After a bruising election outcome, GetUp is regrouping around a batch of issues - with press freedom the big ticket item. The activist group’s national director Paul Oosting, who has been in Canberra for the parliamentary week, says this is “deeply, deeply important to our members right now. It’s absolutely the number one issue that they care about”.
We’re absolutely in this campaign for the long haul. How we protect press freedoms, as of today - [it] isn’t entirely clear how we get there from a parliamentary and political point of view, but we’ve absolutely got to find a way because press freedom is central to our democracy.
Post-election, GetUp has faced strong critics, most recently the Liberal member for the South Australian seat of Boothby, Nicole Flint, who has accused it and unions of “creating an environment where abuse, harassment, intimidation, shouting people down and even stalking became the new normal”.
Oosting says these claims “aren’t true” - they are “very much self-serving from the Coalition in an attempt to to muddy our brand”.
He admits GetUp made some mistakes - in a “calling script” in one electorate, and a wrong “tone” in some advertising, notably depicting a Tony Abbott figure refusing to help a drowning person.
In terms of our internal processes and how we think more broadly around those things[…][we]absolutely will carry those lessons through to future campaigns.
But in Boothby, Oosting says, “Nicole Flint doesn’t really have a high profile. So our campaign wasn’t centred on her, it was centred on issues like climate change”.
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Authors: Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra