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Bill Shorten Launches Terri Butler’s ALP Campaign For Griffith By-Election

Bill Shorten has launched the ALP’s campaign for the Griffith by-election with a speech that focussed on the performance of the Abbott and Newman governments.

Bill Shorten launches the ALP by-election campaign in Griffith

Shorten said Griffith needed “a local champion on the national stage”. He said the Abbott government “came to power saying health and education were safe” but now says through its Commission of Audit everything “is on the table”.

Shorten said the Abbott government “isn’t interested in fighting for jobs”, has taken money from child care workers and aged care workers and “prefers secrecy to scrutiny”. He said the proposed $6 Medicare co-payment is “just the beginning”.

  • Listen to the Welcome to Country (6m)
  • Listen to Shorten’s speech (13m)
  • Listen to Butler’s speech (14m)


Prepared transcript of Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s speech at the launch of the ALP’s campaign for Terri Butler in the Griffith by-election.

It’s been great to spend the last few days with Terri here in Griffith.

This electorate, with its hard-working families, great public schools and powerful sense of community spirit – exemplified by the way people came together to help their neighbours during the floods in 2011 – captures so much of what is great about Queensland and Australia.

And it was obvious to me from our very first hour on the campaign trail together what a great candidate Terri is.

An accomplished lawyer who has dedicated her career to fighting for the rights of others.

A loving wife to Troy, and the proud Mum of April and Isaac.

Terri is a candidate whose experience as a community advocate is matched by her experience as a working Mum.
She knows what it’s like to stand up to the powerful on behalf of the vulnerable.

And she knows what it’s like to sit at the kitchen table with a stack of bills and balance the family budget.

In the last week, Terri and I have had the chance to meet a great many people here on the Southside.

We’ve listened to their concerns and heard what they think this by-election is all about.

And the same messages have come through loud and clear.

The people of Griffith are worried about an Abbott-Newman-Glasson team making more savage job cuts.

You’ve seen what the Newman Government did with its Commission of Audit.

And you’re worried about an Abbott Government that came to power saying health and education were safe.

And now, through its new Commission of Audit, is saying that nothing is a ‘no-go’ and everything is ‘on the table’.

The voters here have got their first look at a government that isn’t interested in fighting for good jobs.

A government that jumped at the chance to take money from child care workers and aged care workers.

A government that prefers secrecy to scrutiny.

A government that promised ‘no surprises and no excuses’ but has delivered nothing but nasty surprises and pathetic excuses.

A government that said the National Disability Insurance Scheme was ‘above politics’, but has now started talking about privatising the NDIS and watering down launch sites to mere ‘trials’.

That’s not good enough – and when Terri and I sat down with local mum Louise Kelly and her son Freddie on Monday, we assured them that Labor will fight to make sure that Freddie, and every boy and girl like him, gets the right support.

Support that doesn’t pigeonhole him as a child with autism – but as a young Australian who deserves to grow up with a great education, a good job and a happy life.

The people of Griffith, like the people of Australia, have discovered how deeply cynical Tony Abbott and Christopher Pyne really are.

Before the election they claimed to be on a ‘Unity Ticket’ with Labor on school funding.

Yet after the election, they decided to cut and change whatever they thought they could get away with.

But most of all, the people of Griffith are concerned about this new government tampering with Medicare.

They are right to be concerned.

Because it is not fair to be hit with a GP tax every time they have to take a sick child or an elderly parent to the doctor.

And they’re worried that the introduction of a $6 fee is just the beginning.

They are right to be worried.

Because they’ve seen this before from the LNP.

Like when Campbell Newman promised Queensland Public Servants that they had nothing to fear.

Then, hiding behind his unelected, unaccountable Commission of Audit, he sacked almost 20,000 Queenslanders.

Nurses, teachers and hard-working state public servants.

Campbell Newman cut $3 billion from health and hospitals.

