Party revolt growing over Prime Minister Julia Gillard's WikiLeaks stance
- From: The Australian
- December 14, 2010
- More Labor MPs supporting WikiLeaks work
- MPs support freedom of speech, Assange
- "Government misread the public's mood"
JULIA Gillard is confronting a growing backlash within her own party, with more Labor MPs yesterday attacking the Prime Minister's language and declaring their support for WikiLeaks's founder Julian Assange and free speech.
Ms Gillard said the latest WikiLeaks information dump was based on an illegal act, but Canberra has since insisted that was a reference to the original theft of the material by a junior US serviceman rather than any action by Mr Assange.
However, Labor Left MP Maria Vamvakinou from Melbourne yesterday told The Australian the government had read the public mood wrongly on the issue and said she supported the release of the classified material.
"The leaked material, I believe, the public should know about and have the right to know about this information. I believe that very strongly," she said. "If you believe in freedom of speech, you can't pick and choose.
"I can't understand the comments that have been made by the members of the government. They are unwarranted."
The ALP's parliamentary Left national convenor Doug Cameron said he believed in freedom of the press and the right to publish material without Mr Assange being depicted as a traitor.
"The guy is entitled to a presumption of innocence. He is entitled to consular support and these argument . . . that he is some kind of traitor, I think has to be in the context that it (WikiLeaks) is operating like any other media outlet," Senator Cameron said.
"It really is about the problems the Americans have in terms of their security systems."
West Australian Labor senator Louise Pratt said she wanted Mr Assange to get full consular assistance and said he should not be prejudged. "I hope that he doesn't turn into the next David Hicks for the government."
Following suggestions by Ms Gillard and Attorney-General Robert McClelland that Mr Assange may have his Australian passport cancelled, Kevin Rudd told The Australian in Cairo that any such decision was his as Foreign Minister.
The government has asked the federal police to probe whether Mr Assange had broken the law, a process Mr McClelland said could take a long time.
The Coalition's foreign spokeswoman Julie Bishop yesterday accused the Gillard government of being thrown into disarray by Ms Gillard's response to WikiLeaks.
Mr Rudd has consistently taken a different line to Ms Gillard and Mr McClelland.
Read more about party revolt at Gillard's Wiki stance at The Australian.