Get Up! needs to own up to its motives
In the words of Bob Marley, GetUp! – stand up.
GetUp! should stand up and tell Australians who they really are. Are they an activist organisation with a certain political leaning? Are they a pseudo political party aligned with the Greens and Labor? Are they truly independent in their views or do they take advice from particular political identities?
For a long time GetUp! has stood upon the mountain of moral superiority and preached to us ordinary ignorant slobs on everything from economic fairness and workplace relations to the price of petrol and the plight of battery hens.
GetUp!’s loud and proud website claims they don’t back any particular political party and seek only to build an “accountable” Australia.
Having taken part in the political dialogue in this country for so long and having made the recent transition in leadership from Simon Sheikh to Sam Mclean, the time has come for GetUp! to practice what they preach and open themselves to the same scrutiny they so stridently seek to apply to our politicians.
Who determines their public policy? Who makes the call on what campaigns they run? Who are their backers and what influence do they have on GetUp!’s policy direction? How often do they meet with political party officials and on what basis?
The line between truly being independent activists and party political players is critically blurred for GetUp!, especially when they behave exactly like the political operatives they so vehemently deride.
GetUp!’s website states ‘GetUp! is a not-for-profit organisation and relies on small donations to fund its work and in-kind donations from the Australian public. GetUp! does not accept donations from political parties or the Government.’
In what must have been a momentary lapse in their ‘hard-line’ principles, Australian Electoral Commission financial returns documents from 2010-2011 reveal that GetUp! received a ‘small’ donation of $1.12 million from the CFMEU.
Accepting such a sum from one of Australia’s largest and most militant unions, with direct links to the Australian Labor Party, may explain some of GetUp!’s anti-conservative, anti-Coalition, anti-mining, anti-capitalist campaigns.
According to media reports the bulk of the money was spent on an advertising campaign during the 2010 federal election, personally attacking Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.
There is however a rancid irony considering GetUp!’s archives list one of their most vehement campaigns as advocating the complete end to donations to all political groups.
The line between pure social activism and dirty political manoeuvring is further blurred by some of GetUp!’s cynical tactics one would expect to see on an Aaron Sorkin television drama.
For example, GetUp! paid a relatively large sum of money to The Australia Institute to develop the 2012 anti-mining report ‘Pouring Fuel on the Fire. The report decried the supposedly unfair rebates and exemptions available to the Australian mining industry – the most heavily taxed and restricted industry in the country.
Unsurprisingly the report was riddled with unfounded assumptions and technical inaccuracies, failing the most basic tests of fair and comparative research.
The document did feature a small print acknowledgment that GetUp! had commissioned the report however the exact amount of the commissioning ‘donation’ made by GetUp! was not mentioned.
In 2007 the Australian Electoral Commission was forced to chastise GetUp! over its website www.HowShouldIVote.com.au as it breached the Commonwealth Electoral Act in that it was “misleading and deceptive”, always placing the Coalition candidates last.
One of the great freedoms we have in Australia is that people are permitted to gather in protest, and to form organisations with defined ideological views and particular political sympathies.
History has shown however, that the average punter detests being misled and has no patience for groups who loudly push a specific political barrow yet pretend they endorse no particular political movement.
In that context, GetUp! should stand up and admit who they really are or sit down and be quiet.
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