Skip to main content
GetUp!
GetUp!

Media Releases - November 2016

Media Release, 29 November 2016

GetUp: major parties must quit addiction to secret corporate cash


GetUp has welcomed the Labor Party's new bill to ban offshore donations and reform political finance rules around transparency, but says more steps are needed to reduce the influence of big corporate money in Australian politics.

Natalie O'Brien, Economic Fairness Campaign Director said the move was an important acknowledgement by Labor of the problem of corporate money in politics and that reform is urgently needed.

"Both major parties have been addicted to secret corporate cash for far too long, so it's positive to see Labor making moves to quit.

"For years, big corporations have been pumping massive sums of money into political party coffers, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.

"Just a few weeks ago 3,300 GetUp members chipped in to fund new research into the river of hidden Dark Money flowing to political parties.

"It revealed that 63% of Liberal Party's total private income for the 2013-14 election year went entirely undisclosed, compared to 50% of Labor's in the same period.

"It's clear that measures to boost transparency of money in politics are desperately overdue.

"GetUp members have developed a 5-point-plan to get big money out of politics, and Labor's bill would take a big step in the right direction.

GetUp's five point reform plan:

  1. End the shroud of secrecy: require all donations above $500 to be publicly disclosed on the internet in real-time, including donations to and from affiliated entities.
  2. Stop the money game: cap the amount any individual or corporation can donate at $1000 per financial year, and introduce expenditure caps on election campaigns to remove incentives to amass huge political fighting funds.
  3. Stop offshore entities buying political influence: prohibit any corporation not registered in Australia, or any individual who doesn't have citizenship or residency, from making donations.
  4. A corruption watchdog with teeth: create an independent federal corruption watchdog with broad investigative powers.
  5. Close the revolving door: prevent Members of Parliament from engaging in lobbying work for a period of three years after they leave office.


For more information call Kirsti Gorringe on 0431 047 358

Media Release, 29 November 2016

$5 billion dollars worth of political favours for offshore oil and gas


The Australian Parliament should launch an inquiry into into why the companies benefiting from the gas boom are failing to pay their way.

A new investigation yesterday revealed $5 billion dollars of dodgy deductions being claimed by multinational oil and gas companies to avoid contributing their fair share to Australia's schools and hospitals.

Miriam Lyons Environmental Justice Campaign Director for GetUp said there is no more obvious case of big business having too much power over government than allowing notorious tax-cheats like Chevron to make up their own minds about how much tax they should pay.

"Notorious tax-cheat Chevron is effectively being handed our resources for free. The Australian Parliament should launch an inquiry this week into into why the companies profiting from the gas boom are failing to pay their way.

"And they should take immediate action to end some of the most outrageous subsidies - like the so called 'uplift rate' used to inflate the exploration expenses that oil and gas companies deduct from their tax bills.

"These fossil fuel giants are punching huge holes in the public purse. Just the other week the Turnbull government decided to stop 500,000 ordinary Australians, including nurses, teachers and sales workers, from claiming $104 million worth of deductions for their work uniforms. How is it that this government failed to notice the $5 billion in dodgy deductions being claimed by oil and gas giants?

"And last week we saw reports that Australia is collecting less revenue from its gas and oil industry than countries like Indonesia and Nigeria.

"This is more than just a wasted opportunity to invest in schools and hospitals, this is a blatant attempt to keep the very industries alive that are choking our planet. Why is the government putting tax breaks for gas and oil giants ahead of children's futures?

"Here's a clue: the companies that benefit from these dodgy deductions have paid over one million dollars to major parties over the past three years.

"And those are just the donations we know about. It could be many times that, given the evidence in our Dark Money report that only 15% of the major parties' income is transparently declared to the AEC.


"This is what you expect to see when big corporations have too much power over government. Not only are they getting away with polluting our air for free, they're not even paying their fair share of tax.

"Enough is enough, Prime Minister Turnbull. It's time these giants stopped squashing the public interest and are pulled into line.

For more information call Kirsti Gorringe on 0431 047 358

Media Release, 25 November 2016

QLD Supreme Court puts Reef health back in government's hands


Today's decision by the Supreme Court of Queensland makes it even more important that federal and state Environment Ministers Josh Frydenberg and Steven Miles take responsibility for protecting the Great Barrier Reef from the Carmichael mine.

The court upheld the Queensland Environment Department's decision to issue an Environmental Authority to the mine despite its threats to the local environment.

Miriam Lyons, Environmental Justice Campaigner for GetUp said the decision highlights how poor environmental assessment in Queensland is backed by weak environmental protection legislation.

"The revolving door between politics and the coal lobby has left us with environmental laws too weak to protect our beautiful natural wonders from the rapacious appetites of big mining companies.  

"If it goes ahead, the Carmichael mine will guzzle up precious water supplies, destroy the Great Barrier Reef and hold us back from energy of the future.

