Transcript - ABC Radio Brisbane Drive with Steve Austin

By Terri Butler MP

28 January 2021

Topics: Shadow Cabinet reshuffle; Mark Butler; Richard Marles; Jobs, Jobs, Jobs; Scott Morrison is bad for Queensland; COVID -19; Vaccines; Federal Labor Queensland Team; JobKeeper; Climate Change; Samuel Review; Photo op, follow up; Renewables; Gas; Manufacturing. 

STEVE AUSTIN, HOST: If you're just leaving the office or work or you’ve got home, the news is that Federal Labor has had a cabinet reshuffle, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has announced his new look Shadow Cabinet. The changes include moving Mark Butler from the climate change and energy portfolio to health. It comes after some backbenchers raised concerns about the party's climate change policies, with concerns that Labor was ignoring voters in regional electorates. Joining me in the studio is Terri Butler, Queensland Federal Labor MP, she retains the portfolio of environment and water. Terri Butler, did you want to stay in that portfolio?

TERRI BUTLER, SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND WATER:  I certainly did. I was quite delighted to be able to retain the shadow ministry for environment and water. Because it is so important that we get those portfolios right and in environment, the government has actually just today released the final report from the Samuel Review the independent review of the environment laws, and it is very clear, there is a lot to be done. The environment laws aren't currently working for Australians or for nature.

AUSTIN: Why was the reshuffle needed?

BUTLER: Well, the reshuffle, of course has been coming a long time it was initially kicked off because of Mathias Cormann, announcing that he was leaving the Senate to pursue his job, what he hopes will be his job of course, the OECD, so Anthony mentioned..

AUSTIN: Does he not have it? Is it not sought.. is it not a done deal yet?

BUTLER: Look, I don't think it is, although I have to admit that I don't follow the intricacies of OECD politics. But Anthony at the time so that we would have a reshuffle. And I think he's done the right thing in really thinking through how best to make sure that we can have the best possible team. And, you know, I think the biggest change has actually been in the deputy leadership. It's not getting as much of the news. But Richard, who's the deputy leader has gone from.

AUSTIN: Richard Marles.

BUTLER: Richard Marles, has gone from being the Shadow Minister for Defence and incredibly important portfolio, of course, but into a much more economic portfolio. And that is all about jobs, jobs, jobs. So, national reconstruction, small business employment skills, all incredibly important for us. As we move out of the COVID pandemic, we at least hope that we're moving out of the COVID pandemic and into reconstruction. This is an opportunity for us to really focus on what Australians really need, and that's a focus on jobs.

AUSTIN: My guest is Terri Butler, Federal Labor Member for Griffith here in Queensland. She's the Shadow Minister for the Environment and Water. Is Anthony Albanese’s leadership secure?

BUTLER: It is absolutely secure. And one of the reasons it's so secure is because there's such a contrast between him and Scott Morrison.  Scott Morrison is actually bad for Queensland, whereas Anthony is looking at the things that really matter to us.

AUSTIN: How is Scott Morrison bad for Queensland?

BUTLER: Because everywhere he goes, he is actually making people less certain about the future. I was in Cairns, two weeks ago. And there is so much uncertainty, it's my hometown, Steve. 

AUSTIN: You were born there, yes you were born there. 

BUTLER: But there is so much uncertainty about tourism. And the government has been really, really slow to give people security and certainty in relation to JobKeeper, in relation to the future of wage subsidies. People are concerned about that. People are concerned about what's happening with vaccines and what's going to happen with the public response, health response in relation to COVID. Whereas with Anthony, you've got someone who's always focused on what the economy needs and what's important for jobs and for working Australians.

AUSTIN: It's not your area, I know , but we're going to talk vaccines in a minute with someone who says Australia should have cast a wider net, in guaranteeing certain vaccines rather than sort of trying to pick winners. Do you, does Labor have a view on that?

BUTLER: Well, what we're really concerned about is making sure that people do get access to vaccines and rapidly.

Scott Morrison said that we're at the front of the queue, no ifs, no buts, no caveats. That's what he said. I don't think that's going to come true. And you know, apparently, there's going to be a massive amount of vaccinations by the end of March has been walking back from that. I think people are right to be concerned about whether we've got a prime minister that we can trust to focus on the important issues. 

And that's the great thing about Anthony, you know, he's someone who genuinely and authentically does care about and believe in the issues that he's talking about. And his razor-like focus on jobs is going to be really important for the future of the economy.

AUSTIN: It’s a quarter past five, this is ABC Radio Brisbane. Steve Austin's my name, my guest is Terri Butler, Shadow Labor Minister for the Environment and water. US President Joe Biden has been has re-signed up or been signing executive orders to re-join the Paris Climate accords. What, if anything, will this mean for Australia?

