The usual Leftist hypocrisy
Get Up! funded anti-Abbott ad with union's $1m gift
THE advocacy group GetUp! accepted a record $1.12 million donation from a large union just before the federal election, at the same time supporting a ban on political donations from unions and business.
The donation from the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union funded a prominent TV advertisement that attacked the Liberal leader Tony Abbott's "archaic" views on women and social issues in the days before the election in August.
It went to air as a GetUp! advertisement with no reference to being largely funded by a big Labor-affiliated union. The high-profile group, which says it has more than 300,000 members, pursues issues such as climate change and refugees. Its successful High Court challenge before the election enabled tens of thousands of young people to vote.
But its willingness to take such a large donation, of the type it wants banned, has led to claims it has been hypocritical.
The opposition leader in the Senate, Eric Abetz, said the donation showed GetUp! was nothing more than a Labor front and the advertising could have changed the election result.
"It's clear there is a strong relationship between the unions and GetUp! and the Labor Party campaign," he said. "With that sort of money the CFMEU could have run and authorised their own advertisement but they deliberately got GetUp! to do that as a third party so the odium of the CFMEU wouldn't be associated with the advertising campaign."
Since 2008 GetUp! has been campaigning to stop unions and businesses donating to political parties. It says only individuals should be allowed to donate, capped at $1000 a year. It has nearly reached its target of 50,000 names on a petition on the issue. The petition reads. "Tell the government to get corporate and third-party influence out of politics and end all large-scale political donations. "Our democracy should not be for sale but right now the people we elect to govern us take money from those who stand to gain from government policy and contracts."
GetUp! bills itself as "an independent, grassroots community advocacy organisation" and says it received no money from political parties or government.
Its acting national director, Sam McLean, rejected the claims of hypocrisy. "We had a good think about whether we wanted to [accept the money] but in the end decided that we'd already made the ad. It was not like anyone was giving us a cheque and asking us to run a campaign. It was something we already believed in and had on air." He said the group would be happy for future legislation to ban the type of donation, which he said came from the construction division of the union.
The union contribution is nearly 10 times the size of any donation disclosed since it was founded in 2005.