The tactics of left-wing activist group GetUp in the last election campaign could be laid bare before a parliamentary committee with two Liberal backbenchers preparing to lodge complaints to an inquiry in the May 18 poll. Liberal MP Nicolle Flint will join fellow Coalition backbencher Kevin Andrews in formally complaining about GetUp’s election tactics, a development which could see office bearers from the activist group hauled before parliament to explain their conduct. Aggressive tactics in Flint’s seat of Boothby led to vandals attacking her office and the 41-year-old being stalked.
“I will be making a detailed submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters regarding the behaviour of GetUp & the Unions in the seat of Boothby during the election campaign,” she said. ‘I will provide detailed evidence as to their tactics which included: flooding the electorate with print material personally attacking me. Flooding Facebook, Twitter, Instagram with personal attacks on me, organising protesters outside my electorate office, at community events, at public transport stops, at Liberal events, at community debates.”
Mr Andrews, the former defence minister, who won his Melbourne seat of Menzies despite a strong campaign against him, will also make a submission to the committee. “I intend to make a submission to the Committee about the activities of GetUp and its affiliates,” he said. Mr Andrews said that he was falsely accused of supporting gay conversion therapy, a topic he has never even discussed, with GetUp withdrawing the claim only after he threatened legal action. He was also targeted by a group called Colour Code, which shared the same address as GetUp, and distributed material in Mandarin to Chinese-Australian voters in his electorate labelling him a racist.
Ms Flint, revealed she was stalked during the election campaign and had her election material vandalised. She told the media she wanted the aggressive campaigns to stop and to make GetUp’s funding more transparent. “I want to do everything in my power to make sure this behaviour stops in Australia,” she said. “We’ve got to make sure people like me feel safe in my workplace. We’ve never seen this level of aggression, and a lot of it was abuse as well. “We need to fully expose the tactics of GetUp and the unions and how they’ve run these hit campaigns against people like me.
“I don’t believe GetUp is subject to the same political funding reporting requirements that the unions or certainly political parties are. So where is the funding from?” A spokesman for GetUp rejected responsibility for Ms Flint’s treatment, saying the group had written a tweet during the campaign condemning the attacks on her campaign office. “GetUp condemns the sexist and cruel attacks Nicolle Flint and other women, such as Zali Steggall, faced during the election, as well as bullying from within the party. “We specifically condemned the attacks on Ms Flint’s office at the time. There is no place for that in our politics,” it said.
“GetUp volunteers campaigned in Boothby to champion climate action, by singing alongside children’s entertainer Peter Combe, having heart-to-heart phone calls with their neighbours and volunteering on election day. “We will continue to hold politicians to account on the issues that matter.” A GetUp spokesman said the organisation would be “happy” to appear before MPs if they were hauled before the electoral affairs committee. He also denied the activist network’s funding were not transparent. “We are of course happy to assist the committee and will continue to do so in order to defend and advance Australian democratic participation” the spokesman said.
“GetUp is strictly regulated under the Commonwealth Electoral Act. GetUp is obliged to disclose cumulative donations of $13,800 or more in a financial year to the Australian Electoral Commission, as are political parties. “But because GetUp is passionate about transparency in our democracy, we disclose all cumulative donations of $10,000 or more in real time, unlike political parties, whose donations remain secret beyond election cycles.”Print This Post