"Alarm bells are going off, but governments keep hitting snooze.

"It's time to wake up to the threat that is already upon us - continuing to barrack for this mine comes at a cost to us all.

"When Josh Frydenberg and Steven Miles attended the Reef Ministerial Council today, I hope they took a moment to look each other in the eyes and admit that, unless we stop building new coal mines, the Reef is cactus.   

"The special relationship between Adani and our major parties has got to stop - the company's excessive influence over our governments is all too clear.

"Earlier this month the Queensland government created a legislative loophole specifically for Adani, allowing the mine to access to billions of litres of free groundwater without community rights of submission or appeal.

"Time and time again, Queenslanders best interests - water, air, and the 69,000 jobs that depend on the Reef - are jeopardised in favour of the profits of offshore mining giants.

For more information call Kirsti Gorringe on 0431 047 358

Media Release, 24 November 2016

Christmas could be even more 'super': Government needs to do more for low-income women


GetUp said low income women, making the budget stretch this Christmas time, are the demographic most in need of ongoing superannuation reform.

Natalie O'Brien acknowledged today's superannuation reforms passed by Parliament were a modest step in the right direction, but said they could be a lot more 'super' – particularly for low income women in retirement.

"This Christmas, many kids won't get presents from their grandparents. Budgets are too tight as many older Australians are just trying to keep their head above water.

"That's why we need to rebalance the current superannuation system to ensure low income people, especially women, are able to live securely in their retirement.

"Our super system gives too many tax breaks to people who don't need them – acting as some kind of onshore tax haven.

"We could raise as much as $9.6 billion each and every year, simply by reducing the generous tax concessions for the top end of town.

"The retirement income gap between women and men is massive. The average man's super balances on retirement is more than double that of your average woman.

"Homelessness for women is at record levels. We could do more to help older Australians into secure housing by redirecting some of the wasteful handouts in our super system.

"This would see more older Australians have safety and security in their retirement", Ms O'Brien said.

For more information call Kirsti Gorringe on 0431 047 358

Media Release, 24 November 2016

Turnbull is coming for Grandad – unless people power can stop him: GetUp


Mark Rogers is a 66-year-old grandfather from suburban Sydney. He runs a community website called Save Medicare, where he collects reporting and analysis on government changes to Medicare.

Last Thursday, Mr Rogers received a letter from the Solicitor General threatening 'damages and costs' if he didn't shut down his home-made website within 48 hours and agree never to use Medicare branding again.

Natalie O'Brien, GetUp's Economic Fairness Campaigns Director, said these were petty intimidation tactics from a government looking to silence dissent on Medicare.

"This is a true David v Goliath story – a vindictive government using the enormous legal resources at their disposal to intimidate everyday people.

"Enraged by their poor election showing, the government is trying to silence community members speaking up about their concerns for Medicare.

"It certainly begs the question: how many more people fighting for local issues in their communities have been silenced by these types of bully tactics?

"With lawyers breathing down Mr Rogers neck, we've launched a petition calling on the government to back off and stop its bullying.

"We'll prove that attempts to silence community voices on Medicare will only make them louder.

"The ability for a citizen to speak out about issues that directly affect them is a basic democratic right. We are certainly considering the legal ramifications of Mr Roger's case", Ms O'Brien said.

Mark Rogers said he has not yet taken down his website despite the legal threat.

"It's important that people know the truth about Medicare – that's why I've been working on getting information out through my website since December 2014.

"I fit it in where I can, around babysitting the grandkids and spending time with family.

"The government is acting as if I've committed a terrible crime – and yet I only disagree with their direction. I see a stronger Medicare building a better future for Australians.

"This is a government who is so concerned with free speech, and yet here they are trying to stop me telling the truth about what they're doing to Medicare", said Mr Rogers.

See Mr Roger's 'offending' website
See the Solicitor General's letter
See the GetUp petition

For more information call Kirsti Gorringe on 0431 047 358

Media Release, 18 November 2016

Mike Baird is bad for democracy: GetUp


In the latest evidence the big business have too much power over our politicians, the NSW government has just savaged the country's only independent corruption watchdog.

Natalie O'Brien, GetUp's Economic Fairness Campaigns Director, said the Independent Commission Against Corruption – or ICAC – was Australia's gold standard in political accountability.

"Given NSW's abysmal track record of political corruption, it's absolutely extraordinary that NSW Premier Mike Baird has just sacked the sitting Commissioner and savaged the independent body's powers.

"With the growing influence of Big Money on the national reform agenda, Mr Baird's moves could have a chilling effect on a growing push for a Federal ICAC.

"Since yesterday night, over 18,000 people have signed a petition and 900 people have chipped in to get a massive billboard in Mike Baird's electorate.

