November 2nd 2019

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Murray-Darling Basin Plan based on debunked science

CANBERRA OBSERVED What does it take to knock down GetUp?

TECHNOLOGY Beijing's push to dominate world supply of electronics components

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Hong Kong protestors speak candidly to NCC, as Xi threat calls Tiananmen to mind

LIFE ISSUES Of foetuses and fallacies

LIFE ISSUES To hold the hand ... an answer to euthanasia

LIFE ISSUES Melbourne and Brisbane on the march

QUEENSLAND AFA/NCC forum addresses euthanasia legislation

THE ENVIRONMENT Fresh visit to the Great Barrier Reef in its death throes

COLD WAR HISTORY Was the Vietnam War worth fighting?

HUMOUR England United, and all that ... but with Hume?

MUSIC Usage and abusage: Words what got rhythm

CINEMA AND CULTURE The mirror of villainy

BOOK REVIEW Eclectic example of genre of decline

BOOK REVIEW Brief battle a model for combined arms


RELIGIOUS FREEDOM ABC survey finds majority agree there is unfair discrimination against religious Australians

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What does it take to knock down GetUp?

by NW Contributor

News Weekly, November 2, 2019

The May 2019 federal election campaign was marked by an outlandish bid by activist group GetUp to target not only Coalition seats exclusively, but Coalition seats held by MPs that might broadly be characterised as conservative-leaning.

Independent: Right!

Kevin Andrews, Peter Dutton, Angus Taylor, Christian Porter, Tony Abbott, George Christensen, Nicole Flint, Craig Kelly and Michael Sukkar were among the “extreme hard right” MPs targeted for the GetUp treatment, including blanket letterboxing, phone canvassing and online demonising.

Yet the only one it was successful in unseating was Tony Abbott, and even then there were multiple factors in Mr Abbott losing his seat.

As campaigns go, GetUp’s 2019 effort was a spectacularly unsuccessful one, with $3.5 million wasted on ousting its hated MPs.

Yet the group, which has been described as an ALP and Greens front organisation, claims it is in fact wholly “independent”.

It blames its failure at the election on “big money” political organisations, particularly Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party.

GetUp says it is not aligned with the ALP, but it never actually attacks the ALP, not even ALP MPs who are supportive of a coal export industry.

Instead, it throws its considerable resources only at those Liberal and Nationals MPs the organisation wants to expunge from the Parliament.

It is hard to understand the rationale for GetUp’s hit list but they appear to be guilty of being either patriots, pro-life, strong on border protection, protective of defence spending and on self-reliance and helping people help themselves or a combination of these positions.

The reality is that several board members and paid officers of GetUp have been either senior Labor staffers or union officials, as has been proven in evidence to Senate inquiries.

But in a display of extraordinary chutzpah, in GetUp’s submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Election Matters, it said “big money” was behind the election result.

“This meant that the voices of ordinary Australians were often drowned out,” GetUp claimed.

“GetUp and its members have long advocated for an end to the influence of big money in our politics. The 2019 election was the direct result of the failure to take action against big money.”

GetUp launched its own internal investigation into what went wrong, but blamed everyone else but itself.

But having spectacularly failed, GetUp now wants to change the rules, including capping donations, introducing a cap on expenditure in campaigns. They also want a lower threshold for donation expenditure, real-time disclosure, and a crackdown on “disinformation”.

The irony of all this is astonishing.

The group perennially pedals untruths and misinformation, and rebuffs all attempts to reveal the inner workings or the finances of its organisation, or any links through former ALP staff and operatives.

Health Minister Greg Hunt, who was the subject of an aggressive GetUp campaign in the lead-up to the federal election, says the activist group is effectively Labor’s “campaigning arm” and not an independent body, as it claims.

Menzies Institute chief Nick Cater was also not flattering in his critique of GetUp’s campaign.

“It would be a mistake to say that GetUp achieved nothing at the May election,” Cater said in an opinion piece in The Australian. “It succeeded in making this the meanest, nastiest and most polarised campaign in recent memory.

“Together with the union movement, it sought to influence the result through falsehood and intimidation. Yet its influence was, if anything, in the Coalition’s favour, building sympathy for most of the candidates it attacked and revealing itself to be anything but the spontaneous group of concerned citizens it pretends.”

Regrettably, the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has found that GetUp is not controlled by the Labor Party or the Greens, giving it a leave pass to continue its undemocratic campaigning, which is very often based on dishonest tactics.

The AEC said it did not find sufficient evidence to be able to characterise GetUp as what it called an “associated entity”. But Tasmania Liberal Senator Eric Abetz for one says GetUp remains “highly partisan”, and an “extreme left-wing front” set up with the support of Labor and the unions.

If anything, GetUp is likely to be emboldened by its failure at the last election, and is certain to come back at the next election with a new war chest to play with, including the many donations to GetUp that are made by not-for-profits and other tax-deductible organisations.

Clearly, the Morrison Government has to take a harder look at the laws upon which the AEC bases its assumptions; and the sooner it does this, the better for our democracy.

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