David Heslin on The Wikileaks Party and the Battle for Internet Freedom

David Heslin, 25, is the manager of Fitzroy video store Video Dogs, as well as a student at RMIT studying professional writing and editing. This interview was published on my now-defunct politics blog majorMinor.

Interview by Joseph Tafra, follow me at @writingmaybe

majorMinor 

Which Australian political party do you support?

David Heslin

I support The Wikileaks Party.

mM

Why have you chosen this party as the recipient of your glorious vote? (NB – all votes are equal, Mr. Heslin’s vote is no more glorious than yours)

DH

They are a minor party with a progressive agenda. Parties like that need all the support they can get, particularly in the early stages of their development. I also signed up as a member of the Wikileaks party as they needed a number of members in order to be registered with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC.)†

mM

In your opinion, what are the key policies that make this party important for Australia?

DH

Their policies to protect internet and press freedoms and keep draconian government regulations in check are important. As are their anti-censorship platform and opposition to corporate exploitation. I also support their plans to increase foreign aid, support refugee rights, and oppose unnecessary foreign interventions.

mM

Could you discuss the factors that led you to decide against supporting Labor or the Coalition?

DH

I support progressive minor parties because of Labor and the Coalition’s bipartisan commitment to authoritarian, pro-censorship, anti-civil liberties policy. Both parties are quite conservative and make blatant appeals to reactionary demographics. I view it as essential to put left-ward pressure on Labor, in particular, given their penchant for kowtowing to the right.

mM

What do you see as the most important political issue/s in Australia today, and why?

DH

In general terms, commitments to health and education infrastructure, economic stability, and sensible foreign policy are vital.  More specifically, out growing dependence on an authoritarian regime – China – means that we need to be vigilant regarding issues such as freedom of expression, freedom of political association, and freedom of the press.

The internet is a major battleground for these issues and the medium that governments seem most eager to reign in. As such, protection of internet freedoms is a hugely important issue right now.

I also see humane treatment of refugees, and appropriate response to climate change, and progressive reform of the criminal justice system as issues worthy of attention.

mM

Finally, which political party do you believe to be the most dangerous for Australia’s future, and why?

DH

Several minor parties, such as Family First, the Liberal Democratic Party, or the Palmer United Party, would make for disturbing prospects if they were ever to wield serious power. Thankfully, despite their holding some of the balance of power in the senate, their influence remains minimal.

A far more significant threat is the party that currently holds government: the Liberal Party. Despite their ostensible centre-right politics, their current incarnation consists of extremists, economic illiterates, and opportunists with concerning links to the mining lobby and right-wing Murdoch press.

All government leave some mark on the country, and so it will be over the next three years: commitment to privatisation, junk economics, aggressive nationalism, and staunch opposition to progress on climate change, gay rights, and criminal justice.

Civil liberties, in particular, will be significantly at risk under the Coalition, as we saw with the bungled pledge to introduce an internet filter just days before the election. Many of these changes will have a negative impact on Australian quality of life which will likely far outlast the Coalition’s removal from office.

* * *

The Wikileaks Party in brief

Julian Assange – the fugitive founder of the Wikileaks website – first announced his intention to run for the Australian Senate via twitter in 2012. By late 2012 reports were emerging of Assange’s plans to form a new political party, and on the 23rd of March 2013 the Wikileaks Party submitted its registration to the AEC with over 1300 fee-paying members.

Key elements of the Wikileaks Party’s political platform are:

  • Transparency: the Wikileaks Party believes the free flow of information is essential for democracy, human rights, and freedom to flourish.
  • Asylum seeker policy reform: the Wikileaks Party would seek to increase public access to information about asylum seekers and government policy towards them, as well as reversing key elements of Labor’s ‘PNG solution’ such as indefinite detention and the excising of the Australian mainland from the migration zone.
  • Climate change policy: the Wikileaks Party acknowledges anthropogenic climate change and would support Australian contribution to the effort to reverse or slow its progress. Their climate platform emphasises the need to end secrecy surrounding government relationship with ‘fossil carbon industries’, ensure transparency in any emissions trading scheme, and support legislative measures to encourage the development of renewable energy sources.

The Wikileaks Party gave a very poor showing in the 2013 election. Their loss of support was attributed by many to odd preferencing decisions that saw their first preference going to far-right party Australia First in NSW and to the Nationals over the Greens in WA.

†Political parties need 500 members on the electoral roll to register with the AEC.

 

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