Is Julian Assange set to run for Australian Senate?

by Mark Benson on March 17, 2012

in General Information

Will Julian Assange dish the dirt on his political opponents?

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is considering whether to run for Senate in his homeland country of Australia despite his ongoing extradition treaty and his house arrest in the UK. While this revelation will surprise many people it seems that Australian constitutional laws may well allow his entry into the race to Senate.

Who is Julian Assange?

There are very few people who will not have heard of Julian Assange because he is the founder of Wikileaks and has grabbed press headlines around the world in his battle to release various documents, both confidential and non-confidential, into the public domain. Indeed there are many who believe that the Australian citizen is currently at the centre of a plot to silence him by various governments around the world, led by the US authorities.

His ongoing criminal investigation is related to allegations of assault of a serious nature which came about around the time that he released hundreds of thousands of classified US embassy cables (e-mails) in 2010. Julian Assange is adamant that he has been “set up” alleging that he was informed about a US government plot to frame him prior to his arrest by the authorities.

How can he run for office in Australia?

Julia Assange is an Australian citizen and indeed his mother still lives in Australia and has been highlighting the plight of her son. Under the Australian Constitution those who are convicted of a crime by “Australian law” and receive a 12 month or more prison sentence, actual or suspended, cannot run for office. However, there is an ongoing belief within certain areas of the political arena that any overseas convictions would not necessarily void any attempt to stand for the Senate.

The Australian government has so far refused to comment upon rumours that Julian Assange may stand for Senate and they are unwilling to make any ruling prior to the next Senate election which will be July 2013 at the earliest. The situation is further complicated by the fact that candidates are not able to register until the poll date is announced and even then they have scope to add themselves to the fray up until one month before the voting date.

Why is Julian Assange looking to stand for Senate in Australia?

Julian Asante is not the first person to consider standing for Senate in Australia where the likelihood of receiving enough votes is low to say the least. We have seen a whole array of different politicians standing on the independent platform to highlight various political and non-political agendas. However, there are few who have the same worldwide profile as that now assigned to Julian Assange after his Wikileaks revelations and ongoing battle with governments around the world.

There is a growing feeling that the announcement that he may well stand for Senate in Australia is something of a backlash against the Australian government which admits that his Wikileaks revelations have not broken any Australian laws. However, Julia Gillard has refused to back her fellow Australian and claims that he was “grossly irresponsible” in releasing highly confidential and highly damaging information into the public arena. Whether or not Julia Gillard will be around to feel the potential wrath of Julian Assange remains to be seen!

All he needs to do now is get himself onto the Australian electoral and basically his political campaign can begin.

Who will support the Wikileaks founder?

The Wikileaks revelations have split opinion straight down the middle in relation to whether they work irresponsible or whether they are revealing the inner workings of governments around the world. Much of the information which was released into the public domain was fairly moderate and did not grab many headlines but there were a number of cables from the US Embassy which cast doubt upon previously solid relationships and opinions.

Whether or not you believe the allegations of a political cover-up there is no doubt that the introduction of Julian Assange to the Australian Senate mix will make headlines around the world. It will be interesting to see whether there are any legal objections to his entry to the fray because as it stands at the moment, under current Australian constitutional law, there would appear to be no barriers to entry even if he was convicted overseas.

Despite the fact that the odds against him winning a seat in the Senate are very slim indeed, if he was to obtain more than 4% of the vote he would be up to claim back his expenses at a rate of AUS$2 per vote. This could potentially cost the Australian taxpayer hundreds of thousands of dollars and cause yet more controversy in the life of the Wikileaks founder.

Is there an appetite for political change?

Over the last few months there has been a definitive backlash against the Australian political system with the Labour government’s infighting causing major concern as well as the performance of the economy. Australian Senate campaigns often attract the attention of “fringe entrants” who have a specific agenda or a specific line to spin. In many ways these are token gestures and novelty votes but whether or not Julian Assange would make a difference remains to be seen.

The Wikileaks founder has been a thorn in the side of many governments around the world and when he required the support of his Australian government it was not forthcoming. Whether or not they will live to regret this lack of compassion towards such a controversial figure, with literally millions upon millions of pages of confidential information to hand, remains to be seen.

Conclusion

The inclusion of Julian Assange into the next Australian Senate vote would certainly set the cat amongst the pigeons and open up the Australian political arena to further scrutiny. This is a man whom many governments around the world despise but via his Wikileaks operation he has confidential information stored around the world and he is not afraid to issue potentially embarrassing data.

Is Julian Assange the type of man you would vote for and is he the type of man you would want fighting your corner in the political arena?

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