The Liberals Will Never Build Aspiration - Terri Butler MP, Labor for Griffith

The Liberals Will Never Build Aspiration

I recently spoke about how the Liberals and Nationals will never stand up for working Australians or build aspiration.

You can read the full speech (including Michael Sukkar's interjections) below.

Mr Deputy Speaker, what a day. Imagine getting a lecture from these people about morality and shame! You know who should be ashamed? People who are cutting the pension should be ashamed. People who are cutting $17 billion out of schools and giving it to the big banks—that's who should be ashamed. People who are cutting $2.2 billion out of university education—that's who should be ashamed.

Those opposite had the gall to lecture us this week about university education. Malcolm Turnbull, the Prime Minister of Australia, used the phrase 'university educated' as an insult this week. You know who else uses that sort of language as an insult? You know who else went after the intelligentsia? Pol Pot. General Franco. That's what happens when that sort of language is used. That's the sort of thing that goes on. That is absolutely the case when you use the phrase 'university educated'—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Hogan ): The member for Deakin, on a point of order?

Mr Sukkar: Mr Deputy Speaker, I do this reluctantly, because I know things get quite 'willing' in the MPI, but I would ask that the member withdraw that.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I do take the point that in the MPI there is a bit more latitude in the use of terminology, but I do ask the member to withdraw.

Ms BUTLER: May I speak to the point of order first?

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Certainly.

Ms BUTLER: I think the member might like to reflect on the fact that, if he wants me to withdraw, he will need to ask News Limited to withdraw, because it was News Limited who, this morning—

Mr Sukkar interjecting—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I'll just hear the point of order, Member for Deakin, from the member for Griffith.

Ms BUTLER: It was News Limited who printed a column that compared this to the work of Pol Pot. In fact, they used a much worse piece of language than me. So I expect that there'll be a call on them to withdraw, will there?

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Member for Deakin, on that point of order. But I make the point that the member for Griffith is losing her time.

Mr Sukkar: The standing orders don't apply to media organisations outside of this House. Can I ask again, very politely, that the member withdraw that very, very gross comment that she made.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Member for Griffith, I have asked you to withdraw.

Ms BUTLER: I'm sorry, I didn't realise you'd ruled, Mr Deputy Speaker.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I've asked if you would like withdraw.

Ms BUTLER: Deputy Speaker, if it's a ruling—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: For the good of the House.

Ms BUTLER: If it's a ruling, I'll withdraw.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I don't think there was a direct accusation. I think there was an innuendo in the comment. But, if the member's willing, I ask her to withdraw.

Ms BUTLER: Given it's not a ruling—I appreciate it's not. I compared the exploitation of people's populist inclination towards anti-intelligentsia sentiments to fascist regimes. This is a situation, Mr Deputy Speaker—

Mr Sukkar interjecting—

Ms BUTLER: He didn't make a ruling—which you would be aware of.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I have made my ruling. The member for Deakin will be seated.

Ms BUTLER: To use 'university educated' as an epithet is disgusting. It is anti intelligentsia and you should know better. And it's on a day when universities are under attack. You saw The Australian today; you saw the headline 'How universities are betraying Australia' in the nation's broadsheet. To think it's okay to be attacking universities and university education in those circumstances is disgusting, I think. It's consistent with the behaviour of this government and this Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister had the gall to tell us that we don't get aspiration at the same time that he had the gall to say that we weren't blue-collar enough—that we were university educated. Not only is he a snob about university education but he thinks we should know our place. He thinks it's outrageous that we have a university education. But he can't have both: either we don't understand aspiration, or we're too educated. It is not the case that we don't understand aspiration. We embody aspiration. We exemplify aspiration. There are people on this side of the House, me included, who were the first in their family to go to grade 12 let alone university. For these people to think that we don't understand aspiration shows how out of touch they really are.

They think aspiration is aspiring to be an investment banker. They think aspiration is aspiring to make more money. We think aspiration is aspiring to do better for this country. It's aspiration to make this a better society. It's aspiration to value education. But, you know, it's not just universities they don't like. They don't like TAFE either. The Minister for Education and Training referred to TAFE as basket weaving. Not only do you think we should know our place but you don't even value skills. You don't even value vocational education. How do we know? It's not just the basket-weaving comment; it's the fact that they've cut $3 billion from skills, including $270 million in this budget alone.

No-one in this place understands aspiration like Labor. We build aspiration. We exemplify aspiration. We will always stand up for working Australians. We won't cut the pension like that mob over there. We will stand up for aspiration.

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