“I do think Mark can go to another senior portfolio — he’s a smart guy, there are plenty of things he can do — but we need a new advocate bringing a fresh face and a fresh approach,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.
Mr Butler said he was prepared to move to a different role if Mr Albanese wanted him to.
“Absolutely, in a heartbeat,” he told ABC radio in Adelaide.
“If he decides that I’d be best placed somewhere else, I would be entirely relaxed about that. But it’s not about me, this is about whether or not we continue to have a strong commitment within the labor party on climate action.”
Mr Butler said he believed Mr Fitzgibbon and other right faction Labor MPs were trying to roll back the party’s commitment to strong action on climate change.
“I will contest the roll back, which really is at the heart of this call by Joel Fitzgibbon and [Labor senator] Alex Gallacher, to roll back our commitment to climate action. I completely reject the idea they’ve put forward that this was the reason we lost the last election, it’s not borne out by any data at all,” he said.
Mr Albanese said on Tuesday that Labor’s position on climate change was clear.
“We have net-zero emissions by 2050. And we will have a complete announcement, including how we get there, before the election,” he said.
Opposition frontbenchers have supported Mr Fitzgibbon’s call for Labor MPs to be given more freedom to speak on issues affecting their electorates amid growing internal unrest over the party’s climate change policies.
Opposition innovation and technology spokeswoman, Clare O’Neil, told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald that all MPs needed to be able express the aspirations of their local communities.
“We’re not robots, we don’t come to Canberra with a set of preconceived ideas about every policy area,” Ms O’Neil said.
But shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus hit out at Mr Fitzgibbon on Wednesday, telling ABC radio he believed his former frontbench colleague was “out of step”‘ with the Australian community on climate change.
Angus Livingston is the Federal Politics Bureau Chief for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, based at Parliament House in Canberra.