Gagging Laws – Sit Down, Shut Up or GetUP!!

My awareness has been raised significantly around this topic.  I interviewed GetUp years ago in Sydney when they first started.  It is interesting to see how Government is changing from when I was a child.  I was around during the time of Gough Whitlam (Prime Minister), discussions were robust and there was somewhat of a democracy.  Today agendas are controlled, it is very interesting to observe.  I am seeing this in industry also.

Do you remember the 1919 Sedition Act that was revived during the Howard Years?  We see here in Australia attitudes and behaviours that are mirroring repressive regimes.  People can be held for 14 days without access to a lawyer or Judge. This legislated under the ASIO Act.  I spoke to a protester from the United States, Scott Parkin, a former teacher who was protesting Halliburton’s involvement in the Iraq War outside their headquarters in Sydney.  He was picked up in Melbourne by immigration and held (I imagine for interrogation) and deported.  Now this is a protest against Halliburton who were profiting from war.  Their former CEO was Dick Chaney who was at the time the Vice President of the US.  This article by the New York Times gives an insight into why Scott was concerned and engaged in teaching nonviolence and joining public interest.

So the question arises who is being gagged and why?  If it is to cover up illegal activity then it has to be exposed as the public would not agree given they pay for politicians who are allegedly representing us.  

To silence the public is to move away from a democratic form of governance to a totalitarian model which is not in the public interest given what we have witnessed around the world in repressive regimes.  I have been researching Burma recently and that is the extreme of where inhumanity can go.  I feel to add that anti-gathering laws I feel were stated to stop bike gangs but I wonder whether it was a test exercise as a precursor to expanding this into the public.  I recall in Egypt, on a railway platform in Alexandria when I decided to juggle.  I was dressed as a westener (under cover clown) and people gathered around me surprised.  Then the police came and broke it up. I realised I was in a repressive regime.  So laws can be quietly brought in and approval given under false pretences.  The public must remain vigilant for the sake of their own children.  If you do not participate in a democracy you are likely to lose it.  

So it is wise to SPEAK UP and LISTEN UP but always with respect.  As there are no enemies only differences. It is really about choosing what reflects you and what does not. It is a form of voting without a poll.


A parliamentary committee just savaged the Turnbull Government’s advocacy gag-law.1 After months of investigations, the committee has released a scathing report that rejects whole sections of the Bill. It’s a huge relief – and the committee wouldn’t have reached this point without the hard work of thousands of GetUp members like you. 

This crucial report shows we’ve made real progress towards defeating the gag-law, but the fight to defend our democratic rights is far from over. Because the gag-law is just one of three dangerous anti-democratic bills the Turnbull Government is trying to push through Parliament. 

These two other bills could send people to prison for protesting or exposing government crimes, and force just about anyone expressing a political opinion onto a sinister government register – controlled by Peter Dutton.2,3 

Right now, both these bills are also being scrutinised by a parliamentary committee – and as we’ve just seen, GetUp members can have a massive impact on the reports handed down. If we work together to make sure the reports on the other two bills are as scathing as the gag-law report, we’ll have a real chance of blocking this three-pronged assault on democracy. 

And the best place to start is with a massive petition, showing MPs and Senators that our people-powered movement is watching. 

Can you sign the petition calling on Parliament to defend our democracy by blocking these anti-democratic attacks? 


Any one of these three bills would be a disaster for democracy. Taken together, they’re the stuff of nightmares. 

Under one clause, whistleblowers would face life in prison for alerting the international community to Australian breaches of international law. 4Imagine the power that gives Peter Dutton to cover up the horrific abuse in offshore detention. 

Want to share a news article online? Forget it – if you’ve got any connections outside Australia (including family and friends), you’d be forced to join a government register of “foreign political agents”. The penalty for refusing to join? Up to seven years in prison.5 

If these attacks pass, the damage to our democracy could be irreversible – and the balance of power permanently shifted to favour Dutton and his ilk. 

Right now, we’ve a short window of opportunity to shape the critical recommendations that will come out of the Senate committee process. And we’ve just proved the massive impact GetUp members can have when we refuse to be silenced. 

Click here to add you name to the petition calling on Parliament to block Dutton’s dangerous power grab. 

These three bills would be the most dramatic change to our system of democracy in decades. But apart from canvassing the impact on charities and the media – they’ve hardly rated a mention in public debate. 

That’s because the Turnbull Government’s cleverly classed them as “national security” reforms. Exploiting “national security” to justify anti-democratic power grabs is the oldest trick in the authoritarian playbook, but so far, it’s worked. 

Because of course these bills aren’t about national security. They’re about job security – for Peter Dutton and other hard-right MPs hell-bent on silencing their critics and operating behind a veil of secrecy. 

We’re not going to let them get away with it, Susan. We’re going to call out this dangerous power-grab for what it is. We’re going to defend our democracy, and fight for our right to speak up when we disagree with the government. 

And we’re going to kick it all off with a massive petition that no-one will be able to ignore, bringing the voices and signatures of tens of thousands of everyday people right into Parliament House. 

This is the fight we simply can’t afford to lose. Will you stand with us? 

Exercise your democratic rights by adding your name to this petition – before it’s too late. 

Defending our democracy from this hard-right assault is the single most important challenge facing the GetUp movement. If these bills become law, it will set back progress on every single issue we care about. 

Our fights to stop Adani, force corporate tax cheats to contribute their fair share, and bring the people imprisoned in offshore detention here to safety would all suffer a devastating – and possibly irreversible – blow. Don’t sit this one out: Sign the petition today. 

Yours in hope, 

Paul – for the GetUp team 

PS – These three bills are deeply convoluted, with jargon and dense legislative mechanisms serving to disguise their nefarious intent. Summarising the full impacts in a single email would be impossible. Instead you can click here to read detailed information and analysis – and sign the petition! 


[1] Coalition told to rewrite foreign donations bill in unanimous report, The Guardian, 9 April 2017 
[2] The Turnbull government’s proposed espionage laws go too far, AFR, 7 February 2018 
[3] Ordinary citizen or foreign agent? Mundane activities fall under Coalition’s anti-interference laws, ABC News, 15 March 2018 
[4] National Security Legislation Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Bill 2017 
[5] Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Bill 2017.


Mohandas Gandhi

“Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”