There was a hush, an excited hush, sweeping across the Senate as the men and women on the floor and in the packed galleries waited to hear the First Speech of Senator Julian Assange.

Well at least he's less weird than Cory Bernardi

After all, this is to be the first ever First Speech given by a senator living in Ecuador. Julian still thinks the Swedes are after him, and by that we know he means the Americans.

His was a stunning 2013 election victory against the might of the major parties and despite the awkward incident in which his entire campaign strategy was released on Wikileaks.

And it was damn hard running a race in Australia from the suburbs of the Ecuadorian capital, Quito.

But it wasn’t a total surprise. In May 2012, it was reported that pollsters UMR Research found Mr—now Senator—Assange had a chance in either NSW or Victoria by knocking off a Green Senate candidate. Which is what he did.

The poll had found that 66 per cent of Greens voters held positive views on Mr Assange and 39 per cent of Greens voters were likely to vote for him.

The Senate contest was billed by the more uncouth ends of the press and digital media spectrum as the Battle of the Beardies and the Showdown of the Sandals and Socks Brigades. Although Julian, of course, remains neatly coiffed and he hasn’t worn sandals since Queensland holidays while a tot.

But often it was difficult to tell apart the Greens and the Julian Now! zealots.

In his application to stand for the Senate he included a petition with thousands of supporters’ names to establish the credentials of the new Julian Now! party. And he listed his occupation as “data curator; host of Quito Today”. Apparently his brief stint in London at the helm of a political talk show The World Tomorrow, shown on Russian network RT, gave him the TV bug.

But now he was using the Quito Today set to send his video First Speech, having taken a virtual oath necessary for him to be officially made a senator. The hush deepened as the static on a giant flat screen on the Senate floor eased into the well-known flop of white hair and the know-all smirk of Senator Assange.

“My fellow Australians and Ecuadorians,” he began.

“This is a hugely important occasion for the nation and for me. In fact, it is hugely important because it is all about me. And a little bit about representative democracy.

“I firmly believe I have the policies and the drive to make sure this is a country in which I one day might live, and in which you will be proud to live alongside me. I will release these policies shortly by calling into the Philip Adams radio program, where I announced my candidature.

“This election was just the start of a national Julian Now! crusade to reshape the national polity in my image. It was an overdue recognition of the central issues I represent—such as what a terrific bloke I am—and a delayed advance towards the inevitable. I speak, of course, of Prime Minister Assange.

“I can’t say I am looking forward to actually taking part in Senate activities, letalone sitting in the Senate. But my life has seen greater discomforts. Solitary confinement was worse. Two years under house arrest, going to the police station every day at a certain time with a manacle around my leg was worse. Not a lot worse, but worse nevertheless.

“Today also is a great occasion for the many thousands of people who adore me and who I will sooner or later exploit in careless fashion. So to all those people whose couches I slept on without showing any gratitude, whose alcohol I drank and food I ate without replacing any of it, whose bail money I skipped on, this victory would be for you were it not mostly for me.”

The image disintegrated back to the speckles of static but the hush didn’t go away.

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    • iansand says:

      11:13am | 13/12/12

      A great plan, with one significant flaw

      COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA CONSTITUTION ACT - SECT 20

      Vacancy by absence

      The place of a senator shall become vacant if for two consecutive months of any session of the Parliament he, without the permission of the Senate, fails to attend the Senate.

    • Shane From Melbourne says:

      11:43am | 13/12/12

      Does mean that in theory a Senator could skip the senate sessions every other month?- not that anyone would notice…....

    • Rrrr says:

      11:50am | 13/12/12

      The result of that Referendum was that over 87% of the people of Under s 128
      Australia and the states of WA, SA, Vic, Tas, NSW, and QLD voted “NO”. It is clear that no “system of local government” may be lawfully “established or continued” within the Commonwealth of Australia, or within any of the various states.

      It is obvious that Councils have no legal standing under our constitution, they can only be legalised by the people at a referendum, to which they have already said no.

      Please explain.

    • Gregg says:

      11:51am | 13/12/12

      And if it comes to that of course the Senate may accpt the will of the people who voted for him and grant permission.
      We would not want to have to get a secondhand use of all those concrete blocks the Egyptians might have been planning on restoring pyramids with.

    • Esteban says:

      12:09pm | 13/12/12

      Has it been tested in the high court iansand?

      Virtually present? Digitally present?

      Section 20 discriminates against and violates the human rights of senators who are in exile?

      Some little government funded left wing legal firm should be able to get an injunction and tie it up in the high court surely.

      Of course we know that the high court is never wrong.

