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Thursday, 29 November 2018
Page: 12084


Mr MORTON (Tangney) (16:54): This morning we heard that the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters considers that GetUp! obstructed it by giving it false and misleading information. This afternoon I want to talk about how many people there are who think that they're members with influence in GetUp! but sadly are not. Again, that's because GetUp! is misleading them.

At the May Senate estimates, my colleague Senator Abetz asked ASIC why a schedule attached to GetUp!'s constitution, which should have listed GetUp!'s full members, was blank. GetUp! claimed that this was an accident, but in July GetUp! overhauled their constitution, abolishing any requirement to list its full members by abolishing a category of ordinary membership and by erasing all clauses about maintaining a public register of its members. This was a blatant attempt to shield GetUp!'s real members—those who actually really call the shots at GetUp!, those people who are in charge.

Last Thursday, I visited GetUp!'s Sydney office to exercise a right that everyone has under the Corporations Act to inspect GetUp!'s register of members. I'm talking about the actual members of GetUp!, GetUp Limited, the public company limited by guarantee—those people, akin to company shareholders, who really call the shots. I was prepared to walk in and see reams and reams of paper listing all of GetUp!'s members that they claim to have. But the reality is that GetUp!'s membership register does not reveal a grassroots, democratic, activist organisation; rather, it reveals an incredibly tightly controlled company. I have here a one-page register of members. That's it. The membership of GetUp! fits on one small page. Apart from its three founding members, GetUp!'s actual members, called 'full members', are its board of directors, nominated by two existing members and then approved at a full-members meeting. They relinquish their full membership when they exit GetUp!'s board, thus GetUp!'s directors are answerable only to themselves and the three founding members. Thus, GetUp!'s board is basically a self-perpetuating entity. It's a club of 11 hardcore Labor, union and left-wing activists. GetUp! promotes a fiction that it acts on the wishes of its claimed one million members, who are really only subscribers to their emails.

It saddens me when I get emails from people who think they're GetUp! members and are bewildered when they discover they're not. I had an email from Chris in my electorate, who claims he's an actual GetUp! member. I said to Chris, 'Mate, you're not a GetUp! member at all.' In fact, there's not even a person called Chris who's a member of GetUp!, yet this poor fellow believed that he was a member of this organisation when he is not. It is a shame that GetUp! is being so mischievous in this misinformation, because GetUp! is not a membership-driven organisation. Its issues based campaigns are subordinate to its deceptive left-wing and union political agenda of installing Labor and Greens governments.

Former GetUp! directors have revealed that GetUp! was formed as part of the architecture for Labor winning office and the infrastructure for defeating the coalition. Former GetUp! director Evan Thornley set out a diagram depicting GetUp!'s role as part of an apparatus for Labor retaining government. Former GetUp! director Anne Coombs has described how GetUp! grooms its members using their interests in one campaign to enlist them in others. GetUp!'s email subscribers, donors and volunteers who get involved in a particular campaign are oblivious to GetUp!'s larger political purpose. One GetUp! member wrote to me, saying:

Every year I let Getup know of the issues that are most important to me, Getup collates these surveys and acts on the issues most important.

It seems to me that a grass roots organisation funded by individuals, acting on individuals concerns is the very example of free speech.

But, in GetUp!'s 2016 Vision Survey, respondents nominated dismantling offshore detention as one of their top two, if not single, most important issues, as they have done year in and year out. Yet GetUp! misrepresented the results, because those who really control GetUp! know that the government's border protection policy has broad support. Instead, GetUp! campaigned on mythical cuts to hospitals, dovetailing with Labor's campaign, repeating this again in the Longman by-election.

So what you have is 11 hardcore union and left-wing activists—GetUp!'s actual members—who dupe people into supporting GetUp!. They dupe people to believe that they are members of GetUp! when they are not. In the last week, GetUp! took out full-page ads paid for by people who think they're members, and they are not.

The SPEAKER: It being 5 pm, the House stands adjourned until 10 am next Monday.

House adjourned at 17:00