Next week, both the House and the Senate are sitting. We must demand that, this time, its gag on discussion about Julian Assange be lifted. The following article has been adapted from the attached PDF file for a double-sided A5 leaflet, which I handed out in the early evening of last Friday 25 November at our weekly vigil for Julian Assange outside of Melbourne's Flinders Street Station: There are 39 members of Parliament who want Anthony Albanese to use the powers vested in him as Prime Minister of Australia to make the British government end the illegal imprisonment and torture of Julian Assange and allow him to return to Australia to be with his wife, Stella, and their two children, but they have been prevented from arguing this to Parliament for more than two years.
The rules of Parliament allow only the Government and the Opposition leadership to put a motion to Parliament for discussion and a vote. For a motion, not supported by either the Government or the Opposition, to be put, standing orders have to be suspended.
Almost 12 months ago on 2 December 2021, Tasmanian independent MP Andrew Wilkie attempted to move a motion in support of Jullian Assange (see below), but his procedural motion to suspend standing orders was lost. No-one who voted against the procedural motion gave Andrew Wilkie or the people of Australia the courtesy of an explanation as to why they were opposed to Wilkie’s motion being put. Apparently they just followed orders to vote to gag Andrew Wilkie and others who supported Julian Assange.
In the last 12 months since that day, on 35 sitting days for the House of Representatives and 28 for the Senate – as Julian Assange remained illegally locked away in solitary confinement for more than 23 days, and as many across the world were crying out for his freedom - the subject of Julian Assange has been mentioned in passing, in contexts unrelated to his welfare, on eight occasions without any Government response.
At next week’s sitting: demand your Parliament lift the gag on discussion of Julian Assange
Next week,the House will be sitting for four days and the Senate will be sitting for five days. The people of Australia must tell their representatives that they expect them to finally allow parliamentary discussion of the terrible plight of the world’s most well-known political prisoner – and an Australian – Julian Assange. The 39 members of the Bring Julian Assange Home Parliamentary Support Group must be contacted and urged, next week, in both houses to put the necessary procedural motion to allow the following motion that Andrew Wilkie tried to put last year, or an updated adaptation of it, to be put:
That the House:
(1) notes that:
(a) Walkley Award winning Australian journalist, Mr Julian Assange, remains incarcerated in HMP Belmarsh in the United Kingdom, despite a British Court earlier this year finding that Mr Assange could not be extradited to the United States of America for health reasons;
(b) the US continues to pursue Mr Assange and has recently been back in court in the UK appealing the earlier decision to refuse the extradition;
(c) the reason for the US's determination to extradite Mr Assange is limited to Wikileaks' exposes in 2010 and 2011 of US war crimes and other misconduct in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in Guantanamo Bay, including the release of the 'Collateral Murder' video in which a US helicopter in Iraq gunned down innocent civilians including journalists;
(d) recent revelations in the media show the Central Intelligence Agency developed plans to abduct and assassinate Mr Assange; and
(e) the continuing incarceration of Mr Assange, and any extradition to the US, would not only be a grave injustice but a severe threat to his health and life; and
(2) calls on the Prime Minister to:
(a) speak directly with his counterparts in the US and UK to bring an end to this madness, including the US dropping all charges against Mr Assange and the UK allowing his immediate release; and
(b) commit to not allow the extradition of Mr Assange to the US from Australia.
Whilst, there is good reason to fear that the necessary procedural motion to suspend standing orders to allow this motion to be put will again be defeated, if, this time, a division is called for this time, at least we will know which Members of Parliament and which Senators support free speech and debate on the floors of our Parliament and which are opposed.
The world would then know, firstly, that in the national Parliament of the country of which Julian Assange is a citizen, there are members who support Julian Assange. They would also be made aware that the Government of this country, which could make the British government end its illegal imprisonment today, if it chose to, fears scrutiny by Parliament of its shameful conduct.