By WikiLeaks Party Senate candidate for Victoria Leslie Cannold
Why does Australia need WikiLeaks Party members in the Senate? How does the Wikileaks Party differ to the WikiLeaks publishing organisation? What difference can WikiLeaks Senators make to the business as usual approach both major parties take in the Senate, and how will it differ from the sort of representation offered by the Greens?
Such intelligent questions deserve answers that mainstream media coverage of the WikiLeaks Party (WLP) isn’t offering. Instead, much of the chat focuses on the personal life and locational issues of our first Victorian candidate, Julian Assange, the world’s best known asylum-seeker.
The mainstream media’s obsession extends to coverage of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, too. As an exasperated Professor of the Public Understanding of Technology John Naughton wrote recently in The Observer,
Repeat after me: Edward Snowden is not the story. The story is what he has revealed about the hidden wiring of our networked world. This insight seems to have escaped most of the world’s mainstream media.
The mainstream media’s indifference to the risks whistleblowers and publishers take to reveal corruption is a key cause of Australia’s democratic decline. It is this democratic decline that the The Wikileaks Party formed to rectify. As I wrote a few years ago in The Age:
There are rules that have long governed the way the democratic game is played…These define what is and isn’t cricket when it comes to how individuals and institutions engage in our democracy. It is these procedures and values, often unarticulated and widely taken for granted, that are under siege now and [are] the cause of Australia’s democratic decline.
Corruption is the cancer eating away at our democracy. At one end of the spectrum is lawbreaking, at the other unprincipled practices that both law and policy ignore. As Joo-Cheong Tham wrote recently in his book Money and Democracy, the very “integrity of [Australia’s] representative government is under challenge.”
This challenge is less because of the flagrant lawbreaking revealed by the ICAC inquiry into NSW politicians Obeid and MacDonald, and more because of informal practices that see Australia’s wealthy and well-connected receive preferential treatment.
This happens in both the public and the private sectors. Indeed, as Yochai Benkler argues, the financial blockade of WikiLeaks.org by Paypal, Mastercard, Visa and Bank of America well outstripped the power of government to exert force on an organisation it doesn’t like:
If we were to consider what judicial process would be required for the government to…exclud[e] an organization from the payment systems because of the content of information that organization disseminated, the barriers in law would have been practically insurmountable. However, the implicit alliance, a public-private partnership between the firms that operate the infrastructure and the government…was able to achieve extra-legally much more than law would have allowed the state to do by itself.
Corruption is rotting the foundations of Australian democracy. Democracy is the toolkit we need to solve the pressing problems facing our nation. These include poverty, inequality and climate change.
Saving our democracy involves ridding it of corruption. The solution to corruption is transparency, accountability and justice. The solution to the problem of Australia’s democratic decline is WikiLeaks.
The Wikileaks Party formed to bring transparency, accountability and justice into the political process. If we win seats in the Senate, we intend to pass laws that demand government and corporate transparency and accountability. If we win seats in the Senate, we plan to institute policies that protect and defend whistleblowers and the public interest media organisations that disseminate their disclosures.
Wikileaks.org is a publisher. It disseminates public interest disclosures leaked to it by whistleblowers. The WikiLeaks Party is a political organisation. We demand transparency and accountability from powerful institutions and stop them wreaking revenge on those who expose corruption.
How does it work? If the risks associated with leaking are reduced, more insiders aware of corruption will reveal it. As public and private organisations grow fearful any corruption will be exposed, they engage in less of it. This was the critical insight behind the secure electronic dropbox provided to leakers on the Wikileaks.org publishing site. “There are few original ideas in politics, Professor Robert Manne noted recently. “This was one of them.”
The sheer brilliance of the WikiLeaks answer to institutional corruption has been revealed by the viciousness with which the US and its allies – Australia included – have pursued WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange and whistleblowers Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden. Civil libertarians gave a sigh of relief when Manning was acquitted of charges that he “aided the enemy.” But the guilty verdict included the made-up charge of “wanton publication,” a charge that Crikey’s Bernard Keane says should worry American and Australian journalists alike. Notes Mike Bochenek of Amnesty International, “It’s hard not to draw the conclusion that the US government is trying to send a message that it will come down hard on whistleblowers.”
When faced with evidence of systemic failure, the reaction of corporates and governments is to shoot the messenger. We are the messenger, and our message is that the WikiLeaks Party won’t turn a blind eye to corruption. We see the writing on the wall for Australian democracy and know just how TO erase it. The Wikileaks pursuit of transparency, accountability and justice can reverse democratic decline, and make Australia safe for democracy again.