Having been a staunch Wikileaks supporter for the past four years, I never imagined I’d find myself in a position where I’d be telling people to NOT vote for a Wikileaks political party. I’ve been a huge promoter of all things Wikileaks, so I feel I have a responsibility to my friends and followers on social media to explain in more depth why I am urging them to Vote Green 1 in Western Australia (WA).
If it ain’t broke why mess with it?
From the outset I questioned the wisdom of the Wikileaks Party even considering fielding candidates in opposition to Senator Scott Ludlam in WA.
Scott is the only Australian politician who has been prepared to put his arse on the line for Julian Assange and who has tirelessly ‘walked the talk’ all of the core values and issues Wikileaks represents. Scott’s track record in supporting Wikileaks speaks for itself. The short summary to which I’ve linked represents countless hours of Scott’s time devoted to the Wikileaks cause, not to mention trips to London and Sweden attempting to sort out Julian’s issues there.
In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find any man in Australia who has done more to provide tangible support to Assange and Wikileaks than Scott Ludlam.
Throughout his term as a Senator, Scott has conducted himself with intelligence, grace and diplomacy befitting an esteemed statesman representing our country
When I expressed my concerns about WLP competing against Scott Ludlam in WA, I was assured by those ‘in the know’ that all due care would be exercised in allocating preferences to ensure his position would never be endangered.
But it still didn’t make much sense to me why they would even bother. To warrant dividing the WA support base at the polls, I figured the Wikileaks Party would need to find someone who not only matches all the qualities Scott exemplifies, but also exceeds them.
So I nearly fell of my chair when I read the announcement that the Wikileaks Party had endorsed two Senate contestants in WA and Gerry Georgatos had been endorsed as the ‘lead’ candidate.
Gerry Georgatos? WTF does he have to do with Wikileaks?
Before I got ill, I was an active participant in the Wikileaks online community, so I’m fairly familiar with the ‘who’s who’ of the Wikileaks Twitterverse. As far as I know, until June, Gerry Georgatos had never figured in it!!!
Closer to home, I was also acquainted with Gerry as a freelance journalist. I knew he’d written stories for local newspapers about the southwest forest protests and he was the proprietor of a fledgling online news service, in which he focused on Indigenous and asylum seeker issues. Fair enough, all admirable causes.
I knew, too, that he and his wife had very recently stood for the local Council elections and both missed out on a seat. No shame in having a go at that. They wouldn’t be the first ‘tree-changers’ who, in moving to a small country town, find they have to patchwork together a survival income from assorted sources. And let’s face it, with Council sitting fees and allowances heading toward $10K, that kind of cash can come in handy while becoming a ‘mover and shaker’ in small pond politics.
But hot off the tail of that Local Government defeat, to find Georgatos now standing for the Wikileaks Party in the Australian Senate? WTF? WTF? WTF? You’ve got to be joking!
I must admit, my WTFs were seriously compounded by an alarming recollection of a conversation I’d had with Gerry’s wife just a few months earlier. When I mentioned Wikileaks, she screwed up her face in distaste and went on to say Julian Assange was wanted for sexual assault and should go back to Sweden so the women’s voices could be heard.
I set her straight on the history of the Sweden affair but was rather astonished to discover the wife of a journalist and a young woman in the digital age could be so naive about the facts of the Swedish case or, for that matter, Wikileaks in general.
With this memory now juxtaposed against the announcement of Georgatos’ candidacy, there was something that just didn’t gel! Why the sudden interest in Wikileaks? Also, if his wife’s naiveté was any indication of his own depth of understanding, I shuddered to think what kind of liability a ‘Senator Georgatos’ might represent to Wikileaks were he ever to be put on the spot.
To be fair, and recognising marital partners do not necessarily define one another’s political views, I set off in search of Gerry’s own historical record in relation to Assange and Wikileaks.
Late to the party?
A search of Twitter postings reveals Gerry’s interest in Wikileaks arrived about the same time as his candidacy for the WL Party. I couldn’t find any of his journalistic offerings on the WL Central site either.
