|Headquarters||Sydney, New South Wales, Australia|
Founded by Jeremy Heimans, David Madden, and Amanda Tattersall , the GetUp.org.au website was launched on 1 August 2005 along with a television advertising campaign. GetUp's initial campaign aimed to help voters to "keep the Howard Government accountable" after it won a majority of seats in the Australian Senate on 9 August 2005, following the Australian federal election, 2004. GetUp! encouraged visitors to send an email to Coalition senators that read "I'm sending you this message because I want you to know that I'm watching. Now that you have absolute power in the Senate, it is only people like me who can hold you accountable. And we will."
In March 2011, Getup! endorsed the controversial decision of the Gillard Labor Government to break its 2010 Election promise not to introduce a carbon tax as a means of addressing Australia's contribution to carbon emissions.
Simon Sheikh was the National Director of GetUp! from September 2008 (at the age of 22) to July 2012.
Paul Oosting is the current GetUp! National Director.
GetUp is a non-profit organisation, registered as GetUp Ltd. In the vein of MoveOn.org, much of the organisation's funding comes in the form of small contributions made through its website. Under Australia's taxation regime, donations to GetUp are not considered tax-deductible as the organisation advocates for changes to government policy.
While GetUp's primary methodology to date has been to encourage its membership to email or call their elected representatives, the organisation has also employed a range of campaigning techniques, such as taking out advertisements in major daily newspapers, holding local events, running television commercials, and hiring a skywriter to write "Vote No to Asylum Bill" above Australia's Parliament House in Canberra. According to the Sydney Morning Herald the organisation generates a lot of standardised form letters that may be characterised as spam. GetUp! says it encourages users to write personal, hand-crafted letters.
In 2007 the Australian Electoral Commission warned GetUp! that it felt its how-to-vote website was "misleading and deceptive", because it always recommended against voting for Coalition candidates, since the Coalition did not provide information to GetUp for inclusion in the online tool.
In 2011, GetUp! campaigned to create a permanent Climate Natural Disaster Fund funded by reduction of fossil fuel subsidies and released a video supporting same-sex marriage starring Julian Shaw entitled It's Time that was described by The Advocate as "possibly the most beautiful ad for marriage equality we've seen."
In 2012 GetUp! campaigned with Australian Marriage Equality for same-sex marriage by sending 3,000 roses to federal politicians on Valentines Day and by hosting a dinner for three same-sex couples with the Prime Minister. GetUp! also had a Marriage Matters float in the Sydney Mardi Gras. In Queensland, GetUp! commissioned a response to a controversial anti-gay marriage advertisement. In response to Catholic bishops in Victoria asking their parishioners to campaign against same sex marriages, Simon Sheikh of GetUp! said, "every time they act, they only entice our members to do even more". In May 2012, "GetUp slams PM Gillard" for not following the lead of President Obama on marriage equity. In June 2012, at events in Sydney and Melbourne, GetUp! joined with Marie Claire and Sunrise to show support for marriage equality and "everybody's right to say 'I Do'".
During a campaign in 2012 considerable criticism of GetUp! was generated after they claimed the timber used in the furniture sold by Australian retailer, Harvey Norman contributes to the destruction of Australia's native forests. In response, the Furniture Industry Association of Australia said that, "Get Up! are effectively campaigning for rainforest destruction in other countries instead of sustainably harvested Australian timber". David Penberthy writing in The Punch says, "there have been a lot of dumb campaigns launched over the years but this one is hands down the stupidest thing I have ever seen." The Minister for Manufacturing, Kim Carr has said, "the GetUp! 'No Harvey No' campaign runs the risk of deterring people from buying Australian-made furniture and supporting Australian jobs".
In August 2015, emergency services were called to the office of Craig Laundy MP, a federal Liberal party member who blocked a free vote on same-sex marriage. Mr. Laundy was one of a number of MPs who received an envelope containing glitter from the organization, as a protest to the dissents. Laundy later called it a "stupid stunt".
During the 2016 federal election GetUp! ran a successful campaign targeting the Coalition's more conservative MPs. Part of the campaign involved volunteers calling voters in marginal electorates. 45,000 conversations were had with 18,000 of these being with voters in Bass which was the seat of Andrew Nikolic who was not reelected. Other targeted MPs included Peter Dutton, George Christensen and Louise Markus.
In November 2016 in a submission to a parliamentary inquiry, GetUp! lobbied for information on all political donations over $500 to be made publicly available and also advocated for a ban on foreign donations to Australian political parties. However, during the inquiry it was determined GetUp! had accepted more than $300,000 in foreign donations over the past two years.
In August 2017, a campaign was started on GetUp!'s community campaign platform - CommunityRun - calling on the Australian Medical Association to deregister Dr Pansy Lai, following her appearance in the TV ad for the "No" case for the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey. GetUp! received dozens of complaints and the petition, and it was taken down after being found to breach CommunityRun's terms and conditions.
A 2015 survey of GetUp! members showed they wanted the organisation to focus on refugees, fossil fuels and climate change, and coal developments near the Great Barrier Reef. In the survey, members ranked same-sex marriage as 16th priority.
Criticism of GetUp!'s campaigns
Eric Abetz, a Liberal Party senator, has claimed that GetUp! is a front group for the Labor Party, and that it is funded by the billionaire George Soros. Following a referral from Senator Abetz in 2005, (and again in 2010) the Australian Electoral Commission examined whether GetUp! operates "wholly, or to a significant extent, for the benefit of one or more registered political parties;" on both occasions it found that GetUp! did "not appear to be controlled by one or more registered political parties, nor ... to operate wholly or to a significant extent to the benefit of one or more registered political parties.
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