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Getup logo-7878b5baf632a35e83f40954d51b141e 2.svg
GetUp! Logo
Formation2005; 13 years ago (2005)
HeadquartersSydney, New South Wales, Australia

GetUp! is an Australian left-wing lobby group.[1] It was launched in August 2005. Its funding came from individuals, organisations, community groups, and trade unions.


Founded by Jeremy Heimans, David Madden, and Amanda Tattersall [2], the 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.[3] 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."[4]

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.[5]

Simon Sheikh was the National Director of GetUp! from September 2008 (at the age of 22) to July 2012.

Sam McLean was the National Director of GetUp! from July 2012 (at the age of 24) to July 2015.[6]

Paul Oosting is the current GetUp! National Director.


GetUp is a non-profit organisation,[7] registered as GetUp Ltd.[8] In the vein of, much of the organisation's funding comes in the form of small contributions made through its website.[9] Under Australia's taxation regime, donations to GetUp are not considered tax-deductible as the organisation advocates for changes to government policy.[10]


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,[11] running television commercials, and hiring a skywriter to write "Vote No to Asylum Bill" above Australia's Parliament House in Canberra.[12] 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.[13]


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.[14]

In 2010, GetUp! placed full page ads in The New York Times and The Washington Times in support of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and condemning calls for violence against him.[15]

In 2011, GetUp! campaigned to create a permanent Climate Natural Disaster Fund funded by reduction of fossil fuel subsidies[16] 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."[17]

In 2012 GetUp! campaigned with Australian Marriage Equality for same-sex marriage by sending 3,000 roses to federal politicians on Valentines Day[18] and by hosting a dinner for three same-sex couples with the Prime Minister.[19] GetUp! also had a Marriage Matters float in the Sydney Mardi Gras.[20] In Queensland, GetUp! commissioned a response to a controversial anti-gay marriage advertisement.[21] 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".[22] In May 2012, "GetUp slams PM Gillard" for not following the lead of President Obama on marriage equity.[23] 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'".[24]

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".[25] 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."[26] 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".[25]

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".[27]

In October 2015, GetUp! unreservedly apologised to US Rapper Chris Brown for their visa-denial campaign after GetUp! said their campaign, "played into a harmful, racist narrative".[28]

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.[29] However, during the inquiry it was determined GetUp! had accepted more than $300,000 in foreign donations over the past two years.[30]

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,[31] following her appearance in the TV ad for the "No" case for the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey.[32][33][34][35] GetUp! received dozens of complaints and the petition, and it was taken down after being found to breach CommunityRun's terms and conditions.[36]

Prioritising campaigns[edit]

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.[6] In the survey, members ranked same-sex marriage as 16th priority.[37]

Criticism of GetUp!'s campaigns[edit]

