Julian Assange interviewed on what the WikiLeaks Party will mean to Aboriginal peoples
Julian Assange – Photo, niemanlab.org
There is a new political party on the horizon – the WikiLeaks Party. Founded by Julian Assange the fledgling party is bidding for Canberra through the Senate. They have seven Senate candidates including Julian Assange.
Mr Assange was interviewed this week byThe Stringer, while holed up in London’s Ecuadorean Embassy in his seeking of Asylum to protect him from the fate that Private Bradley Manning faces in the United States.
The WikiLeaks Party is polling strongly and if the polls were to reflect accurately on election day, September 7, the party would find it has three and maybe four Australian Senators.
Mr Assange said that the WikiLeaks Party stands alongside all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in their struggle and right to self-determination. The party has an eleven member National Council, with one of its national councillors Gamilaroy man Luke Pearson. Mr Pearson, a teacher and the creator of the highly respected social media project @IndigenousX, is unfolding, alongside others, policy positions and calls for justice for Aboriginal peoples. Mr Pearson is well known for his passion for Aboriginal education as part of a true Australian society and the common good.
Mr Assange said to The Stringer that as a result of his vast travels around our world he has realised that Australia’s Aboriginal peoples are the world’s most disenfranchised first nations peoples. He described the Northern Territory Intervention as one of the saddest low points in contemporary Australian history and the military’s role in it as “comic book abuse.” An abuse and violation of Aboriginal rights and identity.
The Stringer asked Mr Assange the following questions:
What has driven you to create a WikiLeaks Party subsequent the WikiLeaks publishing organisation?
“The goal of the WikiLeaks publishing organisation was to achieve justice through providing transparency, defending the historical record by providing documentation,” said Mr Assange.
“We’ve had significant successes over the past seven years. Unexpectedly, we’ve also thrown light on things by the response to us which has revealed the true nature of power relationships, and the weaknesses of certain groups as well as their strengths.”
“But if you care about something it’s necessary to pursue its realisation in every area that we can. And the Australian federal election is an opportunity to do that. And the Australian WikiLeaks Party is a vehicle to take the principles I have fought for most clearly with WikiLeaks, and apply them to another domain. And to use that other domain in creative ways to bring about justice through transparency and accountability in an Australian political context.”
Your step-dad has some Torres Strait Islander heritage. Has the heritage become part of your form and content in any way?
“I was very close to my step father from a young age. George Assange, my step-grandfather, was a relatively well-known, perhaps the best-known Torres Strait Islander of the time. He was a singer and a comedian. Through my having lived in the Bush a lot, throughout Australia, because of the nature of my upbringing with parents in the theatre, needing to travel to many different country towns and my parents also having a great love of the Australian bush, I was well-aware of Aboriginal culture. As a child I had Aboriginal friends as the ‘local gangs’ in Lismore for example.”
What have been your personal experiences of marginalised Aboriginal peoples?
“For those who have been up in Hillboro and other places where Aboriginal culture is still intact when you compare their experiences to the extremely marginalised Aboriginal culture that exists in many Australian cities you can see where family, community and even linguistic relationships have been torn asunder,” said Mr Assange.
“You don’t really have perspective in Australia on just how bad it is until you’ve been out of the country for a while and have had the opportunity to compare (Australia’s Aboriginal peoples) to other native peoples.”
“The Australian Aboriginal peoples are possibly the most disenfranchised group of native peoples – certainly the most disenfranchised of all native peoples in an Anglo-Saxon country. Interestingly, there does seem to be a bit of a renaissance over the past five years. It’s hard to know why. Maybe a generational change probably as a result of the internet. Aboriginal Australians being able to form associations, communities and businesses, finding each other faster – those are low-wait mechanisms that allow many to prosper.”
What do you think of the way and manner the Government marched the ‘Intervention’ into the Northern Territory? And of how it was enabled?
“(It was) one of the saddest, if not the saddest episodes of Australian history of the past ten years. A comic-book abuse of the role of the Australian military. A terrible violation of the right of Aboriginal Australia to determine its own destiny.”
