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March 27th 2012 print

Royston Mitchell

Malice by proxy

Get Up has mutated into the PC enforcement wing of the federal Labor party.

Get Up has offered to fund the defamation suit against billionaire Clive Palmer, following his accusation that Queensland anti-coal campaigner Drew Hutton is “a tool of the US Government and Rockefeller and so are the Greens”. Get Up executive director Simon Sheikh confirmed that his organisation would fund Mr Hutton’s legal challenge, and said he was prepared to launch a funding drive if needed.

Of course he wants to support Hutton. What better opportunity for malice by proxy? Get Up has mutated into the PC enforcement wing of the federal Labor party.

We’ll be offering Drew any support that we can to ensure that he can have the resources he needs to take on Clive Palmer. There are many ways to make sure that Clive Palmer either apologises or that the rest of the Australian public realise this is a man who wasn’t just making colourful comments, this is a man who is making very dangerous comments in the context of the decision that stands before Queensland.

I’m sure Get Up has explored the manifold ways to ensure that Clive Palmer toes the party line. As the self-appointed moral guardians of the Occupy generation, where instant activism is just a mouse click away, Get Up has demonstrated time and again their methods of intimidation. Whenever the Labor message isn’t getting across (which is most of the time), or a conservative needs to be put in their place, Get Up is there to ensure that dissent is silenced and alternative views are shut down in the domain of public opinion.

It’s been only ten months since Get Up targeted another wealthy Australian, Harvey Norman, running a 60-second ad in a parody (déjà vu anyone?) of Harvey Norman commercials, campaigning against their use of non-plantation native timber for furniture. Within days of Palmer’s recent comments, an ad parodying him (CIA responds to Clive Palmer) emerged on You Tube, to the glee of the anti-capitalist commentariat, the left in general and Wayne Swan in particular.  While this lame attack may have been fun to make and was undoubtedly dreamt up by the soggy intellectuals of Get Up over one too many beers, one has to wonder about the pointlessness of it all. How much money was spent on such a slick ad? Uploaded 20 March, the spoof had only been viewed by 9243 You Tube voyeurs seven days later. That’s a very expensive inside joke for the amusement of the hard core Get Up faithful. Such irrational, pointless ad hominem attacks typify Get Up and the left in general, dumbing down the political debate to the point of childlike foolishness.

“Clive Palmer needs to know that he can’t bully environmental activists and get away with it,” Mr Sheikh told The Australian Online. He was visibly annoyed, and understandably so. How dare Mr Palmer bully anyone? That’s Get Up’s job! But don’t take my word for it. In July 2011, Get Up sent a warning letter to more than 150 members of the Australian Food and Grocery Council, threatening a boycott. You see, the AFGC had the temerity at the time to put its support behind a campaign to fight proposed carbon tax legislation. And Mr Sheikh wasn’t happy.

AFGC chief executive Kate Carnell hit the nail on the head at time, claiming the letter was blackmail and bullying. “There is no doubt this is blackmail. I’m horrified that an entity like Get Up, who supposedly encourage free speech (ah, Ms Carnell, cardinal sin number one – progressives are only interested in their free speech) seems only to believe that’s OK when people agree with Get Up. Threatening a boycott is really bullying”.

The confected and coordinated attack, alongside the faux moral indignation by Get Up over Clive Palmer’s refusal to apologise seems a little too coincidental for my liking. Call me cynical, but hasn’t the world’s greatest Treasurer just launched his own blistering, bumbling attack on Palmer and his other conservative consort, Gina Rinehart? Hasn’t the eternal Marxist class war re-erupted between the hyer-rich miners and the rest of us poor, suffering fools? In his attack on “vested interests” in The Monthly, “The 0.01 Per Cent: The Rising Influence of Vested Interests in Australia”, Mr Swan singles out Mitt Romney, Gina Rinehart, John Singleton and Clive Palmer as part of the 0.01 per cent conspiracy. Their crime? They are all wealthy, and even more disturbingly, they are all conservatives.

Graeme Wood, the founder of Wotif, was recently referred to a parliamentary committee in relation to a $1.6 million donation he made to the Greens and subsequent arrangements surrounding the sale of the Triabunna woodchip mill by Gunns Ltd. This story had all the quintessential elements of a classic Get Up beat up; a wealthy Australian, using his wealth to interfere in politics and, just like Harvey Norman, implicated in native timber and Tasmania. You’d think Get Up would be all over this. You’d be wrong. Not a word about any of this from Get Up. It seems their lofty principles don’t stretch to any activities related to the Greens, or to philanthropic millionaires from the left. One is left with no doubt that Simon Sheikh and his band of merry men have no interest in – or objection to – the leaked Greenpeace report, Stopping (the) Australian Coal Export Boom. Curiously, Swan didn’t mention Wood either when he spoke of the 0.01 per cent polluting politics and public opinion:

The latest example of this is the foray by Australia’s richest person, Gina Rinehart, into Fairfax Media, reportedly in an attempt to wield greater influence on public opinion and further her commercial interests at a time when the overwhelming economic consensus is that it’s critical to use the economic weight of the resources boom to strengthen the entire economy.

Conspiracy theories don’t come any more ludicrous, or more disturbing. According to Swan, the rich using their wealth to wield greater influence is only a problem when that rich person is conservative. If that rich person is, say, Al Gore, the world’s first climate change billionaire, then his pyramid scheme-like ‘Climate Reality Project’ is fine and dandy with Swan – especially when it accords with Labor’s own Climate Change orthodoxy. If that rich person is Graeme Wood, whose online newspaper, The Global Mail, funded to the tune of $15 million over five years, propagates those ideas that are near and dear to the hearts of all progressives – let’s not question those vested interests.

There is a common thread running through Get Up’s transparently malicious attempt to intimidate Palmer, and Swan’s transparently weak attempt to intimidate Rinehart, Singleton and Palmer – they are fed up with capitalism, and capitalists, and most especially, rich and conservative Australians. Get Up aren’t funding a legal challenge against Palmer because they have a philosophical and ethical interest in securing an apology for Drew Hutton. Hutton is the puppet being dangled in front of Get Up’s more secretive and vindictive agenda. Their intent isn’t to correct Palmer, it’s to hurt him. How dare this hyper wealthy Australian be a Conservative? In an age where the internet can be harnessed as a potent force of change – witness the Arab Spring and Wikileaks – Get Up are the ultimate vested interest.