Assange launches party to contest Australia polls
SYDNEY, New South Wales - Agence France-Presse
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. REUTERS PhotoWikiLeaks founder Julian Assange Thursday officially launched his political party to contest Australian elections this year, saying a victory for his candidates would be akin to planting the country's "best investigative journalists" in the Senate.
Assange, the Australian founder of the whistleblowing website, said the WikiLeaks Party would field seven candidates for upper house Senate seats in the states of New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia.
Despite being holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for more than a year, the 42-year-old will run in Victoria, saying he planned to be "an independent scrutineer of government activity".
"WikiLeaks Party's core values of transparency, accountability and justice are the template against which we will examine any important issues for Australians: tax reform, asylum-seekers, climate change policy and more," he said in an opinion piece in The Australian newspaper. "We will not accept legislation or government policy that is based on inaccurate, poorly disclosed or inadequate information. "In this way our positions will always reflect fairness, good government policy and practice, and protecting the interests of all Australians." Australia is due to go into the polls before the end of November with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's Labor up against the Tony Abbott-led conservatives.
Opinion polls suggest Abbott will narrowly win.
Assange said he plans to keep politicians honest, complaining about "the stealth with which our elected representatives have worked together (often across party lines) to pass laws without proper public consultation".
"Putting the WLP in the Senate is the same as putting Australia's best investigative journalists in the Senate," he said. "That is what the dishonest Canberra establishment fears most." A key plank of Rudd's re-election campaign is a hardline response to deter boatpeople, announcing last week that all unauthorised arrivals would be sent to Papua New Guinea for assessment. They will be either settled there, sent back home or shipped to third countries.
Assange said one of his party's first actions would be to demand full details of the government's arrangement with PNG to be made public.
"Under the Migration Act 1951 Australia retains an obligation to Australia-bound asylum-seekers it may 'transfer' to PNG," he said. "Considering PNG's developing country status the Australian government must disclose how it will assist the PNG to financially support resettled refugees." Assange has been living inside Ecuador's embassy since June 2012 as he fights extradition from Britain to Sweden, where authorities want to question him over alleged sex crimes.
The activist has voiced fears that the United States wants to put him on trial after WikiLeaks angered US officials through massive leaks of sensitive diplomatic correspondence and material on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.