Griffith grudge match: Glasson’s Gladiators vs Butler’s Battlers @GriffithElects reports


By Jan Bowman  @GriffithElects

25th January 2014

Having a Prime Minister as the sitting member drew significant attention to Griffith during the 2013 federal election, but there is a sense that this time around the eyes of the nation will be on Griffith with renewed interest, many seeing this by-election as the first test for Tony Abbott’s government.

On one side of the ring we have LNP candidate Dr Glasson, who is well liked in the electorate, and his personal appeal may be his greatest asset. He projected as much himself, when he was reported in the Fairfax press as saying that: “If we try to sell it (the election) on a political basis, or a leadership basis, we won’t get up.”

As the son of William (Bill) Glasson, Queensland Minister for Lands and Forestry and Police under Joh Bjelke-Petersen, Dr Glasson has an LNP legacy. “You may say politics is in my blood” he told Carindale Connect in March 2013.


Since the 2013 election Dr Glasson has been touted in the media as something of a giant slayer, having made significant inroads into the ALP’s primary vote in Griffith by gaining 42.2 per cent to Kevin Rudd’s 40.36 per cent.

In his campaign material, Dr Glasson lists his priorities as:

–  Improving frontline health services and delivering on our commitment to establish Hummingbird House, a children’s respite and hospice facility at Kangaroo Point;

–  Creating more local jobs by reducing taxes and regulations on small business and increasing their ability to compete – which will be helped by the Government’s new competition review;

–  Reducing the cost of living by scrapping the Carbon Tax – making households $550 a year better off; and,

– A stronger, safer community through more CCTVs, and support for sporting and community groups.

While he may have wanted to ‘keep it local’ and focus the campaign around Kevin Rudd’s resignation, the Abbott government’s shaky start has largely enabled Labor and the Greens to set the agenda.

There has been particular focus in the past few weeks on school funding, Medicare, and action on climate change. Whether he had planned to or not, these are the issues to which Dr Glasson is now having to respond.

Much is made in Dr Glasson’s campaign material of his credentials as a local doctor and a past president of the AMA. It says of him that: “Bill’s character is reflected in his belief that all Australians should be able to access quality health care, regardless of their circumstances or where they live. As president of the Australian Medical Association he fought hard for that outcome working with governments of all persuasions.”

However, after going public with qualified support for a proposed new Medicare fee for bulk billed patients, these credentials have been under attack and a ‘Save Our Medicare’ campaign has sprung up in Griffith and found resonance nationally.

It is hard to know whether the Medicare fee issue has gained any traction beyond the Labor and Green’s party faithful. While the government has not categorically ruled it out, the Acting Health Minister Kevin Andrews has made it clear that a new Medicare fee is not current Government policy, and Glasson says Labor is just ‘scaremongering’.

Locals I have spoken with appear to be somewhat underwhelmed by the issue, some saying they already pay a gap fee anyway, and others that $6 doesn’t seem like much to ask. Nevertheless, Labor and the Greens continue to pursue the issue with vigour.

In the ALP corner, Dr Glasson’s opponent, newcomer Terri Butler told No Fibs that if the government does introduce a fee it is unlikely to be a one-off.

“The Abbott Government has hit Australians hard with the biggest increase to private health insurance premiums in a decade,” and added, “once they introduce a tax on every GP visit, the Abbott government will open the floodgate to annual increases of GP fees, making it tough for families already struggling with the cost of living.” she said.

As others have observed, the disadvantage for Terri Butler in this by-election is that she doesn’t have a profile in the electorate that could in any way equal that of her predecessor Kevin Rudd, and on top of that, she is up against a well-known and well-liked opponent.

Terri Buter and Bill Shorten

On the plus side, Ms Butler is new: this can bring its own energy and freshness, and the old Labor leadership battles are no longer the ‘front and centre’ distractions they were in 2013.

While Ms Butler sees herself as the underdog in terms of financial resources, she considers she has the backing that will really count come election time.

“Though the LNP candidate has a lot more money to spend on this campaign than I do, I have more grassroots support,” she told No Fibs.

Yet in her campaign speech this week, Ms Butler warned her supporters: “Do not be fooled. We are right up against the wall in Griffith.”

In my first interview with Ms Butler, she said of herself: “I am someone that people can relate to. I’m a young mum, I’ve got a successful career, and like a lot of people in this electorate, I juggle the responsibilities of looking after my family with full-time work.”

Ms Butler said Labor’s volunteers (which some have dubbed ‘Butler’s Battlers’ as a retort to the ‘Glasson’s Gladiators’ tag), “are working on this campaign because they strongly believe in what we stand for: a fair go for the people of Griffith, and they’re working alongside me to engage with people as much as possible.”

