We asked our local Federal, State and Council representatives to reflect on the year that was, and to tell us about their hopes for 2021

Below are responses from Terri Butler, Federal Member for Griffith.

2020 started with heat waves and wildfires across the country, resulting in the loss of lives, wildlife, forests, livestock, and homes. By March we were in the first of our COVID19 lockdowns. Council elections were held in March, and in October we had the State Government election. The Greens saw significant swings toward them in The Gabba Ward and in South Brisbane, where the Greens had an historic win.

Reflecting on the above, what has 2020 taught you, and how will these lessons inform your actions and priorities as the elected representative for Griffith in the coming year?

2020 was a tough year for everyone. Many people in our communities across the Southside did it tough. Job losses, business closures, ill-health, disruption to family lives, social isolation and a deep sense of concern about what the future holds. I think this year has reinforced our resilience as a community and taught us that we need to be there for one another, extending a helping hand where we can. At a national level I think the pandemic has also reinforced the importance of great social and economic institutions, that we often take for granted.

Things like Medicare, and the importance of well-run state hospitals, with highly skilled nurses, doctors and healthcare workers with job security and decent wages and conditions.  The importance of a strong social safety net and superannuation for dignity in retirement. Many of these tremendous Labor Government legacies have helped to shape the modern Australia we know today, despite the Liberals and Nationals attempts to undermine these essential pillars of our commitment to fairer society.

Reflecting on 2020 has given me immense motivation to fight for the election of an Albanese Labor Government so we can protect and strengthen Medicare, superannuation and retirement incomes, and our social safety net. So we can focus on building secure jobs and family incomes, train and retrain our people and make higher education accessible and affordable.

Climate action is needed now. We need a federal Labor Government to take strong climate action. It’s urgent.  We all saw, felt and smelt the damage of the bushfires.  We can’t afford to sit back and hope for action from other political parties. Ever since the Greens sided with Tony Abbott’s Liberals and Nationals to vote against Kevin Rudd’s climate reforms in 2009, we have had such a destructive debate about achieving climate action. Extremes on both sides, from denial to “ideal”, has resulted in very little action at all. You can’t take climate action with talk, only a strong national climate action framework delivered by a federal Labor Government. That’s what Labor will deliver.

2020 has reminded us all of the importance of nature. Being locked inside for so long, has I think reinforced how much we do, and should value our beautiful natural environment. Visiting Brisbane and Queensland’s iconic outdoor spots and even just being able to go bush walking in a national park.

We are in a serious fight with the Coalition right now, to ensure we have stronger environment laws, so we can protect our native species and the places we love.

Locally, we had a significant rise in constituents contacting our office for help with issues, and it has been clear that the Morrison Government has a serious lack of concern for our community and those in the most need.

Major upheavals often provide opportunities for a reset. What opportunities do you think we have in Australia to reset our social and political directions?

Australia needs a change of government.

We need a Government that acts in the interests of our communities, our environment and working families.

Instead, we have a government that delivers broken promises, sports rorts, dodgy land deals, a dud NBN and a natural environment in serious decline.

As Australia recovers from the deepest recession in almost a century, the decisions this Government is taking are making things worse for hardworking Australians.

Scott Morrison has deliberately excluded 928,000 people aged 35 and over from hiring subsidies. Instead of a plan to get Australians back into work, Scott Morrison is leaving people behind to go it alone.

The Prime Minister promised to have stranded Australians home by Christmas. Almost 40,000 people are still waiting.

The major opportunity that exists to reset our social and political direction this year will likely be a federal election. Voting Labor will give our country the best chance of defeating the Coalition, ending the rorts, waste and mismanagement, so we can take genuine climate action, protect our environment, build a stronger Medicare and education system, build better retirement incomes through superannuation, and create the sort of well-paid, secure jobs that Australian’s deserve. Everything is at stake.

Are you hopeful about our future? If so, what makes you hopeful?

I’m very hopeful for the future. Our community, our state and our nation have so many natural advantages. But we must grasp them now. We must tackle climate change head on, with genuine climate action – and take advantage of the new jobs and economic growth it brings.

The spirit of Australians during the pandemic gives me hope that our strength and resilience comes from each other, from our communities, from our desire to move our country forward together, rather than pitting everyone against each other.

We need to end the division and unite in the common purpose of building a better Australia for everyone, not just those who have the resources and power to get ahead.

What are the most significant challenges facing the electorate Griffith in the coming year? Do these differ in any way from the challenges facing the broader Australian community?

Our challenges are like other parts of Australia, but also unique. Our communities are diverse.

We need more space for recreation and reflection in our communities. Overdevelopment is a massive challenge and along with it securing better transport and safer roads with less traffic. We need to preserve our unique way of life and the character of our suburbs.

More broadly, we need a federal government that works every day to increase opportunities for our people, rather than actively making it harder to earn, learn and access quality affordable healthcare.

Building the next generation of well-paid, secure jobs locally, and revitalising traditional jobs in manufacturing, through lower energy prices and lower emissions, is just so important to our future – and that’s what I’m committed to doing.

How do you see your role in supporting and representing the hopes and concerns of your community in 2021? 

I will always give strong voice to our community’s concerns in the federal parliament. Whether it is better jobs, health, education, equality for our LQBTIQ communities, the ongoing social, health and economic challenges of our indigenous brothers and sisters, or ending indefinite detention for refugees. Electing a Labor Government so we can achieve strong climate action and stronger laws to protect nature are key to creating the sort of future we can all be proud of, and indeed that we need to preserve our way of life.

What are five key issues or reasons residents contact your office? How have you been able to the represent their concerns?

  • Income support issues with the Morrison Government
  • Immigration issues
  • Australian’s stranded overseas
  • Community group support
  • Homelessness, housing, mental health and Domestic violence

My office is constantly making ministerial representations, dealing with government service agencies, raising matters with shadow ministers for policy development, connecting people with services, publicly campaigning and speaking about many of these issues in the federal parliament.

Ms Butler is Shadow Minister for Environment and Water.

Her office can be reached via this site: https://www.terributlermp.com/

You can read Amy MacMahon’s responses to these questions here:

“The sparks of solidarity in our community give me hope”: Amy MacMahon reflects on the year that was and on her hopes for 2021

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