Cuts that have closed wards at PA Hospital and Biala – Brisbane’s only free sexual health clinic.

The Newman Government’s petty, narrow ideology has laid waste to the arts sector.

Stripping funding from

  • The Premier’s Literary Awards
  • The Queensland Youth Orchestra
  • And Youth Arts Queensland

With no thought to future population growth – and with no understanding of the value of education – they have sold off school land here in Griffith:

  • The School of Distance Education site in Montague Road.
  • The Open Learning Building in Peel Street
  • The Disability Support Education site in Park Road.

You can’t undo short-sighted sales like this.

And whatever price they fetch will never be high enough.

Because when these public assets are gone, they are gone for good.

Because the LNP know the price of everything and the value of nothing, they wanted to go further.

But Kevin Rudd and the people of Griffith stepped in to save local school ovals.

And because they are a Liberal National Government, they have ripped money away from the community sector.

Striking at the organisations that work with most vulnerable members of our society.
What did:

  • The Tenant Advice and Advocacy Service in the West End
  • Youth Advocacy Network – the peak organisation for young people in Queensland
  • Speaking Up for You – a leading advocacy organisation for people with disabilities
  • And Sisters Inside who work to rehabilitate prisoners

ever do to the LNP to be punished like this?

All of us in the Labor Party have a fundamental objection to this kind of slash-and-burn economics.

We don’t think believe in cutting our way to growth.

We don’t believe in tearing people down to build a budget up.

We don’t believe that government is about choosing between a strong economy and a good society.

We believe the role of government is to build a strong economy in order to support a good society.

But our reason for opposing the scorched-earth policies of the Conservatives goes beyond our values.

We don’t just oppose their cuts because they are cowardly and unfair.

We oppose them because they don’t work.

They never have – and they never will.

Because after 20 months of the Newman Government, we’ve seen the axe fall on full-time work.

And in the four months of the Abbott Government, 50,000 full-time jobs have been lost.

Nearly 5000 of them here in Queensland.

I talk about Campbell Newman’s cuts because I fear that what the people of Queensland have endured since 2012 is just the entrée.

Just a taste of what Abbott and Hockey have in mind for the Australian people.

After all, as soon as Campbell Newman began his war on Queensland’s hospitals and its community sector.

As soon as he started his attack on the sick and the vulnerable.

Joe Hockey praised him for his ‘incredible courage’.

And Tony Abbott, said he would like to run the same kind of ‘slimmer’ government in Canberra.

That’s why this by-election is so important.

Because the people of Griffith can’t afford to elect a rubber-stamp for the cruel cuts of the Abbott Government.

Someone who will give the tick of approval to new attacks on the cost-of-living and our way of life.

The LNP candidate didn’t speak out against Campbell Newman’s cuts here on the Southside.

And nothing will change when Tony Abbott starts cutting from Canberra.

Friends, we all know that this by-election is going to be very close.

We all know that the LNP have spent a lot of money in this seat – and bought a lot of billboards.

But their money is no match for your passion.

And their glossy pamphlets are no substitute for your energy.

Because you are the best advertisement for the Labor cause.

Your ability to reach out and spread the word will be the difference on the 8th of February.

So today, and every day, until polling day, I’m asking you to tell this story.

Face to face. Neighbour to neighbour.

Let your friends and family and colleagues and fellow commuters know that only Labor can be counted on to protect Medicare as we know it – free and universal.

Let your friends and family and colleagues and fellow commuters know there’s only one party that cares about keeping people in work.

Only Labor is committed to keeping hospital wards open and supporting the community sector.

Tell your friends and family and colleagues and fellow commuters that there’s only one candidate who will be a strong voice for the real needs of the people of the Southside.

And it’s my privilege to introduce her now.

A proud Queenslander, a working Mum, a woman who has given her life to standing up for others.

Friends, please welcome your new local member – Terri Butler.

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Malcolm Farnsworth
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