    • Borderer says:

      12:40pm | 13/12/12

      @Esteban
      Section 20 discriminates against and violates the human rights of senators who are in exile?
      Exile? I thought he was dodging extradition by hiding out in an embassy.

      Of course we know that the high court is never wrong.
      Actually, no they aren’t. Being the highest court in the land, their judgements are final, not liking their decision desn’t make them wrong.

    • Esteban says:

      01:46pm | 13/12/12

      Thanks Borderer. What you posted goes to my point which is that drawing absolute confidence of your position from a section of the constitution that has not been tested in the high court is a risk.

      Would it be so shocking if the high court found that section 20 could not be applied to Mr Assaange for whatever reason or the couple of examples that I randomly thought up?

    • Borderer says:

      02:21pm | 13/12/12

      Well it could be judged that he could opt to be digitally present but I think it would fail on the basis that the parliment could opt to have ministers from far flung electorates to only telecommute. It would save tax payers millions in travel costs and reduce allowance payments to almost nothing. That simply will not do as robust debate would suffer at the lack of physical presence in the house…
      You also have to think of the airlines, limosine drivers, hoteliers, prostitutes and mistresses who will be turned out into the street at this outrage…. plus there is the allowance to consider and having to spend time with the wife… In the interest of the nation this can not be allowed.

    • iansand says:

      02:26pm | 13/12/12

      As I joke to friends of mine who become judges - You now have conditional forensic infallibility.

      So far I have only had acquaintances on the High Court, so I do not know anyone who has advanced to absolute forensic infallibility well enough to make the joke.

    • Nostromo says:

      03:38pm | 13/12/12

      Is this the same constitution that prohibits us from forming state governments…?

    • iansand says:

      06:02pm | 13/12/12

      Nostromo - What section says that?

    • Zedimus says:

      11:18am | 13/12/12

      I for one, welcome our new digital overlords.

    • Joel M-J says:

      02:09pm | 13/12/12

      If we are really lucky, he will allow us to live and become pets.

    • OzTrucker says:

      11:19am | 13/12/12

      You amaze me Mal. Obviously Mr Assange scares you as much as the Abbott monster.

      I understand though. Telling the truth would be anathema to the political set.

    • JoniM says:

      02:41pm | 13/12/12

      But at least it would be good to see what a proper global misogynist politician looks like up close !

    • Mr Greer says:

      11:26am | 13/12/12

      Hell, if Australians can elect an untrustworthy person such as Gillard as PM, Assange is a certainty for the senate. In fact don’t be surprised if Gillard makes him the speaker or our new foreign minister to replace labor leadership contender Bob Carr.

    • esteban says:

      12:18pm | 13/12/12

      If he was foreign minister at least his confidential cables would be kept confidential.

      Put him in charge of something and see how he goes with full transparency.

    • Philosopher says:

      11:26am | 13/12/12

      I hate it when journalists go all sarcastic. It just never works.

    • Malcolm Farr says:

      11:45am | 13/12/12

      I hate it when people are too gutless to use their names. It makes their comments valueless.

    • Ben says:

      12:19pm | 13/12/12

      @philospher   I think you touched a raw nerve!    @Farr   harden up!

    • Tubesteak says:

      12:27pm | 13/12/12

      If I could make a living from making comments on news websites then I would use my real name.

      But I can’t. So I won’t. I don’t want work to be able to google my real name and find out what I do. They can get IT to run a trace on IP address etc for that.

    • Philosopher says:

      12:37pm | 13/12/12

      damn, I truly hate it when that happens. *limps away, wounded*

    • Mark says:

      12:43pm | 13/12/12

      LOL @Philosopher, you might offend Mal (which seems like you have) and seeing as he’s buddy buddy with Labor Party, the new “Shut Your Mouth Cause I’m Offended” laws will land you in trouble.

    • hammy says:

      12:55pm | 13/12/12

      So if he had of used his name, it would then be a valuable assertion?

    • Esteban says:

      01:11pm | 13/12/12

      A true beliver has turned on one of his own.

      How to blame Abbott??

    • Rosie says:

      01:50pm | 13/12/12

      This seems like male territory to me so had better shy away gracefully! However, have enjoyed the read guys and so often have wanted to say a few things to Malcolm Farr but have known that it would never be published.

    • Jack says:

      02:29pm | 13/12/12

      They would rather keep us in the dark and protect the bastards the way they are or they wouldn’t have a job.

    • Joel M-J says:

      02:45pm | 13/12/12

      Malcolm Farr? Heh. More like Malcolm not Farr enough.

      My last name is Meakin-Jones.