"The NSW ICAC has exposed rank corruption across both major parties, not to mention forced a NSW Premier to resign. It's this important work that is critical for restoring faith in our political institutions.

"This is more relevant than ever, with President-elect Trump riding a wave of disillusionment and resentment into the Oval Office.

"Right now, off the back of the US election, there is a major opportunity to push for an overhaul of Australia's hopeless donations disclosure laws and far-reaching anti-corruption reforms. But Premier Baird's move sets a dangerous precedent.

"We're sending a powerful message that Australians won't stand for politicians deciding who can get away with corruption and who can't.

"If politicians won't hold themselves to account – then we'll do it for them", she said.

Sign the ICAC petition now and share it with everyone you know: http://www.getup.org.au/save-icac'

For more information call Kirsti Gorringe on 0431 047 358

Media Release, 17 November 2016

Big mining threatens government with ad campaign


The Queensland Resources Council has demanded the Queensland Government give more special treatment to the coal industry or face a massive advertising campaign, despite the danger it poses to the Great Barrier Reef and tourism industry.

Miriam Lyons GetUp's Environmental Justice Campaign Director said new Queensland Resources Council boss and Former Abbott Government Minister used his first day on the job to deliver a veiled threat to the Queensland state government to give more favours to the coal industry.

"This is what it looks like when an industry has too much power.

"The Resources Council want the laws that protect people and the environment removed or weakened. This threatens the Great Barrier Reef and the 69,000 jobs which rely on it.

"The mining and burning of coal is the leading cause of global warming. It causes the waters of the Reef to warm and threatens the tourism industry.

"The mining industry wants more special treatment. They have too much power over government already. They want more free water, more taxpayer handouts and to pay fewer royalties, money that goes to schools and hospitals.

"Yesterday the new QRC boss called for a mining industry ad campaign similar to the one that rolled the Rudd government. He'd clearly like to scare the current government into rolling over and pushing through mega mines like the Adani Carmichael coal mine.

"The only people who would benefit from this ad campaign are the offshore shareholders of mega mining companies.

"These groups feel threatened by environmental groups who merely insist that they comply with Australian laws and not ruin the environment and the economy which relies on it. The very idea of accountability leads them to threaten the government with expensive misinformation campaigns.

For more information call Kirsti Gorringe on 0431 047 358

Media Release, 16 November 2016

Big Bank money flows to politicians at a rate nine times higher than publicly declared: GetUp


GetUp has today released new information that shows money flows between the banks and political parties at a rate that is nine times higher than publicly declared donations.

Natalie O'Brien, Economics Fairness Campaign Director, said this stream of cash mixes legitimate income with backdoor donations, concealing them from public scrutiny.

"Australia's system of political finance disclosure is completely broken.

"In the last 10 years, ANZ has submitted a political donations return declaring that they give the same size donation to each side worth $50-100,000 each year, with an extra $150,000 in an election year.

"However, when we take into account 'other receipts', ANZ's money flow was up to nine times the size of the declared amount.

"Money from ANZ flows much more strongly to the Liberal Party, and it peaked (almost doubling) in years where crucial decisions were being made about the controversial 'Future of Financial Advice' reforms of the financial services industry.

"Over the past decade, the NAB's publicly declared donations were of similar size to both parties until the Future of Financial Services reforms. At that time, the money they publicly declared showed they were giving two to three times as much to the Liberal Party who opposed the reforms.

"But this isn't the end of the story. NAB's public disclosure significantly understated the amount of money flowing into the Liberal Party through 'other receipts' – which tallied to over a million, when taking into account the different party branches and their associated entities.

"Westpac and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia do not declare significant donations to the parties, however, they do make large loans to the parties' fundraising bodies.

"In 2010-2011 the parties and their associated entities reported receipts of over $27 million from Westpac, mostly in the form of loans to their fundraising arms.  

"The Commonwealth Bank has similarly been in the business of making loans to party fundraising bodies, loaning $25 million to Labor's funding company Labor Holdings during the Rudd years.  

"Without knowing the terms and conditions of these loans it is difficult to know what financial support, if any, they amount to for the parties.

"It is impossible to know how much of the cash flowing between the Big Banks and our politicians is legitimate and how much of it is concealed donations.

"It is this uncertainty that undermines the integrity of our political finance system", she said.

This comes as GetUp releases its 'Dark Money: The hidden millions in Australia's political finance system' report revealing a large and growing proportion of private party income which cannot be transparently attributed to specific political donors.

GetUp will appear before the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters in Sydney on Wednesday to present the reports' findings and call for a radical overhaul of Australia's system of political finance disclosure.