Eric Abetz, a Liberal Party senator, has claimed that GetUp! is a front group for the Labor Party,[38] and that it is funded by the billionaire George Soros.[39] Following a referral from Senator Abetz in 2005,[40] (and again in 2010)[41] 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.[41]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Vromen, Ariadne. "New style lobbying: how GetUp! channels Australians' voices into politics". The Conversation. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  2. ^ Dubecki, Larissa (24 February 2007). "The mouse-click that roared". The Age. Archived from the original on 6 September 2017. Retrieved 13 July 2010.
  3. ^ "Howard wins control of Senate". The Age. Melbourne. 28 October 2004. Archived from the original on 6 September 2017.
  4. ^ Crook, Andrew (4 February 2009). "GetUp and its strange but well-heeled bedfellows". Crikey. Archived from the original on 8 August 2017. Retrieved 13 July 2010.
  5. ^ Massola, James (8 March 2011). "Climate change campaigners back PM amid Newspoll disaster". The Australian.
  6. ^ a b Cox, Lisa (11 July 2015). "GetUp! national director Sam McLean quits". Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 31 May 2017. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  7. ^ "FAQ". GetUp!. Archived from the original on 23 February 2010. Retrieved 13 July 2010.
  8. ^ "ABN Lookup". Australian Government. Archived from the original on 4 February 2018. Retrieved 3 Feb 2018.
  9. ^ "About Us". GetUp! Action for Australia. Retrieved 2018-03-08.
  10. ^ BEN PACKHAM (22 October 2012). "Former GetUp director Simon Sheikh tilts at senate seat for Greens". The Australian. Archived from the original on 23 October 2012. Retrieved 2 November 2012.
  11. ^ "Hicks may face two-year delay: Mori". The Sydney Morning Herald. 23 August 2006. Archived from the original on 18 October 2012. Retrieved 25 November 2011.
  12. ^ Kirk, Alexandra (14 August 2006). "Howard faces defeat on Migration Bill". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 16 January 2010. Retrieved 25 November 2011.
  13. ^ Peatling, Stephanie (6 August 2005). "You've seen the future and it (a) works, (b) is just a load of spam". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 18 August 2007. Retrieved 26 January 2007.
  14. ^ Schneiders, Ben (25 February 2011). "GetUp! warned on how-to-vote site". The Age Melbourne. Archived from the original on 3 March 2011.
  15. ^ "GetUp gets behind Assange". 9 December 2010. Archived from the original on 12 December 2010. Retrieved 15 December 2010.
  16. ^ "Safeguard our future". Archived from the original on 9 March 2011. Retrieved 31 January 2011.
  17. ^ Grinley, Lucas (25 November 2011). "Possibly the Most Beautiful Ad for Marriage Equality We've Seen". The Advocate. Archived from the original on 31 July 2012. Retrieved 27 November 2011.
  18. ^ "Gays send pollies Valentine's Day roses". Herald Sun. 14 February 2012. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  19. ^ Kerr, Christian (22 February 2012). "Same-sex advocates hope dinner date can sway Gillard on marriage". The Australian. Archived from the original on 22 February 2012. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  20. ^ "Every float, every group – Mardi Gras Parade 2012 revealed". Same Same. 25 February 2012. Archived from the original on 15 July 2012. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  21. ^ "Brother hits back a 'homophobic' ad". Star Observer. 14 March 2012. Archived from the original on 16 March 2012. Retrieved 14 March 2012.
  22. ^ "Gay marriage advocates attack Catholic campaign". ABC - Lateline. 30 March 2012. Archived from the original on 27 December 2012. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  23. ^ "Obama 'can't change biological truth'". SBS. 10 May 2012. Archived from the original on 10 May 2012. Retrieved 12 May 2012.
  24. ^ "Celebrate your right to say 'I do'". 31 May 2012. Archived from the original on 5 June 2012. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
  25. ^ a b Ferguson, John (9 February 2012), Kim Carr hammers GetUp! ad campaign, AAP, retrieved 12 February 2012[permanent dead link]
  26. ^ Penberthy, David (12 February 2012), A campaign without a leg to stand on, The Punch, retrieved 12 February 2012
  27. ^ Cox, Lisa (18 August 2015). "Six fire trucks, six police cars and one hazmat unit investigate glitter envelope sent to Liberal Craig Laundry". Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 20 August 2015.
  28. ^ Piotrowskif, Daniel (1 October 2015). "GetUp! group that led campaign to ban Chris Brown from Australia now APOLOGISES to singer for 'supporting racist narrative that black men are more violent'". Daily Mail. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
  29. ^ Murphy, Katharine (1 November 2016). "GetUp calls for real-time disclosure of political donations above $500". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 12 March 2017. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
  30. ^ Overington, Caroline (21 November 2016). "Activist group GetUp! seeks ban on foreign gifts 'for others'". The Australian. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
  31. ^ "Review the registration of Dr Pansy Lai | CommunityRun". Retrieved 2017-09-07.
  32. ^ Shanahan, Dennis (4 September 2017). "GetUp!-backed petition seeks to deregister doctor from No-case ad". The Australian. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  33. ^ "Petition calls for doctor in 'no' campaign same-sex marriage ad to be deregistered". Yahoo News. 4 September 2017. Archived from the original on 8 October 2017. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  34. ^ "Petition launched against doctor in 'No' ad". Sky News. 4 September 2017. Archived from the original on 4 September 2017. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  35. ^ Morgan, Riley. "Same-sex marriage: Petition launched to deregister doctor who appeared in No campaign ad". News. Retrieved 2017-09-03.
  36. ^ Mayers (4 September 2017). "Same-sex marriage survey: Petition to deregister Pansy Lai, doctor in No campaign ad, taken down". ABC News (Australia). Archived from the original on 10 November 2017. Retrieved 6 September 2017.
  37. ^ "Our top campaign issues". 2015. Archived from the original on 22 July 2015. Retrieved 2 October 2015.
  38. ^ "GetUp considered campaigning for Labor". SBS. 29 September 2010. Archived from the original on 5 September 2017. Retrieved 5 September 2017.
  39. ^ Fleur Anderson; et al. (1 February 2017). "Foreign donors should keep out of Australian politics: Malcolm Turnbull". Financial Review. Archived from the original on 16 January 2018. Retrieved 5 September 2017.
  40. ^ "GetUp and Bennelong Institute". Australian Electoral Commission. Archived from the original on 22 April 2017. Retrieved 7 September 2017.
  41. ^ a b "GetUp Limited". Australian Electoral Commission. Archived from the original on 2 February 2018. Retrieved 7 September 2017.

External links[edit]