AEC throws out government claim that GetUp is tied to Labor and the Greens

Contributed by Jim Hayes

The Morrison government’s campaign to discredit and destroy GetUp has received a setback.

Its campaign rested on the claim that that the activist organisation is a front for the Labor Party and the Greens and is financially dependent on the unions. This accusation is what was behind the ill-fated and politically engineered raids of the Australian Workers Union and GetUp offices.

GetUp has won the ire of the government because it and his members stand against much of it has been doing, stood for a fairer and greener society and waged a string of successful campaigns that have caused the same government, and those who stand behind it, considerable grief.

GetUp stands for people power.

Some of the high-profile campaigns in 1916-17, the period under question, included Save the Reef, Our Clean Energy Future, Protect Medicare, Better Power, and has played an important role in the defence of the ABS, Australia’s public broadcaster.

Photo from Getty: GetUp’s Sam Regester speaking out against the Adani coal mine in Canberra

Image from GetUp’s campaign to protect Medicare

GetUp campaigning to ave Our ABC

GetUp has also campaigned against the Coalition parties at elections.

Photo from AAP: GetUp campaign director Miriam Lyons has her say on polling day at the Wentworth by-election

This led to pressure on GetUp to declare itself an “Associated Entity” under the Corporations Act 2001, which means, it has to declare its association, meet certain obligations and lodge financial disclosures with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC).

It also led to the creation of a counter organisation calling itself Advance Australia, and claiming to stand for “your voice for a fair go.” It has been mostly ineffective.

Image from the Advance Australia site

GetUp refused to submit to the pressure and the AEC was brought in to investigate.

But the result is that the AEC found that GetUp is not an Associated Entity, after considering all the documents submitted by all parties. The government’s side had failed to submit any evidence to back its allegation.

In these conditions, the result is not surprising. For the AEC to come to any other conclusion, would have put the independence of the AEC into question in the public’s eyes, and this would impact on the credibility of Australia’s electoral system. The government’s vendetta against GetUp was not going to take precedence over this, without hard and fast evidence.

GetUp’s national director Paul Oosting commented that this is the third time the commission had ruled in the organisation’s favour.

Photo by James Croucher: GetUp national director Paul Oosting with campaign director Kelsey Cooke at their headquarters in 2016

In a released statement he said: “The hard right forced this expensive two-year investigation on the GetUp movement, in the hope that it would silence all one million of us. But it has done exactly the opposite.”

First assistant commissioner Tim Courtney said in a cover letter with the report: “we have reached a conclusion that there is insufficient material and evidence to show that GetUp was an Associated Entity at the relevant time.”

This victory has vindicated the organisation’s insistence that it is politically independent and financially reliant on the contributions it receives from its members and the public.

The Morrison government comes out of this with its reputation damaged that little bit more.

It does not mean that the campaign to discredit and destroy GetUp has come to an end. On the contrary. Once the authors of the attack have finished licking their wounds, they will be on the offensive again. And this is not only those in the Morrison government. The whole privileged elite straddling over Australia is keen to get rid of an organisation that threatens its cosy privileges and expose the lengths it goes to in order to maintain its position.

One thing is for certain. Millions of Australians will continue to stand up for GetUp. And this is a formidable force.

1 Comment on "AEC throws out government claim that GetUp is tied to Labor and the Greens"

  1. Jim, in your article you say on the last para,”One thing is for certain. Millions of Australians will continue to stand up for GetUp. And this is a formidable force.”
    That is a very true statement. Many of us who are pensioners, & I am am on aged pension, contribute our little bit of $5, $10, $15, $20m or so per month. Now that may not appear much to some people, but on a pension that is below the poverty line as our Australian aged pension is, it is quite hard to do. But we DO IT.
    Why we do it is because we Oldies are from a fighting generation that have seen wars & hardship, we know the privileged few are always grasping for more, we know fairness and the old ideas of ‘fair play’ are almost gone. We know such ideas are actually totally unknown in the minds of those who believe they are of the ‘privileged few’; yet forever they grasp at for more for themselves.
    That is what is why we need organisations of the people, like GetUp is people based & led organisation. We need them to combat and overwhelm the greed & avarice of the ruling elite minority. We need these along with and separate to political organisations even if they are trying to do a similar thing, serve the interests of the vast majority. It was good this concept was recognised by the AEC.

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