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antipodea watching: the birth of an internet-based progressive movement in Oz

by myriad Tue Aug 2nd, 2005 at 10:41:17 PM EST

[cross-posted at Kos & Booman]

Many of you, particularly Wes Clark supporters and admirers, would be familiar with the internet-based Win Back Respect campaign that raised millions and produced tv and internet ads againt Dubya, on the basis that the USA has to restore its international credibility to be able to fight the "war on terror". They formed one of the many excellent internet-based,  grass-roots progressive campaigns against Bush. You can check out some of their excellent ads if you haven't seen them already here

Other great campaign activities it funded and promoted was a speaking tour by Wes Clark, and the hired a charter plane for the "Band of Sisters", a group of female relatives of US soldiers killed or serving in Iraq, to chase Vice-President Dick Cheney on the campaign trail.

Well, now the team behind Win Back Respect have a new project in Australia, and you can help them. Read on for more.

What many don't know is that the Win Back Respect campaign was started by two Australian Harvard graduates, Jeremy Heimans and David Madden, and now they have returned home, determined to implement their experience and success using internet-based grass-roots campaigning in the USA, in Australia.

They have just launched Getup!, the Australian version of MoveOn.

Australia desparately needs a grass-roots progressive revival, and people are only really just beginning to harness & recognise the power of the interent (remember our much smaller population).

Australians have largely been mired in political apathy, and because our political processes do not involve primaries to select candidates, very few are members of political parties (eg the olderst party, the Labor party (US Democrat equivalent) has 50,000 members. So Australians who are interested in politics are rightly suspicious and reluctant to join political parties, because apart perhaps from the Greens, they are not grass-roots based or run anymore, but instead are dominated by factions and power brokers (sound familiar?).

Now a major shift has occurred in Australian politics that is sparking a great deal of Australians out of their political apathy. In last year's October election, the neo-conservative Howard Government achieved a majority in both Houses of Parliament. Like the USA, Australians are now wakign up to the fact that this is a one-party country, and that party has little or no interest in representing or listening to them.

The election victory giving the Howard Government a 1 seat majority in the Senate came as a large surprise to most - Australians have a long tradition of balancing their preference for government in the House of Representatives with an oppositional vote in the Senate, to "keep the bastards honest" (a vernacular phrase that has been the slogan for the minor Democart party that had long held the balance of power in the Senate).

Many Australians are now extremely anxious about the fact that Howard can legislate virtually anything he wants, and apart from opposition within his own coalition government, there are no checks or balances to his power. Now, they just need somewhere to go, to meet each other, organise and take action.

The birth of Getup!  
therefore couldn't come at a more crucial and opportune time, and full credit to the organisers for this. Many Australians are now looking for a way to feel they have some influence over the Howard Government, and to fight the feeling of powerlessness, as Howard has been unveiling more and more radical and unprecedented pieces of legislation and ammendments he intends to push through the Senate, come the first sitting of the newly elected body on August 9. The radical destruction of our equitable Industrial Relations system (which I diaried here and here) is just one example.

Many Australians feel strongly that Howard is now introducing policies and legislation he has no elected mandate to deliver, as he never exposed them during the election campaign, or indeed, previously in government. Yet most will not want to join a political party, nor will they see it as a mechanism to influence what is about to unfold.

Enter Getup!. It has strong backing - the board comprises of a former Liberal (Federal Conservative Party) leader (who was deposed by Howard), a Labor (Democrat equivalent) member and union leader, a Greens activist, and a dot.com millionaire progressive who has provided substantial set-up cash. It has skillfuly already framed itself as a non-political party aligned progressive movement. Progressive is a word long missing from the Australian political lexicon.

I have been waiting for the day that someone would bring this style of progressive grass-roots campaigning and organising to the Australian mainstream with grunt, and am so thrilled it's finally here.

All very lovely, you say, but what was the bit about how we could help?

How You can Help

As this article in The Age explains, the first membership target for Getup! is the 69,000 Australian members of MoveOn. I'm also aware from hanging 'round Kos and other progressive blogs that many of you have Australian friends, families, work connections.

Please, take the time to email your Aussie connections, and let them know about Getup!. Send them this link to the site, so that they can watch their first tv ad, which I think is fantastic and nails so many important issues exactly. Tell them about how successful MoveOn and sites like DailyKos and other equivalents in your neck of the woods have been in organising and building the progressive movement, and putting up real opposition to the neocons. Tell them about how such sites have given you personal hope and helped build a community in the face of neoconservative onslaught across the planet.

If Getup! can build quickly and strongly, if it can get an immediate influx of like-minded progressives, it would be brilliant. I have already written to the site owners, and unashamedly begged them to add a Scoop-powered interface for a interactive community site. I'll have everything crossed.

There are many of us overseas who have done what we can to encourage, contribute to and support the revival of the American progressive movement, and are also now contributing to sites like Eurotrib with the aim of helping to foster a global progressive movement. I would be deeply grateful if you can see this as an opportunity to repay some of us down under in kind.

To ensure as many people with Australian connections see this and make the links down under, please recommend. It would also be great to get a feel for how many of you have Australian connections - so take the poll!

with thanks.

I have
. many (>5) Australian connections and I will email them about Getup! 0%
. a few (<5) Australian connections and I will email them about Getup! 0%
. maybe 1 Australian connection and I will email them about Getup! 0%
. no idea where Australia is 0%
. in-principle decided not to support Getup! until Australia stops caning us all in the swimming 0%

Votes: 0
Results | Other Polls
You might want to post this also at

There are quite a few Wes Clark supporter on that site.Or I can post it for you,if you want.

The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off. Gloria Steinem

by mint julep on Fri Aug 5th, 2005 at 02:59:40 AM EST
Hi there,

sorry for the late reply, we went away for the weekend.

I'm not a member or known at all at DU, so if you could find the time to post this, I'd be most grateful. Cut and paste any of it you want.


"This can't possibly get more disturbing!" - Willow

by myriad (imogenk at wildmail dot com) on Sun Aug 7th, 2005 at 05:40:50 PM EST
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