Remarks by Sam Castro, WikiLeaks Party National Councillor at ‘Julian Assange and WikiLeaks: Philosophy, Politics and Plight’ panel discussion with Robert Manne, Julian Burnside AO QC and Sam Castro with Chair Mary Kostakidis
La Trobe University, Melbourne, May 23 2013
The WikiLeaks Party is a new force on the political block – from nothing to over 1000 members and many more supporters in a few short months. Our members and supporters come from across the political spectrum because the values we uphold are the bedrock of democracy.
This Party is built on core WikiLeaks values – transparency, accountability, the free flow of information and protection for individuals when it comes to the exercise of power by the state.
The campaign we are running is deliberately targeted at the Senate. Why? Because the Senate is the check and balance on the Executive – or that is the theory anyway.
The Senate is the house where MPs ought to scrutinize government policy and hold it up to the light.
Too often though… the Senate is a deal making house where there are trade-offs so the government of the day can get its way.
WikiLeaks Party Senators would actually do their job differently.
When it comes to policy all information ought to be on the table.
There should be no hiding behind national security and commercial in confidence… so that policy discussions are hamstrung by lack of important materials.
We the people have a right to know what our elected representatives do and say in our name and we have a right to participate in a meaningful way in policy discussions that ultimately impact us all.
The Party’s Senate campaign is currently taking shape in three states – Victoria where Julian Assange is proposing to run, New South Wales and Western Australia.
We intend to stand at least two candidates in each state.
On the all-important issue of preferences the Party has not yet made a decision but certainly those political forces and individuals whose values align best with the WikiLeaks Party will naturally be higher up the list of those we preference.
This campaign is obviously a little different because we have a candidate in London.
Greg Barns our Campaign Director will be working with Julian Assange this weekend in London on Julian’s schedule for the upcoming federal campaign.
Let me deal with some of the critiques of the WikiLeaks Party campaign that are currently floating around the media and among other political parties.
Firstly – this is certainly not Julian Assange’s ‘get out of jail’ card.
If that were the case Julian could have simply run as an Independent.
Secondly – Julian’s legal and diplomatic situation relies in our view, on the Australian government doing what it has not done to date – exercising some political and diplomatic capital with its colleagues in London, Stockholm and Washington to ensure Julian Assange is able to return to
Australia and does not face the sort of outrageous punishment meted out to Bradley Manning.
Thirdly – the idea that the WikiLeaks Party is a one-issue party. If by this people mean the overriding commitment to transparency and accountability in all we do… then yes in some respects you could say we are a one issue party.
But in terms of policies and positions on issues, I can assure you that this is not the case. Over June and July the Party will be releasing a number of position statements on a range of issues as diverse as whistle-blowers protection to youth employment.
We have of course already announced our position on Shield laws and a commitment to introducing legislation, which will properly protect journalists and their sources.
This federal election is one in which it seems the House of Representatives vote is locked in – a Coalition victory seems likely.
But the Senate is far from decided and there is in the community a hunger for fresh alternatives to the existing players and business as usual.
Ultimately it is up to the people of Australia to decide whether we will continue to have our democracy overtly and covertly influenced by the rich and the powerful voices that appear to have ear of successive Government’s.
Or… if we will choose a bold new direction and open up our political system to begin the journey of reclaiming our democracy for the people.
Will we choose to return the Senate to house of oversight and review and elect those that cannot be swayed, even by some of the most powerful voices on this planet.
I hope we choose a future in which the powerful are held to account and the people’s voice and liberties are respected.
We stand at a crossroad that will determine the future for all of us here tonight and for generations to come, and to me this is what makes the 2013 federal election an exciting not only for the WikiLeaks Party but for the people of Australia. Regardless of what you do on Sept 14th, we have an obligation as Australian citizens and compatriots of Julian Assange to support, protect and defend him, because what they do him… they could ultimately do to all of you and to me.