Ms Butler said that Labor is keeping the campaign local. “We’re doing street stalls, meeting and greeting people at train, bus and ferry stops, making phone calls, speaking directly with local businesses, sending letters, and attending community meetings, among other things”.

As to the local issues, Ms Butler said people are concerned about: “The inequity in access to high-speed broadband, and concerns about Mr Turnbull’s second-rate broadband plan,

LNP backflipping on education funding”, and cited access to quality childcare and aircraft noise as other topics of concern for the electorate.

“More generally”, she said, “people are concerned that the Abbott government is not what they expected when they voted. We were promised no surprises and no excuses, but we seem to be getting plenty of both”.

“This by-election is people’s first opportunity to express an opinion about the Abbott government. From the conversations I’ve had, I don’t think people want to give the Abbott government a tick of approval,” she said.

Asked why she considers Labor is best placed to represent the interests of the people of Griffith, Ms Butler said: “We have wall-to-wall LNP governments. We don’t need yet another person agreeing with Tony Abbott and Campbell Newman. It’s important to restore some of the balance. Our community deserves a strong voice.”

Ms Butler said that the by-election is about the future. “It’s an opportunity for people to send a message to Canberra about the Abbott government’s performance, and about the type of government we expect and deserve.”

Over the past week, Ms Butler has had Labor Leader Bill Shorten at her side as they have taken to the streets. She told No Fibs: “It has been great to have had opposition leader Bill Shorten in Griffith this week. Bill has provided tremendous support to me right throughout the campaign, including campaigning with me at bus and ferry terminals across the Southside, making phone calls, meeting with local community groups and formally launching my campaign.”

Mr Shorten launched the Labor campaign on Wednesday evening with a fiery speech to a (mostly standing) whistling and hooting crowd of supporters in cramped footy clubs in Hawthorne. This was the Bill Shorten Labor people have been waiting to see.

At the conclusion of her campaign speech on Wednesday, Ms Butler said: “Everyone in this room knows that universal healthcare, a great education system, high speed broadband, and accessible affordable childcare, are, and always have been, Labor priorities, and we all know that only a Labor member will stand and fight to protect them.”

Dr Glasson has a very active Facebook site and a website but does not tweet.

Ms Butler has a Facebook site and website and tweets as @TerriMButler

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  1. Edward James says

    Terri Butler is often photographed around Griffith standing next to Labor leader Bill Shorten. Thats one strike against her. She is a member of a party being exposed over years as a political disgrace, by members and expelled members Michael Williamson, Eddie Obied, Craig Thomson, Milton Orkopolous, Bruce Wilson, Julia Gillard and others. The last two have been reported to be named on a warrant used by the Victorian police fraud squad to collect records from Slater and Gordon in connection with the police invistigation of several frauds. Edward James

    • i am impressed with this No Fibs site it is quick and fair when compared to some others. One which I pay to use could learn a lot from No Fibs easy access. Edward James

  2. Mr. James maybe you should temper your comments as you are naming people who have had no criminal offence proven against them. also on the other side of the coin the liberal party has had it’s disgraced members as well and the behaviour of others in the LNP may yet see legal investigations into their methods of trying to change the balance of power in the House of Representatives.

    • Edward James says

      David m sorry I am just understanding how this string functions readers of NO FIBS know there are political allsorts all over Australia who have been exposed and disgraced. Some only in the peoples court of public opinion. Others whose indiscretions have found their way into a court in another place. I have spent thousands exposing political shonks and cheats in local papers ! Whats your point? Edward James

  3. Good thing Dr Glasson’s crew are completely beyond reproach.

    • Peter F I missed the sarcasm, But as you seem to be inviting a comparison of the type of campaign support between Butler and Glasson’s crews I expect campaign supporters will conduct the support campaigns outside the law as usual. Unless things are nothing like the way the two parties not much preferred conduct political campaigns at Federal, State and Local levels in NSW!

  4. Edward James says

    Peter, politics and the exercise of our freedoms to communicate are very important to all of us. This by election for the seat of Griffith is all about the voters perceptions. What would Terri Butler have to say about the findings of Tim carmody in latest inquiry into the Heiner Affair handed down on Monday the 1 of July 2013. Lets hope locales inn Kevin Rudds old seat have good memories going back to the time when Kevin was Chief of staff to Premier Wayne Goss and are well informed. There are such things as political sins against the peoples in the court of public opinion, which may find their way into another place in due course. Edward James .

