Are you serious about wanting to help Australians, or is the Senate run a bid for your own freedom?
For me personally, it doesn’t make any difference legally. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, Australian senators have no immunity [in my situation] ... I would never run for any office to simply introduce another political party which just has platforms like any other political party ... What is the point of doing that?
Already, the platform I have with WikiLeaks is significantly greater than the platform I would have being an Australian senator. The idea is to change how the Senate operates, change how the processes of government operate ... shake things up as much as possible.
How do you intend to shake things up?
The Australian Senate is like the House of Lords here in the UK, except it has significantly more teeth. Its job is to scrutinise and expose the behaviour of government, hold it to account and check on its power ... it has to understand the complex mechanisms of governments and corporations – their lies, their deceits, their spin, their interconnections, their pressures – cut through all of that, through all the crap and say it like it is ...
Now the question is can we take that same understanding WikiLeaks has developed about big corporations, about foreign policy about how states and big corporations really behave and apply that to the Senate in Australia ... I think that is possible.
Is there much corruption in Australia?
Some of our people like to joke that we [WikiLeaks] only have one policy, and that’s ‘lights on, rats out’ – that is, to bring as much attention and exposure to what’s happening in Canberra as possible, and to drive out opportunistic or corrupt players. Canberra is a debauchery ... by taking Australia’s elected representatives who are meant to represent their electorates ... and putting them in isolation in Canberra together with the bureaucrats and the foreign embassies – that’s a toxic environment.
These people will go to cocktail parties and luncheons with the same people in the city, they’ll develop social and business relationships. In that little, isolated artificial city, they’re not involved in the local community, they’re not even going to lunch with the regular middle-sized business leaders, so even the type of corruption in Canberra is not an average type of corruption because we’ve moved the politicians away from the people.
What does that mean in practical terms?
Having the ability to use the Senate to break immoral gag orders on the Australian press; to deal with many cases of self-censorship, where the press is too scared to speak about the issue because the people being spoken about are very powerful; to introduce legislation which ensures there is proper, frequent communication on the internet which has become our central communications mechanism ...
Also use the Senate committee process as a process to cross-examine and interrogate various complex Australian bureaucratic structures.
How will your involvement with WikiLeaks help?
We’ve become experts of dealing with millions of documents on foreign policy and bureaucracy, people trying to cover them up, and people trying to apply pressure to us to stop it and defeating that pressure. So I see quite a strong connection with what we do as an organisation and what we expect to do as a political party in the Senate.
Have you had support from Aussie politicians?
The Australian Labor government took the most hostile reaction to WikiLeaks of any government in the world, including the US. The Australian Labor party has been so corrupted by its connections with the US government that it fell over backwards to demonstrate publicly that it was going to go in for me even harder than the US.
It pronounced a “whole of government investigation” – that’s what Julia Gillard called it – the Attorney General looked for ways to cancel my passport, the AG’s office was instructed by cabinet to find ways to see if I could be charged with treason, the Australian Federal police came back and said he’s committed no crime under Australian law.
The Australian press, fortunately, came into bat for me, and so the Australian population made its displeasure known with what was happening, so eventually there was a public fallback.
Do you really think you can win a Senate seat?
Yes. We will have to struggle to not win it based on polling. That said, there’s a lot of ways to lose. But [there are] now four or five polls showing that I have between 25-28 per cent of the vote over the past year or so. It’s remarkably consistent and the level of support by the Australian community is even higher, that’s in the 60-70 per cent range.
Why do you think support is so high?
I would like to believe it’s because I am an expression of Australian culture, and WikiLeaks has a disproportionate number of Australians involved not just because they’re friends of mine ... it’s something that resonates with Australians and the Australian culture. Australians don’t like wankery.
Another way of saying that is Australians don’t like lies. And we’re an organisation that exists to expose the most powerful lies. But I suspect there’s also a fair degree of sympathy with my personal situation, the abandonment by the Australian government of WikiLeaks as an Australian organisation that has been successful, [and] me, as a person. And Australians don’t want to see that precedent being set.