08/03/2012 – Hansard Transcript
Speakers Parker Mr Jamie
Business Private Members Statements, PRIV
Mr JAMIE PARKER (Balmain) [6.05 p.m.]: I respond today to the efforts of so many people in my local community to speak out in support of Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, and Bradley Manning. I am proud of the activists in my community and around New South Wales, the work of my Federal Greens colleagues, trade unionists, journalists and jurists—just to name a few. They are a small part of a huge international movement to support human rights, whistleblowers, and above all promote openness, transparency and truth in government. Just this week we voted for the former Premier of this State to fill a vacancy and thus become a Federal senator. The Prime Minister has declared that she will immediately move him to the front bench and he will then become the foreign Minister.
By all accounts Bob Carr is a man of strong intellect and conviction. But he takes on a role in a Government that has failed to do what we would all expect of government if we were overseas. Today I am calling on Bob Carr to do the right thing: to reject the appalling position that the Australian Government has taken and be an advocate for Julian Assange. It now seems that Mr Assange is facing the prospect of the enormous resources of the United States justice system being levelled against him. The Greens in the Australian Federal Government and I in the State Parliament are demanding the Australian Government take action to ensure the legal and consular rights of WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange are upheld. It is a right that we should all take for granted.
There is the potential for him to be transferred to the United States. We are concerned that our Government has done nothing to investigate the secret United States grand jury investigation into WikiLeaks, which could lead to Mr Assange’s extradition to the United States. We know the Australian Government had even considered charging Mr Assange with treason but later retracted its previous statements that Mr Assange’s actions were criminal. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard failed to support Mr Assange after calling the leaks “an illegal act” and even suggested that his Australian passport should be cancelled. The Federal Government backtracked from those decisions in the face of international and national pressure. Australia’s new foreign Minister should be asking our friends in the United States about this secretive grand jury process, the evidence and the motivations for such an unprecedented targeting of an Australian citizen.
Emails leaked from the United States intelligence consultants Stratfor have confirmed that the United States Government has a grand jury indictment for Mr Assange. The Australian Government should be making a strong public stand to support an Australia citizen abroad who has been subject to the most extraordinary attacks and threats for simply exposing the truth. The attacks do not stop with Julian Assange but have extended to attempts to financially cripple WikiLeaks in order to keep the secrets of so-called diplomacy, war, the reality behind the corporate world and the intelligence community and what passes for politics in many places of the world from the view of the public. Funding institutions such as Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, Western Union, and Bank of America have refused to handle payments for the organisation. I encourage members and the wider community to visit WikiLeaks website, www.wikileaks.org, and donate to ensure their important work can continue and to call on those firms that are engaging in the financial blockade to reverse their attempts to suppress the work of WikiLeaks to promote openness and transparency in government.
I cannot mention the work of WikiLeaks without addressing the plight of Bradley Manning. Bradley Manning is a 23-year-old army intelligence analyst and is alleged to have leaked video, documents and cables demonstrating human rights abuses by the United States military and their contractors, as well as evidence of spying and bribery and the now notorious “collateral murder” video. The video showed the killing of civilians, including two Reuters journalists, by a United States Apache helicopter crew in Iraq. The collateral murder video showed the world the real face of war—innocent people brutally killed. It was a powerful moment which was an important part of the effort to force the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Not a single person has been harmed by the release of this information, unlike the deaths seen in the information released.
Although Bradley has not yet been tried he was held in solitary confinement for the first 10 months of his incarceration. During this time he was denied meaningful exercise, social interaction and sunlight, and he has occasionally been kept completely naked. A country with such proud rhetoric as the United States should be supporting and protecting whistleblowers, not subjecting them to treatment which the United Nations rapporteur has described as “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment”. I encourage members to visit www.bradleymanning.org for more information on this important issue. I conclude by saying that I trust the former Premier of this State will now take on his role as a foreign Minister and act to defend the dignity of all of those people in Australia, protect the human rights of Mr Assange, and promote justice, openness and transparency in the world.
Private members’ statements concluded.