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When is GetUp going to get a real job?

July 11, 2011

 

In the small pond of professional protesters GetUp would have to be the biggest fish in Australia. Boasting that it has over 570,000 members and leading the charge on all the predictable social issues GetUp has grown where other organizations have barely moved. In the one year alone they had received over $1,942,277 in donations. The largest single donation of $1,120,000 came from the CFMEU (used to run the Tony Abbotts Archaic Views television commercial in the last federal election). This donation came in the same year that GetUp was campaigning to have political donations reduced to $1000.

Political Donations

Our politicians are elected to work for us, but at the moment someone else is writing the cheques – to the tune of millions of dollars. Nearly 50,000 GetUp members signed a petition to tell the government to get corporate and third-party influence out of politics and end all large scale political donations.

  • Only individuals should be allowed to donate to political parties.
  • Immediate public listing of donations
  • Cap individual donations at a reasonable limit. (Capped at $1,000 a year)
  • Increase public funding of political parties.

Yet here we have a list of Unions and individual donating amounts far in excess of $1,000 a year:

  • ASU $35,000.00,
  • CPSU (Community & Public Sector Union) $50,000
  • CFMEU $1,120,000 and
  • Largest individual donation from Mr/Ms Jo Skrynski $137,500

After this discloser of their blatant hypocrisy the Political Donations campaign was discretely forgotten.

 

GetUp had other moral crusades to move onto.

A quick look at the current campaigns run by GetUp include: banning livestock export; protesting against Harvey Norman; children in detention; same sex marriage and what they call ‘Climate Action Now.’ (The protest against Harvey Norman seems questionable at best.)

Yet it is the ‘climate action now’ campaign that is cause of greatest concern. GetUp has decided to target 150 members of the Australian Food and Grocery Council demanding that reply to their letter.

We’re asking companies the below questions and weʼll inform our members and the Australian public of the answers to these.
1. Do you accept the science of climate change?
2. Do you believe the Australian Government should take action to address climate change in the cheapest and most effective way possible?
3. Do you support the proposed AFGC campaign against carbon pricing?
4. If you do not support the AFGC campaigning against carbon pricing will you immediately write to the AFGC to inform them of your position and will you resign your membership from the AFGC if they continue to provide material support to the proposed scare campaign?

The letter penned by National Director of GetUp Australia, Simon Sheikh reads like a threat to use 570,000 members to ‘boycott goods and services’ of the Australian Food and Grocery Council. Coca-Cola, Sanitarium, Heinz, Kraft, McDonald’s, Schweppes and Nestle have all received letters.

 

Now for the reality check.

To claim, as GetUp does, to have 570,000 members is gross exaggeration of their membership and power. To be included in this number a person need only subscribe to an email list. Given that many people have multiple email addresses or have changed their email addresses and resubscribed it is reasonable to assume that this number is inflated. How many people are aware that they are being counted as a member merely because they have received emails from GetUp? Not many, I suspect. Some people may receive emails but fervently disagree with GetUp’s policies. Thus it becomes a question of honesty.

There is a huge difference between default memberships due to email subscription and active financial membership. Anyone who has belonged to a committee knows that it is the active and financial members that do the work. GetUp does not clarify how many active members that they have. This is because the figures are most likely a tiny fraction of the 570,000 that they like to use in their ‘boycott’ threats.

The closest we come to accurate figures of financial membership are the 46,108 donors from last year. Of which 30,318 were recorded as first time donors. If less than one tenth of GetUp’s quoted 570,000 were willing to donate any money then we have an indication of the commitment of the remaining nine tenths.

I find it hard to believe that there will be a national boycott of Coca-Cola, Sanitarium, Heinz, Kraft, McDonald’s, Schweppes and Nestle has any chance of success. After all, don’t things go better with Coke? Could anyone seriously give up the temptation to having fries with that? Or snapping open a chocolate bar; skipping baked beans? The whole threat falls apart because it penalizes the very people who would enforce the boycott.

Also why should anyone answer a series of leading questions about their personal opinions by any activist organization? Especially when the wrong answer will be penalized by GetUp?

In short this is an inquisition packaged with a very lame and idle threat of a massive boycott. Simon Sheikh is demanding that everyone must declare their position is in perfect synchronisation with GetUp or they will financially penalize them with boycotts. The targeted Australian Food and Grocery Council members have every right to call GetUp’s bluff and politely tell Simon Sheikh to get a real job. Like one of those jobs that he has threatened to take away with his imaginary 570,000 member boycott.

Science does not need Simon Sheikh acting as a self appointed Grand Inquisitor. The prospect of having political activists in charge of a Science Inquisition is frightening because threatens scientific investigation itself.

Get a real job GetUp. Science Inquisition is not your forte.

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