See the minisite here: https://darkmoney.getup.org.au
See the full report here: https://www.getup.org.au/dark-money-full-report

For more information call Kirsti Gorringe on 0431 047 358

Media Release, 15 November 2016

Living in the pocket of the coal and gas companies: Government should crackdown on big polluters, not environment groups


Reports today in the Courier Mail suggest that the government are caving in to big business, particularly the coal and gas lobby, at the expense of ordinary citizens who depend on environment groups to stand up for land, water, and iconic natural wonders like the Great Barrier Reef.

Miriam Lyons, Environmental Justice Campaign Director at GetUp, said the Federal Government's attacks on environment groups are further evidence that big business is corrupting our democracy.

"It's embarrassing that the government would attack environment groups, who rely on small donations from concerned citizens to defend our natural heritage, at the behest of big multinational companies who send their massive profits offshore.  

"If the government was seriously concerned about taxpayer money being used for activities that don't have 'tangible environmental outcomes' they would cut their $7.7 billion dollars a year in subsidies to big polluters.

"The government's argument is completely ridiculous. It a fig leaf covering their blatant advocacy for the interests of big offshore coal and gas corporations.

"Many of these companies like Adani and Chevron dodge tax while getting special treatment to make dangerous products that kill people.

"Coal pollution alone kills over 300,000 people in China and over 100,000 in India every year. It's no wonder these countries are moving away from it as fast as possible.

"The mining and burning of coal is also the leading cause of global warming. It's caused the waters of the Great Barrier Reef to become warmer, threatening the jobs of 69,000 people in the tourism industry.

"These companies find it so difficult to simply follow the weak environmental laws we have, that they lobby the government to water down the laws and attack the only tools that ordinary people have to defend our local environment.

"Arguments in the Courier Mail today are simply rubbish. There's barely a natural place in Australia of international significance that hasn't benefited from the work of environment groups. Usually on the smell of an oily rag and the blood, sweat, and tears of volunteers.

"And if the Courier Mail, who regularly run the propaganda of offshore mining companies, want to lecture people on tax arrangements, they should try paying some tax, as records in 2013-2014 reveal that News Australia Holdings paid none," said Ms Lyons.

For more information call Kirsti Gorringe on 0431 047 358

Media Release, 15 November 2016

'Dark Money': The hidden millions flowing into Australian political parties


A new report 'Dark Money: The hidden millions corrupting Australian politics' has been released by GetUp today, exposing the failure of Australia's political finance disclosure regime.

The report reveals a large and growing proportion of 'dark money' in Australia's political system, where 'dark money' refers to the portion of private party income which cannot be transparently attributed to specific political donors.

Authored by Dr Belinda M Edwards at the University of New South Wales, the report finds that in the 2013-14 election year:

  • The two major parties declared less than 25% of their privately raised income as donations to the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC).
  • Approximately half of these donations came from party fundraising bodies. As a result, only 12-15% of the two major parties' incomes can be clearly and easily attributed to specific political donors.
  • This means, the majority of major party income was undisclosed dark money – 63% ($48 million) in the case of the Liberal Party and 50% ($23 million) for the Labor Party.
  • 79% ($4 million) of the Nationals income, and 85% ($8.9 million) of the Greens income, was undisclosed dark money, however the total sums involved are far lower.
  • Over the last decade, donations declared to the AEC have made up a declining proportion of the Liberal Party's income, dropping from 30% in the 2007-08 election year to 28% in 2010-11, to 25% in 2013-14. For the Labor Party, the pattern is less clear.
Australian law requires all payments to political parties over $13,200 to be publicly declared. The Labor Party and the Greens disclose more than they are required to, due to transparency commitments from both parties to declare all payments over $1,000. The Greens also make this information publicly available on their website.

Natalie O'Brien, Campaigns Director at GetUp, says that where such huge proportions of party incomes are not transparently disclosed, it throws considerable doubt over the whole disclosure system.

"By piecing together fragments of publicly available data, this research reveals millions of dollars in dark money hidden from public scrutiny.

"Australian law requires all payments to politicians over $13,200 to be publicly declared – an important transparency measure to stop corruption.

"But right now there are gaping legal loopholes that see tens of millions of dollars funnelled into the pockets of our politicians with no oversight, no accountability.

"Using these loopholes, it's possible to funnel $20 million a year to political parties with zero scrutiny. The current disclosure system is completely broken.

"Over two thirds of voters say Big Business has too much influence over our politicians.It's clear, Australians are losing faith in a system that allows big money payoffs to politicians.

"We've been working with legal and constitutional experts to develop a reform agenda that will return transparency, accountability and integrity to our political system.

"We need to end the shroud of secrecy and require all donations to a party or party group above $500 a year to be publicly disclosed on the internet in real-time.

"A mammoth 85% of Australians support greater transparency and real time disclosure of money given to politicians.

"We need to restore trust in our political institutions so we don't end up with US-style resentment and distrust", she said.

GetUp will appear before the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters in Sydney on Wednesday to present the reports' findings and call for a radical overhaul of Australia's system of political finance disclosure.

