Campaign lurches to wilder shores: GetUp as gateway drug to a global socialist agenda

Helen Davidson


The conservative lobby group Advance Australia has continued its crusade against GetUp with a second episode of its self-published “documentary”, accusing GetUp of attempting “voter control” through door knocking and phone calls.

It also claims that sharing online petitions via social media was the first step towards socialist radicalisation.

“Wake Up to GetUp episode 2” dropped on YouTube on Sunday evening and, by Tuesday morning, had received almost 160 views. The video reiterates previous claims that GetUp is part of a global socialist agenda and a supporter of the Labor party.

Related: 'Parliament free of homophobes': GetUp drops H-bomb on Coalition

In February an investigation by the Australian Electoral Commission found that GetUp was not tied to any political party. It was the third time GetUp had been referred to the AEC and cleared, and a number of conservative politicians rejected the findings. GetUp has also repeatedly denied being part of any socialist agenda.

Nevertheless, Advance Australia continues to accuse GetUp of partisanship. In the video Maurice Newman – the News Corp columnist and former ABC chair – warns that GetUp supports “Labor and leftwing causes”.

The video accuses GetUp of methods of recruitment which are “questionable to say the least”. Backed by suspenseful music, a voiceover accuses the organisation of engaging in “methods of deception and voter control”, including door knocking during election campaign, and phoning residents in marginal electorates.

The video says the first contact from GetUp can come through a personal message from a “friend” on “social media”, asking for support in signing a petition “or some clickable activity”.

This is the first step to radicalising you, warns Sydney Watson, a “social commentator” who runs a rightwing YouTube video channel and calls herself “your very favourite deplorable”.

“It seems harmless enough, but your personal details are collected and entered into their databases,” the voiceover says.

Many viewers were alerted to the video by an email from Advance Australia, which was sent out to people in its database.

Advance Australia formed in November as a rightwing counter to GetUp and has been panned for its mascot, Captain GetUp. It was widely criticised for a video showing the character suit rubbing himself against a photo of Zali Steggall, who is challenging Tony Abbott for the seat of Warringah.

The video also takes aim at GetUp volunteers who, during election campaigns, organise calling parties “using GetUp’s own phone systems and software” to call people in marginal seats. The success of these parties has been attributed to “what psychologists call group think”, the video warns.

“And so, many well-meaning Australians find themselves caught in this web of deceit, acting well outside their normal comfort zone, deceiving friends and neighbours to sign an online petition or vote in a certain way.”

The videos features other talking heads including Prof Ross Fitzgerald from Griffith University, and Andrew Slack, who once captained the Wallabies rugby union team.