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Party revolt growing over Prime Minister Julia Gillard's WikiLeaks stance

Julia Gillard

Prime Minister Julia Gillard faces a growing backlash as more Labor MPs speak out in support of jailed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Picture: Kym Smith Source: The Daily Telegraph


MPs have said Assange's work is crucial to free speech / AFP Source: AFP

  • 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.

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  • Noel Posted at 11:47 AM December 14, 2010

    Looks like the Government and Coalition have been exposed as the weak little mice they are. Not a leader amongst them.

  • Moggy Posted at 11:46 AM December 14, 2010

    You can bet your bottom dollar that at this very minute Gillard is organising a focus group!!

  • Christian of Brisbane Posted at 11:46 AM December 14, 2010

    I like it how the representatives of the population "misread" the views and moods of Australians regarding this. Just goes to show how out of touch they are and too worried about their own hides. Assange is an advocate of free speech and freedom of information. We are so caught up in secrecy and not knowing what's going on that when the veil is lifted, the population have no idea what to do. What he is doing is at the essence of what democracy is. He is changing the world from a cesspool of lies to uncovering the truth and showing the real facts on what's going on - which is NOT what we are told. Those a two totally different things. If you believe in free speech, you have no choice but to support this cause. Freedom comes with a price, and unfortunately our soldiers and Assange are fighting for the same thing. If you want to go back and hide in your secure houses only believing what you're told and not seeing the real picture, then you're part of the problem.

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