How do they do it:

There are three main legal loopholes that can be used to hide dark money within the system.

  1. Affiliated entities:  Political parties have set up a range of "affiliated entities" or fundraising clubs – such as The Free Enterprise Foundation (Liberal) and Labor Holdings (ALP) – that obscures the origins of payments they receive. Payments to affiliated entities don't need to be disclosed.
  2. Other receipts:  Political parties can use creative accounting techniques to classify payments as "other receipts" instead of "donations" – meaning they get mixed in with all other income like share dividends and service fees for reporting purposes.


  3. Donation splitting:  Donations over $13,200 need to be disclosed, but by splitting payments into smaller chunks, donors can avoid detection. These chunks might be distributed between party state and territory branches, or simply staggered over a series of days. Using this technique, a donor could donate $20 million per year without disclosing a cent.


See the minisite here: https://darkmoney.getup.org.au
See the full report here: https://www.getup.org.au/dark-money-full-report

For more information call Kirsti Gorringe on 0431 047 358

Media Release, 11 November 2016

Malcolm Turnbull should immediately reign in the far-right of his party advocating a Trump-style politics of division, said GetUp!


GetUp has today demanded that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull immediately repudiate comments from the extreme right of his party who have wasted no time in promoting policies that attack ethnic minorities in the wake of Donald Trump's election victory.

Responding to former Prime Minister Tony Abbott's interview with Fran Kelly this morning, where he expressed his support for Donald Trump and renewed his demands to amend Section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act, GetUp National Director Paul Oosting said "It is concerning to to see people in our government rush to parrot the type of damaging, divisive rhetoric we have seen from Trump's presidential campaign."

"Malcolm Turnbull should be swift and unequivocal in denouncing this kind of behaviour by members of his party.

"We should not be naive. It has barely been 48 hours since Trump's victory, and already social media is flooded with stories of verbal and physical attacks on minorities across America. This is similar to Brexit which saw an immediate rise in hate crimes due to the bitter, racialised rhetoric used in that campaign.

"We cannot give license to this sort of speech through a lack of leadership or for political opportunism.

"In a time when we are seeing dangerous, violent, far-right groups like Reclaim Australia mobilise with increasing visibility and confidence, it is irresponsible for Malcolm Turnbull to allow comments like Mr Abbott's go unchecked.

"Malcolm Turnbull should be taking steps to protect communities from the real effects of racism and marginalisation at school, in the workforce, and on the streets. Instead we have members of his own party speaking at Reclaim Australia rallies and endorsing the election of Donald Trump.

"The continued attempt to make the Racial Discrimination Act a significant political issue is a deeply disturbing, anti-multicultural trend that the Liberals cannot wash their hands of.

"With increasing inequality in our schools and health system, and a cruel and broken immigration system that punishes and abuses people seeking asylum, our communities need real solutions, not an agenda of fear and division," said Oosting.

For more information call Kirsti Gorringe on 0431 047 358

Media Release, 10 November 2016

Water defenders vow to keep fighting to protect Queensland's water after water protections weakened


The Queensland Parliament last night passed laws that, while introducing some important water protections, give special treatment to Adani's Carmichael mine.

"While the Carmichael mine will still require a water licence, the rights of farmers and the community to stand up in court to protect their access to water have been taken away - but only for the Adani project," said Ellen Roberts from GetUp.

"This special treatment for Adani is grossly unfair and privileges this project over all other water users. It seems as though Adani is now writing Queensland's water laws.

"The Carmichael mine will use over 12 billion litres of water every year and have a devastating impact on local and regional water resources.

"We polled Queenslanders and found that 70% objected to foreign owned mining companies having free access to Queensland's ground water. And 78% supported the right of farmers to stand up in court and protect their access to water.

"But unfortunately, in the case of the Adani project we've seen those rights significantly weakened. The Queensland government has put the interests of Adani ahead of the wishes of their voters and the rights of farmers.

"We congratulate Rob Pyne and Peter Wellington who fought hard to have stronger protections for water in this process, but were unfortunately unsuccessful.

"While the project has got special treatment from the Labor government, claims that Adani is exempt from a water licence are simply not true. The company will be subject to departmental processes, and will have their water use assessed by an expert panel.

"Big coal companies might be able to browbeat Queensland politicians, but the community is resolute - giving coal companies special deals must not be at the expense of everyday Queenslanders.

"GetUp members will continue to campaign for strong reforms to ensure the community's right to water is protected and mining companies aren't given a free run when it comes to our precious groundwater." said Roberts.

For more information call Kirsti Gorringe on 0431 047 358

Media Release, 7 November 2016

GetUp: Plebiscite removed, pass marriage equality laws now


With the plebiscite removed, Malcolm Turnbull needs to pass marriage equality laws now said GetUp.

