Coalition plays straight into GetUp’s hands

By Leith van Onselen

After Liberal MP, Ben Morton, last month accused activist organisation, GetUp!, of being a “front” for Labor and the Greens, and called for the Australian Electoral Commission to recognise GetUp! as an “associated political entity”, Liberal senator Eric Abetz has joined in the bashing in spite of revelations that several Coalition MPs have met with the activist organisation. From The Australian:

Abetz says GetUp! is still a “partisan left-wing front” despite the lobby “dropping stories of occasional meetings” with Liberal MPs.

The conservative Tasmanian said revelations GetUp!! met with Liberal MPs Tim Wilson, Trent Zimmerman and Craig Laundy should not preclude it from being regarded as an associated entity of Labor and the Greens.

He also attacked the claim that “running dead” against Liberal moderates in the last election showed GetUp! was not partisan.

“Having the occasional meeting with a Liberal doesn’t change the fact that GetUp! hands out against Liberals on polling day, funds ads attacking Liberal Leaders and actively campaigns almost exclusively against Liberal candidates,” Senator Abetz said.

“This suggestion that by having a meeting or choosing to not campaign against some Liberal members of parliament somehow makes them less partisan is nonsense”…

GetUp! director Paul Oosting revealed to The Australian [Liberal MPs] Mr Wilson and Mr Zimmerman met left-wing campaigners GetUp! over same-sex marriage, while several government MPs have worked with the organisation in pushing a clean ­energy target.

Meanwhile, Liberal Party of Victoria president, Michael Kroger, has criticised several federal Liberal MPs for holding “secret” meetings with representatives of GetUp!:

[Kroger] told The Australian the organisational wing of the party was ­furious, following revelations backbench MPs Tim Wilson and Trent Zimmerman had met GetUp! over the same-sex marriage vote.

Other moderate Liberal MPs, including cabinet minister Christopher Pyne, have also recently been exposed as having had secret meetings with the hard-left activist group founded by a former Labor staffer and funded with the help of unions.

“It is fair to say that people in the organisational wing are furious,” Mr Kroger said. “They consider GetUp! as a mortal enemy of the Coalition. It was unknown to office bearers that these secret meetings were taking place. If the party’s (conservative) base wasn’t on fire, it certainly is now.”

Whereas Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called for calm, arguing that GetUp meets with politicians from all political parties:

Malcolm Turnbull yesterday ­defended colleagues from his moderates support base who had ­admitted dealing with the Labor-aligned outfit.

“GetUp! goes and calls on MPs all over the place,” he said in Tamworth. “So if you’re a member of parliament you meet everybody. You meet people who agree with you and people who don’t agree with you.”

The Coalition’s shenanigans over GetUp! are counterproductive. Just because GetUp! is a Centre-Left organisation does not mean that it is a front for Labor or The Greens.  Indeed, Labor and The Greens are rather combative towards each other, especially around election time, whereas GetUp! has in the past run several campaigns against Labor on certain issues (e.g. shutting down Australia’s dirty power plants).

One could equally make the case that the Coalition has strong ties to well-resourced industry organisations like the Property Council of Australia, the Business Council of Australia, the Australian Bankers Association, and the Minerals Council, which spend millions of dollars influencing public policy (read Michael West’s enlightening article here).

So it seems the Coalition only supports “free speech” when the subject matter is agreeable to its policy position.

Whatever the case, the Coalition’s incessant protesting over GetUp! is likely to backfire. Giving the organisation so much exposure is only likely to result in more donations and members, empowering it even further.

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Unconventional Economist
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  1. Desperately clutching at straws. Looking for anything to distract from their crisis after crisis after crisis display of incompetence/corruption.

    Crikey, imagine if we took a deeper look at Liberal Party finance and political affiliated activist groups. Would need to shower for a week just to scrub the filth off.

    • How about if all the anti trump mob took a look at the swamp in straya, and were as vocal about what is going on here compared to what TD was supposed to be up to, the site would be filled with critcs.
      Do all you anti trump mob live in glass houses, seems so.

      • They are, why do you think the swamp are going after GetUp! so profusely? Grassroots activism is the antithesis of this corporate cesspit we find ourselves in. Instead of whining about how pointless it all is, they’re out there agitating for political change. Become part of the solution, or get out of the way.

        PS What’s up with the glasshouse/anti trump call? You’re not a closet trumpite that’s been burned?

  2. Careful what you asked for, go after getup and the same will apply to the billionaires club, institute of public affairs.

  3. Just like to point out, because it is continually missed by the Murdoch media and the Gallery, that the Green’s and Labor are separate parties and are in no formal or informal coalition, so it is impossible for GetUp! to be a “front” for them together.

    The fact that GetUp! has a decent working relationship with both the parties that lean to the left shows that it is in fact an independent organisation that has its own ideological positions, ones that broadly gel with both Labor and the Greens.

      • Hey, can you tell me where the wormhole to Bizarro World is located please?
        I’d like to find out if the Melbourne Football Club has won any premierships post 64 and exhibits any signs of a well run organisation in Bizarro World

        Thanks in advance

    • Yep. The Greens and Labor hate each other – they essentially compete for the same pool of left-leaning voters. Some similar views on certain issues doesn’t make them some kind of co-ordinated force.

      • Let’s face it – a lot of the time, neither the ALP nor the Greens are able to form a co-ordinated force within their own party, let alone combined.

      • Terror Australis

        Despite a lot of posturing I’m not sure “hate” is the right word.

        “Frenemies” probably best describes the relationship.

  4. I donated to GetUpfor the first time ever just because of this.
    And then again for anti Adani campaign

    The Libs are systemically dopey.

    I like how the Strayan calls GU HARD LEFT

  5. get up, labor and the greens should all be outraged about out of control right wing neoliberal immigration

  6. ” the Coalition only supports “free speech” when the subject matter is agreeable to its policy position” Yes. It also suggests that perception and the echo chamber of political rhetoric and the TV political spin cycle are the only realities that the political class understands.

  7. Indeed, Labor and The Greens are rather combative towards each other,

    Seems a fairly mild way of putting it – I’d have thought that the only group in politics that the Australian Greens hate more than the ALP would be the NSW Greens.

  8. Hmm. If I understand right the ALP and unions donate to GetUp. Why would they do that? Especially when they want/need money to win elections. Can’t imagine the LNP giving money to big business. Seems clear to me the ALP/unions benefit from GU activities. And the relationship seems different to that of business /LNP.