A broader Google search revealed he’d only written a couple of rather dubious Assange-related articles pre-June 2013.
The first of these, in May 2012, was a convoluted and somewhat ambiguous piece dealing with Assange’s Swedish situation. It was the type of opinion piece any half-arsed journalist could have written gleaning information from the Justice for Assange website. The date-stamp of his article, however, indicates Gerry had arrived very late to that party too.
The second article was more entertaining, as well being cause for concern.
Questions of journalistic integrity
One of the factors clearly distinguishing Wikileaks journalism from the mainstream media hacks and a plethora of ‘truther’ websites here online is that you know their publications are based in fact. They go to a lot of trouble to verify that anything they publish can be sourced back to authentic data. They’ve built their reputations on this integrity.
When I originally saw Gerry’s’ June 2012 article about Assange’s Torres Strait Islander heritage, I remember, I laughed.
It was a pleasantly presented genealogical exploration, with appealing historic photos and an interesting titbit about the Chinese origins of the Assange name. But anyone who had ‘dug deep’ on Julian and Wikileaks – or even a kid using Wikipedia – would discover Julian’s biological father was John Shipton and Brett Assange was his mother’s partner when he was a child. So much for researching the heritage of ‘the bloodlines’.
In the context of this Federal election, we’re being asked to support a Wikileaks candidate on the basis of his “multi-award winning investigative journalism” credibility. I have my doubts about whether GG meets the Wikileaks standard when it comes to checking the facts.
Admittedly the bar is set pretty high, with journalists like Glen Greenwald and Alexa O’Brien around; but Gerry would have known that if he’d ever paid any real attention to what was happening with Wikileaks in the last four years.
The other thing that bothered me about the second article was the angle of it. I felt like I was being ‘sold’ something. When I sense I’m being sold something, I don’t like it and I don’t trust it. I asked myself why this reporter was trying to push the idea of Assange having ATSI blood. What was the purpose of this message and whose interests would it best serve?
Questions of focus
Those two articles were all I could find in an extensive search of Google (set pre-May 2013) to represent Georgatos’ journalistic contribution to the Wikileaks historic archive.
By contrast, he is clearly a passionate anti-racist and prolific in his publications about Indigenous and asylum seeker issues and people facing unfair conditions in general. Hat’s off to him on that score, for sure.
That’s Gerry’s ‘thing’, his area of expertise. He lives and breathes that stuff; it’s where his personal identity is fixed, his ‘bread and butter’ and where his sense of community comes from. It’s a shame there wasn’t already another political party lobbying about those issues (Oh wait a sec, there’s actually The Greens.)
But when it comes to GG as a Wikileaks’ Senate representative, it’s like sending in a quiz show contestant whose special interest area is Endangered Australian Marsupials to face a set of questions about Arabian horse racing. Sure, they’re all warm-blooded animals, but the expertise acquired in one area of ‘animal husbandry’ is not always applicable to another, especially when that knowledge takes years to acquire.
The same might be said for Wikileaks’ attempt to transfer from information politics to party politics. A good share of the responsibility for Georgatos being placed outside his field of expertise has to lie with the inexperience and poor judgment of those involved in the candidates’ selection process in the first place.
Questions of allegiance
When Gerry’s passion and expertise clearly lie in another area of human rights, my main concern was – when it came to a crunch – would his priorities be aligned with Wikileaks? Had he simply harnessed his own personal and political agenda to the Wikileaks bandwagon when he noticed the polls showing Wikileaks might pull 26% of the vote?
My fears were not allayed when, in the early days of his candidacy, Gerry continued to pound the drum of his own personal passions rather than Wikileaks messages. His outputs were focused on promoting himself as the heroic crusader and defender of the downtrodden, his own journalistic achievements, his online news site and the political issues closest to his heart. I’m not sure about his history as a whistleblower but he knows how to blow his own trumpet, that’s for sure. (See link to Sue Myc radio interview below to verify this for yourself.)
