13 December 2007

When the going gets tough, does Get Up get going?

The Australian yesterday ran a story "Get Up deserts Hicks over control order".

One of David Hicks's greatest champions, the online activist group Get Up, yesterday deserted the convicted terrorist supporter.

Get Up campaigns manager Ed Coper yesterday refused to criticise the decision by the new Labor Government to impose a control order on Hicks after his release from Adelaide's maximum security Yatala prison at the end of the month.

"All governments have got to weigh up the liberties of individuals and security as a whole," Mr Coper said.

Get Up campaigned strongly for Labor in marginal seats during the campaign for the November 24 election.

The Get Up website challenges this:

The Latest

Thursday, 13 December 2007
The Australian has reported that GetUp has abandoned David Hicks by refusing to criticise the control order to be imposed on him - this is untrue!!

GetUp does find control orders in general highly problematic, and further believes that, based on the evidence publicly available, they would be inappropriate for David Hicks.

We will continue to fight any infringements on the basic rights and liberties of all Australians, including David Hicks.

Today's Australian on page 2 contained a clarification of the article and a letter from GetUp to correct this error.

The Australian's website doesn't appear to show the "clarification", nor does my print copy (or the website) have a letter from Get Up on p2.

What does appear in my copy under the heading "clarification" is this:

"An article in The Australian yesterday("GetUp deserts Hicks over control order") claimed that GetUp campaigned for Labor in marginal seats during the recent election. In fact, GetUp presented independent material rating all parties on election day in more than 100 seats, not just in marginal seats or in support of Labor as claimed."

Some interesting points here. Apart from The Australian's reluctance to put the clarification on its website, GetUp hasn't really indicated how it might support "any infringements on the basic rights and liberties of all Australians, including David Hicks."

Perhaps it could enlist Julian Burnside. His position, as reported in The Australian article, is far less equivocal:

Liberty Victoria president Julian Burnside QC said Hicks did not warrant a control order based on information on the "public record".

Mr Burnside warned that when the order was decided upon by a magistrate, the AFP could keep some evidence secret from Hicks. He said "secret evidence" raised the spectre of the botched prosecution of Gold Coast doctor Mohamed Haneef, warning that Hicks would be powerless to "correct" any mistakes in the evidence.

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