BUTLER: It means that we're out on our own, we're just left out in the cold when it comes to climate politics. We've got now a really clear global move towards reducing emissions and taking real action on climate change. But here in Australia, we've got a prime minister who has in his own government, people like Craig Kelly and Gerard Rennick, and George Christensen, who think that there's some sort of conspiracy in the Bureau of Meteorology to falsify climate data. 

I mean, it looks ridiculous that we have a government with climate deniers in it. But what's really ridiculous is that we have a government that is not really wedded to strong action on climate change, won't even commit to very sensible renewables targets, very sensible emissions targets. You know, net zero by 2050 is something that the Business Council of Australia has committed to it. So many employer groups have committed to this, and business groups have committed to it. We've committed to it. 

The prime minister is out on his own. He's like, but that's what it's been like in domestic politics. And it's very clearly, he's very much out on his own in international politics now.

AUSTIN: I can't encapsulate exactly what he says. But he says we, we don't need targets to achieve our goals. We're already under I think there line is were already under our, our required or benchmark emissions.

BUTLER: I mean, it just shows how out of touch he is. And on top of that, 

AUSTIN: I didn't summarize it very well, then my apologies.

BUTLER: No, but I think it really does. And my constituents say that to me, as well. We've had, you know, backwards and forwards flip flopping on climate policy from this government the whole time they've been in, remember, they undermined the renewable energy target. And they've also had multiple, several different energy policies, they haven't been able to land one.

So not only are they not tackling emissions in this country, they're also not tackling energy prices. And that is so important because energy as an input to manufacturing, really high cost. If we can't bring energy prices down, then that's a problem for manufacturing jobs.

AUSTIN: That's not entirely true. Because Scott Morrison was in Gladstone last week, securing cheaper guess that domestic manufacturing and production and their argument is that that will bring prices down, that will provide a cheaper energy source, gas for Australian manufacturers, 

BUTLER: Scott Morrison was Gladstone last week announcing securing energy, but he never delivers Steve, he makes these big announcements about the proof is always in the eating. 

And I really want to say to people, I know that they're frustrated about Scott Morrison being all about the photo up and never about the follow up. We've seen it so many times in my portfolio. In environment. Remember, the bush fires, there was an announcement of $50 million of emergency funding immediate emergency funding for wildlife in the bushfires by the end of that financial year, that only spend 19 million of it. And that was the emergency funding for native wildlife in the bush fires. I mean, this is just one example of he makes these big commitments. But then we have to wait and see. And he just hopes that the new cycle moves on to the next thing happens and people forget about it. 

But we're not going to forget about it because this government is in its eighth year, we've seen power prices go up and that has hurt manufacturing jobs. It's hurt people in my electorate, who wants secure, well paid decent jobs in traditional industries and emerging industries.

AUSTIN: Here in Queensland power prices have gone up because the state owned electricity generators have allegedly been gaming the system and they're currently being sued in the courts for doing so.

BUTLER: I think we can definitely have some disagreements on why power prices might have gone up, but I can tell you what doesn't help power prices, multiple different national policies, giving uncertainty to manufacturers and to all of industry across this country. And I hear from that hid that from industry all the time. 

AUSTIN: 19 minutes past five, Terry Butler is the Shadow Minister for Environment and Water in Federal Labor. Just final question, unless something changes either they've missed it. You're only one of two Queenslanders in Anthony Albanese’s Shadow Cabinet. Shouldn't there be perhaps one more given at the ALP doesn't hold any seats north of Petrie? In other words, you’re nothing more than a Brisbane party, essentially. Well, Brisbane south.

BUTLER: I mean, I like to think of myself as a regional Queenslander. I spent the first 20 or so years of my life in Cairns and Townsville, of course,

AUSTIN: Sure but there's only (inaudible)… Shadow Cabinet 

BUTLER: Not to be glib about it. Look, Jim and I are incredibly, I think, honoured to be part of Anthony Albanese’s Shadow Cabinet. The Shadow Cabinet is of course a relatively small body and joining us of course, from the last election Murray Watt, has been has been a Shadow Minister has been in the outer shadow at a ministry. 

He's taken on a specific additional responsibility in this reshuffle for Queensland resources, absolutely fundamental portfolio for us to have represented I think he's done has actually done just such a great job getting around and talking to people. And we've got really fantastic representation. Every member of our caucus from Queensland makes a massive contribution. 

We've got Graham Perret, who's a Shadow Assistant Minister, we actually do punch above our weight when it comes to Canberra and the reason we can do that is because every single person in the caucus from Queensland is there because we're passionate about seeing a better deal for Queensland. 

AUSTIN: Good to see you. Thanks for coming in studio. 

BULTER: Thanks so much for having me back.

AUSTIN: Terri Butler, Federal Labor Member for Griffith here in Queensland, retains the shadow ministry portfolio of environment and water.