Albanese and Dutton grudgingly admit that Assange should be freed
Albanese and Dutton finally publicly agree that Assange’s imprisonment should end, but slur his efforts for peace and press freedom. Successive Australian governments have failed Julian Assange and the principles of freedom of the press and the public right to know, as they don’t really believe in them. It is only because the public are exerting more and more pressure that they are now going through the motions, far too late, perhaps to free Assange. Australians need to keep the pressure up on their government to act to free Assange.
On 5 May 2023, whilst in the UK, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese allowed himself to be interviewed specifically on the issue of Assange's continuing imprisonment. This signalled some changes in the Australian government position, which then became less ambiguous and apparently more proactive. It is very important that the federal opposition has backed Albanese's position.
The fact that a visit to Australia from US President Biden was scheduled meant that such a public statement from the Australian PM was particularly significant.
This time, the Prime Minister categorically said that he thought that nothing would be served by having Julian Assange remain in prison. He added that he had issues with what Julian had done, but gave no example. It is widely thought, however, that he probably means publishing US State Secrets, which is unfair because this is a traditional act of journalists and, moreover, those ‘state secrets’ were cover-ups for heinous state war-crimes. 
Similarly, the leader of the opposition, Mr Dutton, who came out supporting the PM's position, said that he thought Julian had brought some of his problems on himself - but gave no example either.
Such comments by the PM and the Opposition leader, amount to calculated slurs, and one wonders what they may signify for Assange's treatment even if he is released.
Seasoned observers know there is a risk that Albanese may try to negotiate Julian's freedom on conditions, such as requiring him to give the US information he has withheld so far. There are certainly precedents for this, for example, the case of David Hicks who was held without charge or trial at Guantanamo Bay for years. Under duress, Hicks was made to agree to an admission of guilt, in order to get the Australian Government to help him. Then, when he was delivered back to Australia, he was placed in maximum security prison for a year. After that, he was on probation for some time. The whole thing was incredibly unfair and ultimately the US admitted that Hicks had never committed any crime.
However, regarding Assange, Prime Minister Albanese did reiterate this time that he could not see what would be served by Julian remaining in prison and that he has concerns about Julian's health.
He has also raised again the legal issue that Chelsea Manning is free but Julian isn't.
Previously the PM's statements were ambiguous. Notably, bringing the matter of Assange 'to a conclusion,' could have meant that Albanese wanted Assange transported over to America as soon as possible. But this time he has said he feels that Assange's imprisonment should be ceased.
Moreover, he promised, "I'll engage diplomatically in order to achieve a solution."
Biden's then relatively immanent visit meant that the international press was more likely to pick up on such statements. Now, Biden isn't coming.
The Prime Minister also said that he had made his opinion clear to the US and that that is all he can do.
The prime minister’s statements should not stop there. He should be more talking very vigorously and persistently to do his utmost to bring his about Julian’s freedom as soon as possible.
If Assange is not freed in the very near future, then Australians will suspect Prime Minister Albanese’s sincerity and that he is doing nothing effective behind the scenes. Perhaps he will need to make a bigger fuss, perhaps threaten to cancel the nuclear sub orders from the US. Australia is a most important US ally, so Albanese should be able to exert a lot more pressure than words.
Since these statements, made on 5 May, Assange’s wife, Stella, arrived in Australia. It was reported on 22 May that, discouragingly, the Prime Minister refused Independent MP Andrew Wilkie’s request for Albanese to meet with Stella, with the churlish excuse that he ‘does not believe in ‘grandstanding.’
Albanese fails to stand against war-crimes cover-ups and censorship of the press
This graceless and inhumane refusal emphasises something else that should be said, which is that the Prime Minister has failed to stand clearly on the issues of the public right to know and freedom of the press. He has not only failed to underline how important Julian’s actions have been for those freedoms, he has really avoided the issue.
The point is that anyone who cares about Julian Assange and wants him released, normally says, if he's not released the whole freedom of the press will be completely sacrificed to tyranny, and peace to lies. But the Prime Minister has not said that. All he said, is that he's worried about Julian's health, he feels he's suffered ‘enough,’ although he disagrees with some of his actions. And he wants him released from prison.
So, he hasn't identified the heroic principles that Assange defended, and maybe we should not be surprised, because Australia has secret trials and imprisons whistleblowers, with very harsh sentences, just like the UK and the USA.
So, maybe that is the crux of why successive Australian governments have failed Julian Assange and the principles of freedom of the press and the public right to know. They don’t really believe in them, in fact, they actively flout them, and it is only because the public are exerting more and more pressure that they are now going through the motions, far too late, perhaps to free Assange.
Albanese has also insinuated that Assange published state secrets willy-nilly without concern about the consequences to human lives. This is far from the truth.
‘“I’m not going to sit here as someone who chairs our National Security Committee and say it’s fine if you publish all of the details about our National Security Committee deliberations because if you did that Australian lives would be put in danger,’’ he said.
“There are real consequences for that … I’m a big supporter of freedom of the press, but with that also comes a responsibility to take into account the consequences of whether information which is not available to the public, what the consequences would be if we had just a free for all.’ Source: https://www.news.com.au/national/politics/anthony-albanese-sends-strong-message-on-julian-assanges-ongoing-incarceration/news-story/c10078f0fdb8b972c83822cc96fd72d7