Sunday 23rd of February 2020

7.30 Report: New Progressive website upsets Howard Government

Reporter: Mark Bannerman

KERRY O'BRIEN: For those with an interest in politics, but no stomach for the grind of branch meetings and number crunching, a new political organisation called might catch your attention. Inspired by the Move On organisation in the United States, GetUp is aimed at people who want to have a political say but don't have the time or inclination to be part of the mainstream. GetUp encourages voters to sign up and use the dotcom's resources to make their views known to politicians. The virtual lobby group will begin its life here with a series of advertisements on national television, warning coalition Senators face a backlash if they abuse the Senate majority. Mark Bannerman reports.

WOMAN IN AD: You've got control of the Senate now.

MAN IN AD: The other parties can't hold you accountable anymore. But we will.

MARK BANNERMAN: What do you do when the Government holds the balance of power in the Senate for the first time in 30 years? Answer - you form a virtual political party, create an ad campaign and target coalition senators.

JEREMY HEIMANS, GetUp.Org: GetUp is a way to get ordinary people back into politics. People who are tired of institutional politics, people who aren't happy with the direction this country's going.

DAVE MADDDEN, GetUp.Org: Well, the message that we're delivering the simple. The Opposition parties can't hold you to account anymore. They no longer have the balance of power in the Senate. So it's now up to the Australian people to hold you account and the Australian people will.

MARK BANNERMAN: Jeremy Heimans and Dave Madden are the brains behind Using expertise gathered while working in the United States they've created an organisation they hope will give voters on the progressive side of politics a new voice in Canberra. Why do we need it?

DAVE MADDEN: Firstly there's many, many people out there who are very very concerned about the direction the country has gone in the last nine years and particularly about the direction in which the Howard Government is planning to take the country. But those people, although they care about lots of issues, they're not necessarily going to go out there and join a political party in order to take action on those issues. And so is a way of providing people with a practical means of taking action on issues they care about.

MARK BANNERMAN: The remarkable thing about GetUp is just how easy it makes it for you to contact your elected representatives. You simply go to the site, it gives you a list of senators and creates an email format that allows you to pass on the ad and your own message. So will it have an impact? Well key Liberal backbencher Andrew Robb has run a few political campaigns himself and says it's slick, but it's flawed.

ANDREW ROBB, LIBERAL BACKBENCHER: It's first and foremost, let's not mince word, it is an anti-Government group and it's not there to keep us accountable. it's there to run an alternative policy agenda.

MARK BANNERMAN: Significantly, the senators on the website that are targeted are all from the Coalition and that tells Andrew Robb all he needs to know about GetUp.

ANDREW ROBB: It's a front for the Labor Party, it's a political front. They're quite entitled to do it, it's a free country, but it's a political front. That's what it is.

MARK BANNERMAN: So are you just a front for the Labor Party?

JEREMY HEIMANS: Absolutely not. I mean, it's very difficult to be a front for the Labor Party when you have the Liberal Party involved, you have the Greens, you have, as you've just said, people from a whole variety of political background. We'd be a confused front for the Labor Party if we were.

DAVE MADDEN: To be clear, Mark, neither Jeremy or I have never been a member of any political party.

MARK BANNERMAN: To back this view, the principals of GetUp point out that the board overseeing their dotcom include former Liberal Party leader John Hewson, Internet millionaire Evan Thornely and union boss Bill Shorten.

BILL SHORTEN, AUSTRALIAN WORKERS' UNION: What's interesting about this board of is on the right you've John Hewson who I haven't voted for and to be fair to him I don't think he's voted for me. Then on the left you've got Kate Firman from the Greens. I suppose you've got myself from the AWU somewhere in the middle. It's not a straightforward, it's not a traditional coalition, if you like.

MARK BANNERMAN: So what will this non-traditional coalition pick as its first campaign issue? Well judging by the ad, there's plenty to choose from and plenty to argue about, too. The thing that just hits people on talkback and has had a big effect is industrial relations. It cries out to be the first campaign. Is that going to be it?

JEREMY HEIMANS: Well, you'll have to wait and is find out,

MARK BANNERMAN: In the United States, where the GetUp team learned and art of dotcom politics they had no trouble finding a political issue.

GEORGE w. BUSH, US PRESIDENT: Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere? Nope, no weapons over there. (LAUGHTER)

WOMAN: My brother died in Baghdad on 29 April. I watched President Bush make a joke, looking around for weapons of mass destruction.

MARK BANNERMAN: Using money raised on the Internet Jeremy Heimans and Dave Madden helped create ads attacking George Bush's foreign policy and that created controversy.

ADVERTISEMENT: George Bush, he doesn't get it. ADVERTISEMENT #2: Even Republicans are calling that ad the most brutal of the campaign.

MARK BANNERMAN: Come election-time, might future GetUp ads target key Government ministers here.

JEREMY HEIMANS: In Australia, you know, there are important issue of character and leadership and absolutely we'll be addressing issues of character and leadership.

MARK BANNERMAN: How tough can you get?

JEREMY HEIMANS: It's not a question of being tough, it's a question of speaking directly.