Gerry’s cursory references to Wikileaks’ core issues such as transparency, accountability, surveillance and personal privacy, as well as mentions of whistleblowers like Manning, Assange and Snowden, appeared to be thrown in as little more than shallow political slogans, rallying cries to the faithful. There was very little depth to any of his coverage, except when it came to the anti-racist campaigns of his past.
The WLP preferences debacle
The crunch came and my worst fears were confirmed when I read about the Wikileaks Party’s complete cock-up relating to the allocation of WLP preferences Australia-wide.
For those who haven’t been following the play, I’ll try to keep this explanation brief. With Australia’s preferential voting system, the allocation of preferences become critical in deciding who actually gets a seat. As candidates are eliminated due to a lack of primary votes, the second (and sometimes subsequent) choices of their supporters are then allocated according to how they’re numbered on the ballot paper.
On the Senate ballot paper, where there are often scores of candidates, the voter has the option to tick 1 on a particular party ‘above the line’ and their preferences will be allocated in the order selected for them by their primary vote party. The other choice is to ‘vote below the line’ which means the arduous task of numbering every candidate manually.
It’s not uncommon for deals to be done among the minor parties to allocate their preferences to one another to ensure at least some of them get into Parliament. It’s a way of curbing the unbridled power of the major parties. This is how The Greens and Independents have held ‘the balance of power’ in Federal politics for the last three years.
When it came to the allocation of the Wikileaks Party’s preferences, deals were done in the eastern states that meant preferences were given to extreme right wing parties with values unaligned to Wikileaks. I don’t know who was ultimately responsible for preference allocations, but I gather it wasn’t a democratically-reached decision and many people (including Julian’s running mate in Victoria) were upset enough to resign or withdraw their support from the party.
In WA, however, it appears that the preferences allocation decision was delegated entirely to the discretion of Gerry Georgatos…and he decided to allocate the WA Wikileaks Party preferences to The Nationals over The Greens.
Why? As he explains in this article, Gerry decided to offer his political support ‘as a symbolic gesture’ to his mate, Aboriginal former footballer, David Wirrpanda.
FFS!!!!!!! David Wirrpanda may be a good bloke, but he is standing for The Nationals! Y’know, those guys who love to turn our unique native forests into woodchips. Also the party whose Federal member in O’Connor, when I went to see him about Julian’s incarceration, indicated that he couldn’t give a rats’ about Assange or Wikileaks and that he is perfectly happy with Australia’s relationship with the US.
So with the first important decision left in Gerry’s hands he has already demonstrated his primary allegiance is to his own anti-racist agenda in preference to supporting Scott Ludlam, the one politician in Australia who has been a stalwart supporter promoting Wikileaks’ interests.
There’s been a whole lot of media featuring Gerry’s bombastic defence of his decision (with no apology to Scott, mind you). He claims that he’s ‘done the math’ and his decision won’t affect Scott’s Senate seat, but I’d prefer to trust the expertise of far more experienced political analysts who say otherwise.
The ‘short’ of it is that if you vote Wikileaks 1 on your Senate ballot paper in WA and the Wikileaks Party candidates get less primary votes than The Greens, your vote will go straight to The Nationals.
We’ve already seen the devastation the Barnett state government has created in Western Australia and it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion we’ll see that idiot, Tony Abbott, as our next PM with control of the Lower House. The ONLY hope we have of putting any brakes on the LNP Coalition’s unbridled takeover of this country, is to ensure they don’t get the balance of power in The Senate.
While the WA Nationals are not officially a part of the Federal LNP Coalition, they’ll still align their vote with them when it comes to a numbers crunch. That’s why it’s imperative – not just for Wikileaks and not just for the environment, but for the sake of the country itself – we must return a good man like Scott Ludlam to his Senate seat.
So if you’re considering giving your vote to Gerry Georgatos (or David Wirrpanda) because you think ‘he’s a good bloke’, I’ve got to tell you Scott Ludlam is an even better man and, undoubtedly, a better politician deserving of our respect…and our vote!
