Greg Barns to campaign for Wikileaks

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Former chair of the Australian Republican Movement and leading barrister Greg Barns is to spearhead Wikileaks' bid for an Australian Senate seat. Senior correspondent Barry Everingham comments.

Joining forces: Greg Barns and Julian Assange.
Joining forces: Greg Barns and Julian Assange.

My distinguished friend and colleague Greg Barns certainly pops up in extraordinary places — many of which must cause some of his former political mates some anguish.

Before we look at what he’s up to right now, let me refresh some memories.

Greg, along with Malcolm Turnbull (why the Libs dumped him for the likes of Tony Abbott remains one of politics great mysteries) masterminded the blueprint for the 1999 referendum, which was to secure our country total independence from Great Britain and, at last, give us our home grown head of state to replace the present, and then incumbent, ethnic German, non-resident, unelected Queen of England.

Barns and Turnbull didn’t reckon on the deviousness and sleight-of-hand tactics of one John Winston Howard, the then prime minister, who – although in the total thrall of the United States president – was also a monarchist in the mould of the late Sir Robert Menzies.

Howard hijacked the referendum and, of course, the rest is history...

For his trouble, Howard was awarded an order of merit from his London-based patroness for work well done.

Barns went on to the bar, Howard remained in office and his cringing obeisance to the intellectually challenged George W. Bush made most Australians wince.

Now in all fairness to Howard (did I really write that?) he isn’t the only contemporary prime minister to cave in to the Americans or to go over the top to please the foreign monarch.

Julia Gillard has mysteriously gone along with Washington’s edict that our local, home grown hero, Julian Assange, is to be pilloried, hung out to dry, ashamed and abandoned because of the revelations which came to light following the release of his now famous Wikileaks.

The United States didn’t fare very well at all when the startling contents were published, not only in Australia, but in most countries where the press remains free.

It is a great shame indeed that we are not privy to the cables that must have flowed between Washington and Canberra on this sad, sad, situation.

Assange is now resident in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, which like all diplomatic  enclaves, is “extra-territorial” — meaning Julian is safe from U.S. hands and those of Sweden’s, who are seeking his extradition on what seems, on the surface, to be trumped-up allegations of a sexual nature.

But what has all this got to do with Greg Barns?

Well, a lot actually.

Julian Assange has decided to seek a place in the Australian Senate in the forthcoming election.

Mr Barns has been appointed national campaign director for Assange and the new Wikileaks Party, which will be launched later this week.

Says Barns: Assange is serious — this in no stunt.

He said the new Party will be campaigning on freedom of speech, human rights, and government transparency and privacy issues.

Greg Barns said the party will offer a refreshing change from the Australian Government culture of secrecy, whether Labor or Liberal.

He said the WikiLeaks Party is recruiting members to achieve the membership of at least 500 enrolled electors required for Australian Electoral Commission registration.

So far, there has been an encouraging response.

What Julia Gillard has to say remains to be seen.

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