    • CC says:

      02:48pm | 13/12/12

      What I find hillarious is demanding people put their names to something, but when they do, and its a fair and constructive, you moderate it out.

    • Matto says:

      11:26am | 13/12/12

      Curious. This piece seems to suggest Assange is more of a joke than our current elected officials.

    • marley says:

      11:37am | 13/12/12

      So, a person who has claimed political asylum because of persecution by his country of nationality now wants to become a Senator of the persecuting country.  Umm, doesn’t that kind of weaken his asylum claim?

    • K^2 says:

      01:17pm | 13/12/12

      If you know the history of it all, no, not really.

    • Blind Freddy says:

      01:26pm | 13/12/12

      Wasn’t the assertion that he is/was being “persecuted” the US and Sweden - not Ausralia?

      Perhaps he wants to attempt to get some law changes in Australia - that is done in the Australian parliament.

    • marley says:

      02:03pm | 13/12/12

      @blindfreddy - I’m just postulating. I don’t know the grounds on which Ecuador granted him asylum, but usually, asylum falls under the Refugee Convention, and that means Australia would have to be the culprit. 

      Anyway, whether he’s elected or not, I don’t see how it helps him out of the current impasse.

    • Zeta says:

      11:38am | 13/12/12

      It never ceases to amaze me how the merest whiff of Julian Assange can drive an otherwise calm, dispassionate professional journalist into a dribbling, manic wreck.

      You’d think Assange had personally crept into the news rooms of every masthead in range and taken a dump on their desks, for all the copy they waste refuting him, ridiculing him and otherwise deriding him.

      Something I’ve noticed over the years is that with very few exceptions, men in the media particularly, seem to operate on the emotional level of 14 year old girls. Apart from the incessant whining, the constant need for appoval from authority figures, the vicious gossip mongering - they’re just hideously jealous people.

      And that’s what this comes down to with Assange. Personally, I think he’s morally dubious, intellectually lazy and most likely some kind of criminal - either a sexual deviant or else a threat to national security. That’s my opinion of the man - my opinion of what he did in the last two years is that he broke some of the single biggest stories since 9/11. His leaks lead international debate on the influence of the Church of Scientology, the culpability of Wall Street in the GFC, war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, culminating in his revelation of the cloistered, incompetent meanderings of the US diplomatic corps and their myriad of intelligence, military, financial and social failures.

      No matter what else you think of him, and I think quite poorly of him, he’s responsible for the best investigative journalism in the world right now. That’s not because he’s good at it, or that WikiLeaks is the best model for it - it’s because no one else is doing it. Especially not in our country, where news desks equate ‘investigative journalism’ with putting Joe Hildebrand in a fedora and making him hold a magnifying glass while begging press secretaries for drops.

      In fact that’s the M.O of the worst Assange bashers - a complete lack of actual journalistic credentials. You’d excuse someone like James Risen having a crack at him. But what you can’t excuse is Australian journalists, whose contribution to the craft amounts to loitering around the Canberra gallery sniffing half-yarns out of either 19 year old press secretaries or 99 year old hacks who don’t even work their anymore.

      I guess the absolute worst sin is that stuff like this - just isn’t very funny.

    • Esteban says:

      12:41pm | 13/12/12

      Malcolm Farr is consistent when it comes to deriding people based on their motivation.

      Yesterday he supported the court for throwing out the sexual harrassment case because it was politically motivated. The merits of the case are secondary.

      Similarly ,the merits of Assange’s investigative jouralism that you have mentioned are secondary to the dubious motivation of Assange.

      Motivation beats merits with Mr farr and our courts.

    • Richard says:

      02:24pm | 13/12/12

      Love this comment. Personally I adore Assange, I think the “crimes” he is accused of committing are the purest examples of feminist hysteria writ legally in the world. But one’s personal opinion of Assange is irrelevant anyway, all that is relevant is the outstanding contribution to journalism and freedom of information which he has made, and for this Assange is to be congratulated.

      I’d make him a Senator-for-life if it was up to me. I’ll definitely be voting for him in the senate next year if he runs in Victoria.

    • TheRealDave says:

      02:39pm | 13/12/12

      ” all that is relevant is the outstanding contribution to journalism and freedom of information which he has made, and for this Assange is to be congratulated.”

      What ‘contribution to journalism’ has he made?

      Clicking ‘Publish’ on a slew of documents someone else stole and sent to you is ‘Journalism’ now?

      I knew they’d lowered the bar on what constitutes ‘Journalism’ nowadays….but….....

    • Achmed says:

      03:18pm | 13/12/12

      Esteban - another Liberal who does not support our legal system and condemns and ridicules those who do….