The defeat of Tony Abbott's plebiscite today means Australia is closer to achieving marriage equality, but the job it still not done by the majority of Australians elected representatives.  


 Sally Rugg, Marriage Equality Campaign Director said after defeating the plebiscite, supporters of marriage equality are now ready to make marriage equality real.  

"Poll after poll shows Australians want marriage equality. The majority of parliamentarians want marriage equality. Just get it done.

"Energy and morale among the LGBTQIA+ community is very high. We're going to get this done. This is about love, and you can't stop love.


"GetUp members recently crowd-funded to buy a 6m x 6m billboard in Malcolm Turnbull's electorate, calling out his personal failure to deliver marriage equality, due to his pact with the far-right of his party.

"We will continue to raise pressure on politicians to do the right thing, we will stare down the hard right extremists holding Australia back.

"We'll continue to work in strong coalition with our friends at Australians for Equality, Australian Marriage Equality, the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, PFLAG and just.equal and many more groups. 



 "Rather than fighting for the freedom to offend, we call on the Liberal National Party to fight for the freedom to love and be married.

"Put aside partisanship and work together to achieve marriage equality. You can do this by Christmas.


"72% of people support allowing  LGBTQIA+ couples and rainbow families to have the same basic rights of equality, and a more loving and inclusive Australia," said Rugg.

For more information call Kirsti Gorringe on 0431 047 358

Media Release, 7 November 2016

Malcolm Turnbull's attack on Human Rights Commission is a sad case of pandering to the far-right, said GetUp


GetUp has today demanded that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull withdraw his attacks on the Human Rights Commission and make a real commitment to protecting multiculturalism rather than attempting to dismantle existing legal protections for racial and ethnic minorities.

Malcolm Turnbull's recent attack on the Human Rights Commission and his new calls for an inquiry into Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act are a sad case of pandering to the far-right, said Shen Narayanasamy, Human Rights Campaign Co-Director for GetUp.

"What we have seen from the Prime Minister, both during his campaign and after being elected, is a willingness to damage the foundations of multicultural harmony in this country, and fair treatment of minority groups as a way to bargain with the hard-right.

"This new attack on the Human Rights Commission and protections within the Racial Discrimination Act is just another sad attempt by right wing dinosaurs of the Liberal party to use fear and division as a distraction from real issues.

"After a weekend in which far right groups demonstrated against the government-backed resettlement of refugees fleeing war torn syria, Malcolm Turnbull should be taking steps to protect communities from far right groups like Reclaim Australia and Pauline Hanson's One Nation party. Instead we have members of his own party speaking at Reclaim Australia rallies and endorsing the election of Donald Trump.

"The ridiculous attempt to make the racial discrimination act a significant political issue is a deeply disturbing anti-multicultural trend that the Liberals cannot wash their hands of.

"With increasing inequality in our school and health system, the Liberal party is resurrecting this issue because it is well and truly out of any ideas for genuine progress for the Australian community." said Narayanasamy.

For more information call Kirsti Gorringe on 0431 047 358

Media Release,4 November 2016

Respected campaigner Dr. Phil Ireland to chair GetUp! board


GetUp! is pleased to announce that respected international campaign leader, Dr Phil Ireland will Chair the million member strong organisation.

Dr Ireland has a deep and proven experience with similar organisations around the world, and will bring a record of success and solid management to GetUp.

Having previously worked across a range of progressive member based campaigning organisations including running the general election campaign of 38 Degrees (UK), a senior advisor at Purpose (USA), the Director of Operations United Voice NSW and leading Oxfam's advocacy engagement with Australia and the Pacific in the United Nations climate change negotiations, Dr Ireland is well suited to the new voluntary position.

Dr Ireland will replace Associate Professor Sarah Maddison, who has served for the past six years. Professor Maddison steered the organisation through a number of great campaign wins and, most recently, an effective federal election campaign.

Dr Ireland said "I would like to thank Sarah Maddison for her stewardship over the past six years, overseeing this organisation grow into a powerful force. Her leadership of the board has set the highest standards which I look forward to continuing.

Paul Oosting, GetUp National Director said "Phil brings a great wealth of knowledge and experience and we're excited to welcome him to this role. We have a great team and kickass campaigns, and we're going to keep taking on the hard right of Australian politics.  

"We're also campaigning hard on the issues our members care about, economic fairness, environmental justice, marriage equality and human rights and the board's experience and expertise will continue to drive and guide us.

"The board is at the forefront of guiding our strategy, Phil is a respected campaigner, social justice advocate and understands how we operate most effectively.

"Phil gets it. He understands the power of member based organisations like GetUp and will assist us over the next crucial year in Australia.

"The movement has grown to over one million members calling for a more just, fair and thriving Australia.