Mr Assange said that the Intervention was “…aided and abetted by the credulous mainstream media’s demonization of Aboriginals as sexual deviants.”
“The Intervention by the Australian military and police in Aboriginal Australia not only was a diversion of their role and an abuse of the mechanisms of government for a purely political purpose, but it also undermined the traditional authority structure that all healthy communities must have. How can Aboriginal peoples exercise legitimate power or authority and set community standards when it is completely apparent that they have no practical physical authority within their community?”
“They can’t, and without legitimate authority there is no stability and the worst rise to the top.”
Australia is the world’s 12th largest economy, 2nd on the United Nations Development Program (UNDEP) Human Index ranking for social wealth, highest median wages in the world, but 150,000 Aboriginal peoples live impoverished, the majority of these near akin to Third World conditions – Why? What’s your view about where it’s all gone wrong? Why isn’t the Senate addressing these issues?
“On the one hand we could compare Aboriginal Australia to the Maori of New Zealand and say the strength of the Maori is simply a result of them having ten times the relative population size. They are big enough to form a significant lobby and protect themselves and extract concessions. And that analysis is in part correct. The Aboriginal population has been so decimated, and its communities and linguistic structures so torn apart over the last 200 years, that it finds it difficult to form an effective lobby to defend its rights,” said Mr Assange.
“On the other hand, any difficulty which affects only 1-2 per cent of the population is easily within Australia’s financial ability to solve. The problems of Aboriginal Australia cannot be said to be so large that (Australia) is not able to solve them. The (Aboriginal) population is only 2 per cent (of the total population) so it’s time to forever end any excuse based on the idea that the Australian Government cannot afford to solve the difficulties faced by Aboriginal Australians, and the scandalous differences in life expectancy and other indicators.”
Why isn’t the Australian Senate addressing these issues?
“It seems to be a failure of imagination. We know there is still plenty of racism against Aboriginal Australia. Big business is involved as well. Big mining companies wanting to be able to control Aboriginal land whenever they want. The big agro-cartels and other high-acreage farmers wanting to farm Aboriginal land if they want, and these lobbies strongly influence the Coalition and the Australian Labor Party.”
“But times are changing. It’s clear that Aboriginal Australia has increasing influence. With the growth of internet technology there are a number of Aboriginal publications. The linking together of the Aboriginal fight for their self-determination with other liberation groups, is an important trend.”
What does self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait peoples mean for you?
“In my early twenties I have been a liberationist. I believe that everyone and every community must fight to control their own destiny and place in the world. This is the essence of self-determination: to be, where possible, the primary author of the decisions that affect you, and at the very least to be able to guide these decisions in such a way that the unjust components are eliminated and the just components prosper,” said Mr Assange.
What will the WikiLeaks Party do for Aboriginal peoples?
“The pursuit of self-determination for the Aboriginal peoples of Australia is a component not merely of the party’s policy, but its constitution. Australia as a State is seeing its people’s rights to self-determination being compromised more broadly as a result of the corruption of the US alliance and the behaviour of transnational corporations on Australian soil. If we are not careful, all Australian citizens will find themselves in the same position as Aboriginal Australia. We must all unite together to stop this.”
Do you see the WikiLeaks Party replicated throughout the world?
“There is strong interest in the US, India, Ireland. One of the major betting agencies in Ireland already has bets you can place for when the first Irish, British, US WikiLeaks Member of Parliaments will be elected. I think it is too early to roll out to these other countries yet. We will learn a lot from the Australian election. We are already learning a lot from the electoral experience in Australia. However, after the election we are likely to proceed with other countries,” said Mr Assange.
And finally, how would WikiLeaks Senators make Jenny Macklin, minister for Aboriginal Affairs, accountable to Aboriginal peoples?
“Being voted out would be a good start.”
“In practice ministers are terrified of just two things – leaks about the behaviour of their department and themselves, and aggressive scrutiny by parliamentarians and an inquisitive media.”
The writer and interviewer of this piece, Gerry Georgatos declares an impartiality conflict of interest as he is one of the seven WikiLeaks Party Senate candidates, the lead Senate candidate for Western Australia.