  5. So now you have changed your comments to something more relevant, and I say ‘more’ advisedly. However, if you think these matters are relevant now, how is it that Rudd was able to be elected in the first place. Where were you to inform us of his misdeeds? As for the ‘court of public opinion’, it is easily manipulated as we have seen over the past six years.

    • Edward James says

      Peter. Party Politics is for the most part a team activity. Team Labor are being exposed now, Because Labor have simply gone way too far in trying to keep a lid on very publicly alleged rorts involving Union members and Party members. In my opinion Labor and many unions are the way they are today because too many members simply paid their membership and walked on. as far as changing my comments Peter. I am just getting used to the idea NO FIBS may be a breath of fresh air worthwhile posting comments on. Edward James

  6. Edward James says

    David M.My comments are certainly tempered. As you have raised the issue of actual criminal offences claiming none of those named have been convicted of criminal offences, let me point out to our readers at NO FIBS. Mr. Michael Williamson past President of the Australian Labor Party has pleaded guilty to a string of criminal offences connected to frauds in excess of a million dollars on the Health Services Union he is awaiting sentencing. and Milton (the horrible) Orkopolous failed Labor member for Swansea is a convicted pedophile doing time in NSW. Edward James

    Citizen Journalism

    • Federal court judge Justice Rares brought down his judgement against Abbott Pyne Bishop Brough Ashby and others to bring down an elected Government by deception. That is also called sedition and one day they will be brought to justice.

  7. Here is a link for those NO FIBS posters who wrongly think I am a paid troll. enjoy yourselves and work at being better informed than you are at present! Edward James

    • Now here is a surprise for campaigners in the electorate of Griffith. When we know Slater and Gordon are busy not being perceived as conflicted over Victorian police Fraud squad investigations.
      Consider this news No Fibs readers. Bill shorten and his wife are off to Europe, who would have thought he would move even further away from the fan spatter as Labor collapses under the scrutiny of public trust journalist.
      “While Mr Shorten’s costs are provided for as Opposition Leader, he is being accompanied on the northern hemisphere visit by his wife, Chloe Shorten.

      Her fares have been met by the plaintiff law firm Slater and Gordon, which is expanding its operations and opening offices in London.”
      Politics is all about perceptions. In my opinion this is a bad look! Edward James

      Read more:

  8. Alright Edward, so you don’t get paid for being a troll!

    • jim. consider this. There are no doubt tens of thousands of Australian taxpayers looking forward to the mooted Federal Royal Commission into Unions which will be a direct result of the efforts of whistle blowers Mr. Bob Kernohan and Mr.Blewitt supported by Mr. Michael Smith, and some journalist in the media like Mr. Piers Ackerman Mr. Hedley Thomas are stand outs. Bill Shorten as a former national union leader with oversight of Bruce Wilson’s AWU “work” and now team leader of a much diminished Labor party in opposition has his work cut out to finish cleaning out all the problems which have and continue to destroy Labor during the time he has been a member of the party and now leader of the party. Currently he is up in Queensland clinging to Terri Butler looking for voter support for damaged Labor in the seat of Griffith. While Craig Thomson is busy in the Victorian magistrates court having recanted lies he told our Federal Labor Parliament under privilege. Perceived by many (labor supporters among them no doubt) as a desperate means a la graham richardson what ever it takes, to keep Labor in power, published for the record in Federal Hansard. I won’t be holding my breath waiting for Bill Shorten to lead the call for Craig Thomson to be brought to account before Federal Parliament. Edward James

    • mark elanda says

      it is called freedom of speech something that has been further eroded over the six yr labor disaster

  9. Following publication, Labor candidate Terri Butler @terrimbutler provided No Fibs with a link to an opinion piece which clarifies her position on the GP Tax proposal:

  10. mark elanda says

    edward james is right the labour canadate needs more scrutiny this party has not changed one bit
    its unionist hacks and lawyers that destroyed it carefull what you wish for

    • Australian voters at recent Federal State and Local elections resolved to exercise their own votes numbering boxes below the line in an effort to pull the political weeds from our garden beds of democracy. there is no point in accepting a how to vote card while waiting in line at the polling booth. it is our responsibility to be actively involved in the political process. You are right Mark. Team Labor may be smaller that is the voter effect. But Labor haven’t made any effective changes to the way they roll. if they had they too would be calling for a Royal Commission into shonky Unions and the AWU fraud scandal.Currently being investigated by the Victorian Police Fraud Squad. here is an audio comment which is self explanatory
      The site accepts comments from anyone on the WWW. why aren’t these people in gaol? Indeed every australian parliament is populated by all our elected reps being in opposition is no excuse to be deaf dumb and blind. Is it? I wonder what Terri Butler really thinks about Labors internal problems as a member? Edward James