"And we wouldn't be in the position we are in without the incredible work of Sarah Maddison played on the board. She oversaw the GetUp management, guiding the organisation to a position where it is stronger than ever culminating in a powerful election campaign. We cannot thank her enough ," said Mr Oosting.

For more information call Kirsti Gorringe on 0431 047 358

Media Release, 3 November 2016

The Carmichael mine - critical for whom?


Further disturbing evidence has emerged of the government's cosy back-door relationship with offshore mining giant Adani. Adani's Carmichael coal mine is the only private commercial project in history to have been deemed "critical infrastructure" by the government.

Environmental Justice Campaign Director Miriam Lyons said the report shows that all members of the Queensland Parliament must vote in favour of the water protection bill currently before parliament to protect the critical groundwater that farmers rely on.

"This is a make or break decision. The cross-benchers must vote in favour of the water protection bill or risk betraying their constituents.

"We need to see these water laws passed and strengthened to ensure that the community has some basic rights and that mining companies don't get a free run with precious groundwater.

"Polling shows that 78% of people are concerned that farmers could lose the right to object in court to a coal mine like Carmichael interfering with their access to groundwater.

"70% of those polled disagreed with foreign-owned mining companies getting free access to groundwater.

"And only 25% of people believe a foreign-owned coal mine should be considered critical infrastructure for Queensland.

"This was a dirty trick for a dangerous mine - allowing decisions to be fast-tracked by removing the community's right to challenge Adani, putting interests of the company above the needs of Australians.

"Adani has continued to receive special treatment from its political backers, and the community are resolute - the interests of giant mining corporations must not be put above those of everyday Australians.

"This bill is an opportunity for the Queensland Parliament to send the message that the community matters more than big offshore mining corporations.

"Farmers and residents in surrounding areas all require water. It's now up to the cross-benchers to back the farmers by blocking this legislation.

For more information call Kirsti Gorringe on 0431 047 358

Media Release, 2 November 2016

Splitting up families is not a resolution to offshore detention disgrace


Rumours today of a government plan to resettle people who sought asylum in Australia to third countries describe a situation that would split families across the world, tear kids out of Australian schools and leave others languishing in indefinite detention, living in unsafe conditions on Manus Island and Nauru.

A new bill proposed by the Turnbull government would place a lifetime ban on people that sought safety in Australia after July 2013 from ever setting foot in Australia. GetUp will be calling on it's members to lobby Members of Parliament to reject the bill as it is a cruel attempt to further destabilise vulnerable people.

There's over 20 families split between offshore detention and Australia. There's also over 300 people in Australia who are worried about being suddenly deported under the government's proposed changes.

The Australian people have spoken on this. We know the majority of Australians want the government to let them stay, after ten of thousands of people - including State Premiers from both sides of politics - mobilised to prevent their removal earlier this year.

Matthew Phillips, Human Rights Director at GetUp, said there are families currently split between Nauru and Manus Island who will be permanently torn apart if the government further outsources care of those currently on Manus and Nauru to a third country.

"Nayser is a man currently trapped on Manus Island. His family have lived in Sydney for three years. Is the government seriously so cruel that it will subject this man to never being able see his kids again? Or do they want to tear them out of school and send them across the world too?

"Many of the people affected by this cruel policy are children born in Australia. What this policy signals to them is that maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but at some stage in the future the government will remove them back to an uncertain future.

The Government's policy of offshore detention is in disarray. The companies paid billions to operate the centres are walking away, and the PNG court has ruled the centre on Manus Island to be illegal.

A newspaper article based on rumours does not represent a plan, and the government's announcement of a lifetime ban is a cruel distraction that Peter Dutton has failed to find a resolution for those he has unlawfully detained in abusive conditions on Manus Island and Nauru for three years.

The only decent and viable option is to bring them here, and to let those already living in our communities stay.  

     "We cannot ignore our responsibility for these vulnerable people just because it's politically expedient. We owe these people protection. They deserve the opportunity to rebuild their lives.

"We call on the government to stop pandering to the worst elements in our politics and to adopt a policy that doesn't destroy families and rip kids out of schools", said Matthew Phillips.

For more information call Kirsti Gorringe on 0431 047 358

Media Release, 2 November 2016

Senator Canavan defends system rigged by billionaire coal companies over democratic demands for reform


MInister for the Resources Industry, Senator Matthew Canavan has chosen to attack GetUp's one million members rather than engage positively with the push to get the influence of Big Money out of politics.

The Senator, who is currently pushing for a dangerous coal mine in Queensland that risks the Great Barrier Reef, attacked GetUp for calling for a cap on the amount any individual or corporation can donate.

Paul Oosting, National Director, said Senator Canavan's too busy defending the interests of major Liberal National Party donors, like Adani, to try and reform the current broken situation which sees everyday people lose out.

