By: BIANCA BARDEN
FEBRUARY 29, 2020
GetUp, going by its own website, would have you believe it is an independent, not-for-profit organisation out for a fairer, more flourishing and just Australia.
The reality contradicts those beliefs.
GetUp! is supposedly independent. It claims it is “an independent grass-roots community advocacy organisation.” That’s a boldface lie and one doesn’t have to dig too deep to find the roots to its left-wing political affiliations.
GetUp’s founders David Madden and Jeremey Heimans are heavily involved in a number of similar US and global left-wing activist groups, each of which is tied to the shadowy billionaire, George Soros.
Madden and Heimans can hardly claim that GetUp is non-partisan when its original board members included Australian Workers Union secretary Bill Shorten, Australian Fabian Society secretary Evan Thornley, green activist Cate Faehrmann and left-wing trade union researcher and “community organiser” Amanda Tattersall.
It is clear that GetUp follows the Soros model in Australia. It has been deliberately set up as a “non-partisan” activist group to harvest donations that are exempt from Australia’s political donations laws. The corporate entity, Getup Limited does not appear on the Australian Electoral Commission’s list of “associated entities”, even though it claims on its website that is legally obliged to disclose donations over $11,200 to the AEC.
The group utilises the funds together with the energy of its well-meaning activist members to target the conservative parties with stunts and advertising campaigns whilst pushing left-wing agendas such as global warming scaremongering, same- sex marriage and the release of illegal refugees from detention in combination with a push to open-borders sentiment, not to mention the abolition of coal-fired power stations.
GetUp! national director Paul Oosting told a parliamentary committee that a proposed bill requiring donors to provide statutory declarations when donating more than $250 a year would choke the organisation’s revenue stream and impose an unmanageable administrative burden.
“It would simply wipe out organisations like GetUp!,” Mr Oosting told a joint standing committee on electoral matters.
To be, in effect, declared politically aligned with the Greens or ALP by the AEC would be a potential body blow to GetUp!’s life support system; money. Abetz’s case, as outlined in his correspondence to the AEC, was compelling. Enclosed was a speech the 16-year Senate veteran made to the David Davies Memorial Dinner in Brisbane, a closed event. Under the heading “GetUp!...Independent and Unaligned?”, Abetz gets straight to the point: “Might I say from the outset that GetUp!'s activities would be perfectly legitimate if they just came out and admitted to being a left-wing activist group,” Abetz declares.
“The trouble is that GetUp! trades on being "independent" and "non-partisan" when it is anything but.” “It has never been either independent or non-partisan and it is this fundamental lack of honesty which elicits such cynicism.
The AEC, however disagreed.
On all three occasions, the AEC found that GetUp did "not appear to be controlled by one or more registered political parties, nor ... to operate wholly or to a significant extent to the benefit of one or more registered political parties." In 2010 the AEC acknowledged that many of GetUp's activities "could be reasonably regarded as of some 'benefit' to the 'left' parties. However, the AEC also noted that many of the activities of GetUp! appear to be solely issue-based rather than supporting or advocating support for a particular registered political party."
The AEC’s statement is in stark contrast to GetUp!’s actions at the 2019 Federal Election, where they spent significant manpower and resources deliberately attempting to remove sitting conservative MP’s from office.
Part of GetUp!’s motto is pushing for a “fairer, more flourishing and just Australia”.
One quick look at GetUp’s finances would indicate that the only ones benefiting from this fairer and just Australia is the GetUp executives, who’s bank account balances must be flourishing.
This week The Australian reporter Brad Norington shone light on the shoddy finances of GetUp!
Illustration: Johannes Leak
GetUp! spent more than 70 per cent of the $12.4m in public donations it raised last year on staff salaries, administration costs and travel, despite telling supporters “every dollar” they gave would be used to build a fairer Australia with spending on billboards, hard-hitting TV ads and rallies.
The left-leaning activist group devoted $3.6m from its annual donations total to “campaign expenses” in a federal election year while outlaying $7.2m on salaries and employee benefits.
Another $1.4m was spent on back-room administration costs, $806,000 on rent, and more than $500,000 on travel to fly national director Paul Oosting and other staff around the country, according to the group’s audited financial report. As a not-for-profit company, GetUp does not pay income tax because its financial reports show annual deficits.
According to The Australian, The GetUp chief declined to respond when asked how his organisation’s donations income-to-expenditure ratio compared with others in the charities and non-profit industry. He declined to confirm salary levels for individual leaders, including himself, which are figures commonly disclosed in the filed reports of major companies and trade unions. GetUp! seems to be an exemption to that too.
In short, GetUp! is a party-political, activist arm of Labor, campaigning throughout Federal elections, yet has avoided “associated organisation” status under the Electoral Act. It is run for the sole purpose of concentrating money & power in the hands on the executives, all the while branding itself as a grass-roots organisation, similar to a union, in that the executives claim to work for the down trodden only to then siphon off prime ministerial sized salaries for the privilege of just being there for them.
The deceptive actions of the executives of GetUp! seem to be coming home to roost, with donators and supporters starting to dissent, claiming that the leadership is secretive about how the millions of dollars raised from public donations, lack of transparency, with next to no member participation or say on how the organisation is run.
Critics that have served as long-time GetUp! volunteers have stated that the executives don’t seem to appreciate being critiqued. In fact, they outright dislike it. A former volunteer said,
“Executives seem to take the view that new people are coming in all the time, so it doesn’t matter if loyal volunteers leave”.
GetUp!’s response to this criticism was to simply put it down to volunteers being burned out after the last Federal Election, almost 12 months ago.
The ultimate irony lies in the fact that a Not-For-Profit organisation like GetUp! that spends a good portion of its time perpetually outraged at capitalist corporations, in particular their wealthy executives, being greedy and wealthy at the expense of the every day Australian, GetUp! have all but done exactly the same thing.