FURTHER READING TO INFORM YOUR CHOICE:
Please check this out! Scott Ludlam’s Wikileaks track record. http://scott-ludlam.greensmps.org.au/wikileaks
Letters from Senator Ludlam January 24, 2013 http://waca.net.au/letters-from-senator-ludlam/
Wikileaks Background information
Swedish Extradition Facts http://wlcentral.org/node/2486
Justice for Assange site http://justice4assange.com/
Wikileaks Official site: http://wikileaks.org/
Wikileaks candidate talks about…..Gerry Georgatos
Sue Myc in conversation on 2013.08.28 with Gerry Georgatos Wikileaks https://soundcloud.com/suemycon897fm/sue-myc-in-conversation-on-2
Note: 6:30mins before he mentions Wikileaks and then only because the reporter brings him back to topic; 8:30 back to GG and his own whistleblower history; 12:00 mins back to WL; 20 mins explains resignations and preferences; 22:00 mins slags off The Greens; 24:00 back on Indigenous issues.
The preferences cock-up
WikiLeaks candidate Gerry Georgatos defends preferencing Nationals over Greens http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/western-australia/wikileaks-candidate-gerry-georgatos-defends-preferencing-nationals-over-greens/story-fnhocxo3-1226702078956
Ludlam blasts WikiLeaks over preferences http://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/national/ludlam-blasts-wikileaks-over-preferences/story-e6frfku9-1226702948503#ixzz2d1hqPAI2
WikiLeaks Party risks Abbott controlled Senate Simon Butlerhttp://www.greenleft.org.au/node/54812
(Sorry about the weird formatting on the links below. I don’t know how to fix this right now and want to get this thing uploaded before the election.)
Could Western Australia Deliver the Coalition Control of the Senate? By political commentator, Antony Green, March 13, 2013. http://blogs.abc.net.au/antonygreen/2013/03/could-western-australia-deliver-the-coalition-control-of-the-senate.html
WikiLeaks Party Assplosion 2 (Sean Bedlam) National WLP social media coordinator explains his resignation and doesn’t mince with his words. 😉 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9_b-cwpHWQ&feature=youtu.be
WA Volunteer resignation statement: Luke Skinner 19 August https://www.facebook.com/troutish/posts/10151684535617605
Politics vs. Wikileaks vs. The Greens (Radio interview with Georgatos and Ludlam – who handles this situation with grace?) http://rtrfm.com.au/story/politics-vs-wikileaks-vs-the-greens/
Julian Assange WikiLeaks Party Fails over Preference Decision http://au.ibtimes.com/articles/500622/20130822/julian-assange-wikileaks-party-leslie-cannold.htm#.Uh_wfz-d-ls
Gerry Georgatos supports Nationals candidate in The Stringer June 17th, 2013 (Note the date on this one.) “David Wirrpanda said that he will speak his mind if elected” http://thestringer.com.au/david-wirrpanda-said-that-he-will-speak-his-mind-if-elected/#.UiL2TT-d-lt
Gerry Georgatos’ contribution to the Wikileaks journalistic record
Justice for all: WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, the rights of the two women by Gerry Georgatos Thu 31 May 2012
“Multi-award winning investigative journalism” http://neoskosmos.com/news/en/greek-australian-journo-wins-media-awards-for-aboriginal-newspaper
Georgatos Article Archive on The Stringer http://thestringer.com.au/article-archive/
Examples of the standard of Wikileaks-style journalism
Alexa O’Brien archive of investigative journalism on the Bradley Manning trial http://www.alexaobrien.com/secondsight/archives.html
Glenn Greenwald archive of informed political commentary http://www.thenewsmachine.com/top-stories/2013-08-20/glenn-greenwald/
Wikileaks Central – an endorsed Wikileaks resource (with journalistic contributions from the Wikileaks community) http://wlcentral.org/