      Just following the lead of those Liberals in Parliament….not the best role models when it comes to legal process.

    • H B Bear says:

      11:42am | 13/12/12

      I hope Julian gets over his bad case of “basement lung” soon.  The relevance deprivation syndrome must be killing him.

    • sunny says:

      11:56am | 13/12/12

      “Fellow Senators, let me first say that that thing in Sweden was a total fix up, because that bird was well up for it. Now that that’s out of the way, the following is my policy on the Murray Darling Basin..”

    • Tim from Canberra says:

      12:03pm | 13/12/12

      Thanks. I needed a laugh.

    • KimL says:

      12:15pm | 13/12/12

      I would not vote for him, what good is voting for someone who locked up in another country? I think he is after attention, he has a massive ego. But each to their own, if an electorate wants a representative who can’t actually come to Australia..good on them

    • Gotrek says:

      03:55pm | 13/12/12

      How do you know he has a massive ego?  Because the media (who he is in competition against) or the politicians (who he embarrassed and is now also in competition against) told you so?

      Have you ever met the guy?  Where do you get this judgement from, based on what?  If anything you could say perhaps, pathologically altruistic, I mean, by definition its impossible for him to be egocentric because his actions (whether intentionally or inadvertantly) have benefited others.

    • Jon says:

      12:18pm | 13/12/12

      What Assange for the senate? he has an over inflated sense of self-esteem, characterised by delusional fantasies of power, relevance, or omnipotence.

      He will fit right in!

    • KJ says:

      03:57pm | 13/12/12

      perfect fit for an Australian politican

    • Bruno says:

      12:18pm | 13/12/12

      Big Mal’s just upset that if Assange methods became a reality Mal the respected journalist would become that crazy shouting guy on the street corner.

    • Mark says:

      12:38pm | 13/12/12

      Whats the matter Mal, Julia or her talent-less drones mustn’t have done anything dumb today for you to cry “It’s Tonys’ fault” so you’re left penning this dribble.

      Glad you’re on the judging board of the Walkley Awards.

    • Baloo says:

      01:40pm | 13/12/12

      What is this I don’t even..

    • Philosopher says:

      02:30pm | 13/12/12

      best comment yet! And I don’t even understand it.

    • K^2 says:

      03:46pm | 13/12/12

      Its a play on words.
      His name is Baloo, which when you break it down and emphasise the syllables the answer becomes more obvious…Let me show you…

      What is this I don’t even…. Bah!.....  Loo! *sound of sprinting and doors closing*

    • Philosopher says:

      04:48pm | 13/12/12

      aah, get it now. Reading the Punch has that laxative effect.

    • Baloo says:

      05:23pm | 13/12/12

      I’m conveying my confuzzlement

    • Onlooker says:

      02:26pm | 13/12/12

      Can’t he go to Ecuador and lead them..why us? What have we ever done to deserve Assange?  He has an over inflated ego

    • dweezy 2176 says:

      02:29pm | 13/12/12

      Why the Senate? Chavez is looking shaky and Venezuela is closer than OZ to Ecuador.!

    • Jack says:

      02:38pm | 13/12/12

      I’d rather to vote for him than any bastards we have now at least I know that he would try to open and expose the X files from the main political parties.

      Remember what happened to Pauline Hanson who had the guts to attack the establisment…..“shit happens” and Tony wouldn’t like that.

    • Stan says:

      04:12pm | 13/12/12

      And I also believe he is a better candidate than the current independents and Prime Minister and Honest Tony who loves our faulty system and is refusing to rectify it .

      Let’s not forget my fellow Australians, YOUR current PM has lied to you continuosly from Day One.

      A Wikileaks party in the Senate. First off, they could repeal the freedom of information legislation because it would be redundant. Anything you want to know, Senator Assange & Co will leak it for you.

      Australia is in dire need of a political revolution. Go for it Julian!!
      I’m sick of voting our dictators.

      I am so sick of the same old tired faces who do back flips on policies. One minute they’re playing the left wing agenda, then changing their policies to the right, stabbing each other in the back, it’s all disgraceful and disheartening.

      He can be no worse than the bull s##t artists we currently have in there now!

      The Green must be in hell now!

      Julian has my vote. I may even join the party.

    • Gordon says:

      04:28pm | 13/12/12

      In all the palaver bagging Mal the substantive bit has been forgotten: If he runs he’ll simply soak up green votes. A perfect storm of unelectability.

    • Utopia Boy says:

      05:05pm | 13/12/12

      We’d never hear that speech anyway, as the government would have censored the internet so that the IP was blocked.
      He’d be a better Senator than Pauline Hanson.

 

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