MARK BANNERMAN: Already, it's clear in Australia GetUp is having an impact. Coalition senators across the country have already started receiving emails by the thousands. And it seems this new twist on the democratic process is creating some angst.

ANDREW ROBB, LIBERAL BACKBENCHER: There are hundreds of emails arriving in Senator's officers. They're beside themselves, just to clear the screen. They get back to their office from meetings looking for important communications from whoever, and they're confronted with screen after screen of these emails, in some cases over 200 emails. This is highly irresponsible, this is spam, this is spam.

MARK BANNERMAN: So, a new form of political lobby group or party has arrived. Will it have an impact? Well Bill Shorten isn't sure.

BILL SHORTEN: Does it attract a group of people who are currently not active in politics, who are disengaged from the political process? If it attracts thousands of these people then you'd have to say it was a pretty worthwhile venture. If it doesn't, then you'd have to say we tried that but it doesn't work here. People don't want to get involved in the political process through the Internet.

MARK BANNERMAN: GetUp's founders, though, are far more positive.

DAVID MADDEN: We're hoping over time to be able to build up a list in the hundreds of thousands.

MARK BANNERMAN: Really? That many?

DAVID MADDEN: Absolutely, sure.

MARK BANNERMAN: So you believe you can have real impact?


MARK BANNERMAN: DAVID MADDEN: No question about that? No question about it.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Mark Bannerman.

Our own path

Perhaps it would be nice to know what, if anything, is happening behind the scenes between YD and,and how they fit into our path forward. I understand that some are anxious with the centralised model of, and that in the long run it might burn people, where as YD has a more democratic model which will hopefully be more inclusive. We just don't want to divide the community, we need our own identity so we can't get tarred with the same brush, but at the same time we need to acknowledge our natural allies.


Re: Our own path

Nigel, what with the Feedback button missing, and the pictorials (ie Gus cartoons) not coming out to the browser, it's hard to know.

Is it possible to have a status report on YD website?

I didn't notice

T.G, I didn't notice the feedback form had dropped off. It is back now. Gus's cartoons were misplaced during the downtime, and we are endeavouring to get them back up ASAP. Unfortunately he was away during the down time, so we didn't have the archive handy. Beyond that you'll have to ask Hamish, I've been concentrating on development stuff, and have not been very actively involved in the site.

If the site is repaired, where are Gus' pictures

Agreeing with TG,  and being as diplomatic as possible, I would suggest either a little more frank and open dialogue or a site title change.

As I've said on another thread, Gus adds acolour, wit and inciveness to the site that no other can.  Where are his cartoons.

I hate to be repetitive, but also when are the titles of the blogs going to be reconnected to their relevant websearch entries.?  If this is not going to happen I need to know so that I can make certain pieces of work more easily accessible to an interested reader than merely leaving him or her to find their way from the home page.  This is important to what I'm trying to achieve. 



OK, I can not reproduce the web search issue. I've searched for every title on our front page and the results link back to correct item. Can you specify the search terms and search engine you used which had these problems.

Secondly, we have sadly lost all the files which were on the site server, which practically meant we lost Gus's cartoons, though the database was left intact, which is why all the articles remained. The reason for this is believed to be a denial of service attack against one of the libraries used by YD. Of course this is now fully patched up (I was only 1 week behind in the release of this patch, so we certainly weren't sitting on our hands).

Long and short of it, we had to reinstall the site, we are currently waiting for Gus to upload his more recent cartoons again, and we are now backing up the images too, although this will have a bandwidth penalty which will cost us financially in the end.

I went on holiday for a few days and...

And I can't see any of the cartoons any more... I thought my computer had gone blotto as I went troppo but it appears that the whole site has lost a few links. I hope that this can be fixed soon... I have not had time to catch up with the "real news" yet since I just arrived back... Hope we're still on track anyway... Thanks for the appreciation of the cartoons....

will upload tomorrow

I will upload cartoons tomorrow and back track from the front . Hope that it will be working.

Terminated request because of suspicious input data

Was the message as my list disappeared into oblivion... sigh.

 Everything seems fine with the new ones, it's the earlier ones tha are "buggered"

Google some of my title's, and Hamish's, and Jack Smit's  Most go to the current home page, one of Jack's went to a home of month ago.

I haven't tried with other engines yet, will do so tonight.  Sorry if I sound pedantic, but iif  you go to a loo with broken plumbing you don't feel the need to go next time you're in the neighbourhood.

 Good to see Gus around, and on the case.

I'm keen to hear a pronounncement on what exactly happenned to the website last week.... in layman's terms for we troglodytes

Ah... communication.

Have uploaded the first page

more soon ... The older ones will be reformatted as jpg for better communications.

What connection please with Getup?

Nigel, I too think it would clarify things if YD restated it's aims, particularly if Getup is now involved. Getup is a childish approach to politics and this is demonstrated by their crowing about producing 20,000 emails. Wow, what an achievement!

Getup appears to be a site where:

Users have ni idea who they are involved with,

Users have no input on the topic for use (IE I/R or whatever Getup leaders decide),

There is no discussion,

The only input appears to be sending money (To whom?)

If you are happy to clog email intrays with irrelevant emails on topics they have no say about then Getup is for you.

As it was given a boost by WebDiary I suspect there is a connection but silence remains.