Left-wing lobby group GetUp considered becoming an ALP “campaigning machine” in the lead-up to the 2007 federal election, the group’s first executive director says.
The federal coalition has previously accused GetUp of being a Labor front group and the latest revelations, published in Wednesday’s edition of The Monthly magazine, will add fuel to that fire.
Brett Solomon admits serious consideration was given to “turning the power of GetUp into a Labor campaigning machine” in order to help topple the Howard government.
“I mean, if the big way to help Australia is to put in a Labor government, why the hell are we not just doing that,” Mr Solomon tells the magazine when explaining the group’s thinking in 2007.
“We could have got hundreds of thousands of people, and their friends, to vote Labor.”
In the end, the lobby group decided not to become party political.
Indeed, The Monthly says evidence of close links between GetUp and Labor is hard to find “beyond the coincidental”.
The only real connection is “tangential” in that trade unions donated more than $1 million to GetUp’s 2010 election campaign chest.
The Monthly suggests Labor is more closely aligned with the Greens’ philosophy.
Before polling day this year, the lobby group put out a scorecard ranking the major parties on 14 “key questions”.
The Greens got 14 ticks, Labor received eight and the coalition five.
Further, “in at least one Sydney polling booth the same volunteers handed out Greens how-to-vote cards and GetUp scorecards, sometimes simultaneously”.
GetUp was established in 2005 by Jeremy Heimans and David Madden – two Australian Harvard graduates who also witnessed the power of online fundraising and organisation during Barack Obama’s campaign for office.
The pair had worked for MoveOn – the model for GetUp – in the United States in 2004. MoveOn was aligned with the Democratic Party.
GetUp’s current director, Simon Sheikh, says the group helped shape the outcome of the 2010 federal election by letting voters know both major parties weren’t offering progressive policies.
“We set out to create a mood for a change in values and Australians seem to have stood up and demanded those values in their politicians,” he tells The Monthly.