Statement of Thanks and Appreciation

Statement of Thanks and Appreciation Main Image

By Terri Butler

30 November 2022

Serving as a Member of Parliament is a privilege and a great responsibility. Having been elected on three occasions, initially at a by-election, and then subsequently at two general elections, I was unsuccessful on the fourth occasion on which I stood. I wish my community well as we face the challenges to come. 

I held executive positions in the Opposition from my second year in office, 2015, when I was appointed as a shadow parliamentary secretary. I was subsequently appointed as a shadow minister and then as a shadow cabinet minister. It was always a challenge to meet the demands of undertaking this work well, while always ensuring that my electorate responsibilities came first, and also while trying to be a good mother, wife, daughter, and friend. 

Public office comes with sacrifices, voluntarily assumed by a candidate, but often not by their children. My children were two and four when I was first elected. I often thought about how they felt, and would feel, in the future, about my time away from them – in Canberra during sittings, elsewhere for portfolio and committee work, and at home, where, after returning from travel, I would turn around and walk back out the door to attend community events and make myself available to constituents. I am always comforted by a photograph I have of them, as little kids, with my mother, watching the broadcast of parliament on the day we changed the law to effect marriage equality. That photograph gives me hope that notwithstanding the sacrifices they made while very young, they will believe there is value in holding public office, and in service to the community. 

The best motivation for entering public life is duty. I was disappointed that I did not get the chance to serve the nation as a minister in the Albanese Labor government. At the same time, although I am glad to have had the opportunity to serve as an MP, I am also grateful to have been relieved of that responsibility. Losing a seat means gaining a private life, and time with the people who matter most. 

Griffith has been a difficult seat for Labor to hold. It was difficult when Kevin Rudd was the Member, and at his last general election he held it only by a few thousand votes. Most Labor people did not expect us to hold the seat after he left the parliament, let alone to hold it and then win it back at subsequent elections. The fact that we were able to do so is testament to the hard work and support of countless people. I thank them all.

Thank you to the constituents of the Griffith electorate for your support and your engagement. It was terrific to get to know so many people in our community.

Thank you to the schools, kindies, churches, seniors groups, multicultural groups, service clubs, RSL sub-branches, volunteer organisations, residents’ groups, neighbourhood watches, guides and scouts, and other community groups who engaged with me and my office, and who worked hard to help the community pull together when times were difficult. Thank you to everyone who created opportunities for community-building and social cohesion. You are valued.

To those civil society groups based in the electorate, thank you for everything you do to care for those who are vulnerable, in danger, or sick.

We are fortunate in Griffith to be the home of many elite, community and grassroots arts, cultural, sporting and media organisations, all of which are adding richness and joy to the lives of locals, and many of which are having an impact nationally and even internationally. I thank all of those who worked with me over the years. 

I thank the Labor party – members, affiliated unions, and leaders of the administrative and parliamentary wings – for selecting me as a candidate on four occasions. 

I have been part of the labour movement for a very long time, and always will be. I particularly want to thank the many Queensland and national unions that have supported me over many years. I also want to thank my former colleagues at Maurice Blackburn for their support for me over many years. 

I thank each of my campaign directors and each person who served on Griffith Labor campaign committees since 2013. I am also grateful to every delegate to the Griffith FEC, particularly those in the executive. I thank our national secretary and his staff in the ALP national secretariat, as well as all at the Queensland office, for their support. 

I thank everyone who volunteered. We doorknocked, letterboxed, phone canvassed, street stalled, put up signs, held fundraisers, staffed polling booths, and much more. This takes a lot of people and everyone’s contributions were valued. Thank you. Thanks also to everyone who bought a raffle ticket, came to a fundraising BBQ or event, or made a donation to our campaigns, and to everyone who organised our fundraising.

My thanks to every member of the FPLP whom I served alongside. You couldn’t hope to find a better group of people. Thank you also to those former Labor Prime Ministers and Ministers who were such an inspiration and a source of support.

My particular thanks to the Leaders and their fellow members of the leadership team, as constituted over the years, for their support. Thanks also to the manager of opposition business, as he then was, and his deputy, for including me in some of their work. I am also grateful to each shadow cabinet minister with whom I worked when I was in the shadow outer ministry. Most of all, I am grateful to my friends in the caucus for their political and personal support.

Without women’s voices in politics, women’s interests will not be sufficiently reflected in public policy. I am delighted to see so many women in the Albanese cabinet and in the Labor caucus. I thank all of them for standing, all women who supported me (whether in caucus or in the broader movement), and Emily’s List.

I thank each person who was part of my staff over the years. I am grateful to all of them for the sacrifices they made in the name of public service, particularly during difficult times such as during the pandemic, during the 2022 floods, and, earlier, in the wake of the 2014 supercell.  I am also grateful to those who served in my office through university internships. I have benefited greatly from being able to work with such wonderful staff and interns and I am proud of their achievements since leaving my office. 

I am grateful to the entire Labor staffing corps for their friendship and support. Being a political staffer is an extraordinary job with extraordinary demands, and Labor has been fortunate to be able to attract some of the smartest, toughest, and best people in the country to the staffing corps. 

I am grateful to past and present state Labor MPs, and Labor councillors, who served in areas overlapping the electorate of Griffith during my time in office. I am also very grateful to Labor MPs and councillors, past and present, across the country, with whom I have built friendships over the years. Thank you for the work that you do, and thank you for your support. 

I am grateful to members of the parliament from outside the Labor caucus with whom I was able to work on projects of common interest notwithstanding our different values. I also thank the members of the press gallery, past and present, and Australia’s news and political media more broadly, for their important work. It’s a tough job, getting tougher. 

I thank the Clerk of the House and all House of Representatives, DPS and Department of Finance staff and contractors for their assistance over the years. Thank you also to the Australian Federal Police and local police. I am also grateful to local small businesses, national firms, and other suppliers, for their work.

I engaged with many stakeholders, across many different sectors and interests, from industry, civil society, academia, diplomacy, and beyond. Thank you to every stakeholder who engaged constructively and respectfully. 

A special thanks to those staff and friends who helped clean out my offices in the wake of the election. 

I thank my friends for supporting me, and, for many of them, tolerating my prolonged absence from their lives. I hope I can be as good a friend to them as they have been to me. 

I thank my family, most of all. My parents, my sister and her family, my parents-in-law, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, the Duncans, my children, my husband, and our extended families have all been a great support throughout my time in office.  

Tabled in the House of Representatives, Australian Parliament, 30 November 2022