"Senator Canavan is trying to distract from real issues of democratic integrity – the limitless cash that floods our political system.

"Companies like Adani are donating gross sums to both sides of politics, and getting special treatment in return, through massive subsidies and fast tracked approvals.

"The fact is, according to latest polling, the vast majority of Australians – 67.4% – think multinational corporations like Adani have too much power over our politicians.

"Senator Canavan would rather cheerlead for Adani than push for jobs in renewables, and protect the tourism industry from the damage caused by mining and burning coal.

"People are sick and tired of big corporations getting their way. That's why they are coming together to take on the billionaire class and reclaim our democracy for the people.

"Our five point reform plan will limit the influence of billionaire coal corporations – and amplify the small contributions of everyday people.

We hope Senator Canavan and his colleagues will stop playing political games and give it serious consideration", said Mr Oosting.

GetUp's five point plan to rebuild our democracy:

  1. 1. End the shroud of secrecy: require all donations above $500 to be publicly disclosed on the internet in real-time, including donations to and from affiliated entities.
  2. 2. Stop the money game: cap the amount any individual or corporation can donate at $1000 per financial year, and introduce expenditure caps on election campaigns to remove incentives to amass huge political fighting funds.
  3. 3. Stop offshore entities buying political influence: prohibit any corporation not registered in Australia, or any individual who doesn't have citizenship or residency, from making donations.
  4. 4. A corruption watchdog with teeth: create an independent federal corruption watchdog with broad investigative powers.
  5. 5. Close the revolving door: prevent Members of Parliament from engaging in lobbying work for a period of three years after they leave office.


For more information call Kirsti Gorringe on 0431 047 358

Media Release,1 November 2016

GetUp!'s five point plan to get Big Money out of politics


GetUp will today submit a six point reform plan to get big money out of politics for consideration by the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM).



Paul Oosting, GetUp's National Director, said the Committee should seize the opportunity to overhaul of Australia's broken system of political finance – and not be distracted by ideological rants about third-party activism.

"Australia has a problem with big money distorting our political system.

"Time and again, Australians see decisions made to favour big business and the 1%. It's clear that reform of our broken system is long overdue.

"That's why, in consultation with legal experts, we've put together a six point reform plan to get big money out of politics. We hope the Committee will take it into serious consideration.


"We've already seen extreme elements of the Liberal Party try to paint groups like GetUp who facilitate democratic participation as the problem, but I don't think anyone's buying that.

"Everyone can see the real problem is the special treatment enjoyed by billionaires and big corporations who line the pockets of our politicians with unlimited cash.

"The ability of everyday people to come together through organisations like GetUp to have a say is an important, vibrant part of our democracy.

"Any reforms must be applied fairly and proportionately to both formal political parties and third-party groups – including GetUp.

"We want to see a completely transparent democratic system that amplifies the small donations of everyday people.

"Our simple five point plan shows how we can get there", he said.

GetUp's five point reform plan:

  1. End the shroud of secrecy: require all donations above $500 to be publicly disclosed on the internet in real-time, including donations to and from affiliated entities.
  2. Stop the money game: cap the amount any individual or corporation can donate at $1000 per financial year, and introduce expenditure caps on election campaigns to remove incentives to amass huge political fighting funds.
  3. Stop offshore entities buying political influence: prohibit any corporation not registered in Australia, or any individual who doesn't have citizenship or residency, from making donations.
  4. A corruption watchdog with teeth: create an independent federal corruption watchdog with broad investigative powers.
  5. Close the revolving door: prevent Members of Parliament from engaging in lobbying work for a period of three years after they leave office.
For more information call Kirsti Gorringe on 0431 047 358

Media Release, 1 November 2016

QandA: Minister fails to understand how policy will impact people in Australia


GetUp has urged the government to end it's attempts to destroy vulnerable people's lives, including people already living in Australia.

Minister Sussan Ley appeared unaware that the government's policy to ban refugees from Australia will effect people already living here, but was forced to concede that there are people living in Australia, a revelation she appears unaware of.

Matthew Phillips, GetUp's Human Rights Director, said the government's policy would impact over 300 people in Australia - around 15 percent of those to which the blanket ban applies - who were the subject of the Let Them Stay campaign

"These include families with kids in school and others whose babies were born here.

"They include women who have alleged sexual assault offshore detention.

"They will include people with medical conditions that have seem them airlifted out of offshore detention.

"The Australian government's plan has told these people you will have to stop rebuilding your lives and be pushed off to somewhere else.

"Clearly, this policy is poorly understood by government Cabinet Ministers, who fail to understand this important point on QandA last night.

"If they don't understand this policy, they shouldn't vote for it.

"Those here must be allowed to stay. And those in offshore detention must be allowed to rebuild shattered lives in Australia." Says Phillip.

For more information call Kirsti Gorringe on 0431 047 358