And will there be tax cuts or tax rises? He's not committed to saying that there'll be- that there won't be tax rises in the future.

BUTLER: Oh, he has actually committed Peter. He's been saying very clearly the only tax plans we have are in relation to multinationals paying their fair share. And I think most people actually want to see that.

FEGAN: But it's easy to pick on multinationals-

BUTLER: Well, I think most people want to see everyone paying, when it comes to those foreign companies that come into Australia and make money, I think people want to see them paying their fair share. And Anthony's been really clear, the only tax policy that we're talking about this election, that we're going to bring in, is in relation to multinationals paying their fair share. So he has been very clear. But on the question of how do we pay for these things, I was really interested. The aged care spend, for example, is much lower than some of the big spends that the government have made on defence that haven't actually yielded any defence assets, because they've been so slow in delivery, and they've done a poor job of procurement. The aged care spend is a reasonable amount of money because don't forget, it also saves money. When you don't have a situation where aged care residents are having to go to emergency departments or having to rely on acute health care, because we've got better quality and standard in aged care. The aged care spend, actually helps to make sure that people get nutrition, nutritional food in aged care. We're seeing some of the stories coming out of aged care of people not getting the nutrition that they need of actually starving. If you can fix that, then of course that will bring, not just bring up the quality of living for residents, but bring down the cost of the consequences of not getting enough nutrition. So we have said very clearly that we'll be putting out all of our costing towards the election. But this is a bigger question, right? And the question is this, what sort of society do we want to be? What sort of society do we want to be? And what sort of economy do we want to have? Do we want to have an economy where no one's held back, no one is left behind? And I think that Australians do want that. And just on the final point about how do you pay for these things. You pay for these things, you pay for your aged care system to be a decent one, your health care system to be a decent one, you pay for them by having a strong economy. And it's also by the way, how you pay for the trillion dollars of debt that the Morrison-Joyce government has racked up with not very much to show for it. How do we pay for it? We pay for it by growing the economy through a stronger economy. That's how you grow out and you pay for the things that you need to pay for to have a better society and a stronger economy. Because all those things I was talking about, you know, if we can have strong secure jobs, if we can be a country that makes things here, a future made in Australia, these are not just empty principles. They're strong commitments to more manufacturing here, whether it's through the National Reconstruction Fund, whether it's through more skills and more training, skills and training, like our fee free places for TAFE, hundreds of thousands of fee free places for TAFE. If we can get the job security in place so that people will actually feel secure going and spending a bit of money. If you can do all of those things, you can grow the economy and that's not about tax policy. That's about, having a strong economy means that we can afford to pay for the things that we need to make the society decent.

FEGAN: Joining me on the line is the federal Member for Griffith Terri Butler, Labor's Terri Butler. She's also the Shadow Minister for Water and the Environment and if Anthony Albanese wins- wins the election, she will most likely be on the front bench. Let's talk about the mean girls, the mean girls of Labor. Albo was talking to Breeny this morning. I’ve just got a little bit of audio we'll play that.

AUDIO GRAB - NEIL BREEN: Will Penny Wong, Kristina Keneally and Katy Gallagher all be in cabinet if you win?


FEGAN: There you go. That's he's confirmed that, I just want to talk about the mean girls, I know that has been put to you plenty of times to Terri Butler. I know that Anthony Albanese has been, you know, talking about it now for over a week or nearly two weeks. Is there a cultural issue within Labor, especially with women and have you ever felt it or been a victim of it?

BUTLER: No, absolutely not. And look, I think you're to say this has been put to us on multiple occasions. And it's very interesting to me, how many has been put to us. Because the fact is, it seems to rest on someone being removed from a tactics committee. And look, you know, the thing about politics, we've had people removed from the tactics committee in the House, but no one's ever called Anthony a mean boy over that have they. So you have to wonder why people are thinking that this removal of someone from a tactics committee means that someone's a mean girl. I mean, it just that sort of language in 2022 is a bit ridiculous.

FEGAN: So, you're playing it down. It's never happened.

BUTLER: No, no, it's not. That's not a play down, it's just a fact. That if people are trying to go out and blow up the removal of someone from a tactics committee, into some sort of cultural issue. Why are those same people not looking at what has been said about this government and about the Morrison-Joyce, government? I mean, we've had all sorts of allegations coming out about them in recent weeks and longer. I think it's very important that all of us as a community, talk about what's important for workplaces. I absolutely think that, and I think that the parliament should be a model workplace. But I do think it would be a bit unfortunate if those really serious issues of culture, start getting conflated with the ordinary cut and thrust of politics. Having said all that, I've said very clearly and I'll say it again. I think it's been almost incredibly sad to see what actually kicked this off. Almost lost in this discussion, which is the tragic loss of someone who was a Senator for Victoria, who was a Member of the Australian Parliament, who had done so much good work in her capacity as a senator. I think that's got a bit lost in this because actually, there's a human side to politics as well. And when tragedies like that get parlayed into this kind of political discussion about, you know, processes of Parliament, you almost lose the humanity of the person a little bit. And I think that would be a shame because we really did see some pretty incredible tributes to her last week in the Parliament, I think that shouldn't be lost in the theatre.

FEGAN: Well said Terri Butler, I really appreciate you coming on the drive we know that you’ll be, you will be campaigning very hard with Anthony Albanese over the next two months. We expect an election, I'd say on the 14th of May. We always say this: good luck, and of course we'll talk through the year.

BUTLER: Thanks, Peter.