There’s no doubt Julian Assange embodies many of the qualities people look for in a leader. A commitment to government transparency and exposing corruption. Bravery. Vision. Intelligence. All ticks for the WikiLeaks founder. This goes a long way towards explaining why, according to a new poll, 26 per cent of Australians said they would vote for him to enter the senate in the next election. 

But Assange also comes with a whole heap of baggage that no one in their right mind would imagine compatible with a high-level position in politics. To name a few: unresolved rape charges (which he denies); a notorious ability to piss off even the staunchest of his allies; appalling relations with most of the rest of the Australian government. Oh, and the small matter of him facing arrest the second he steps outside the small building he’s been holed up in for almost a year. So, um, not actually in a position to take the job. Problematic, no?  

Assange has not left Ecuador’s embassy in London since last June, and he must remain there if he wants to avoid extradition to Sweden to answer allegations over sexual assault. His absence in Australian parliament would mean his seat would have to be declared vacant, meaning someone else, yet unnamed, from his party would have to take it. 

So what do this 26 per cent mean when they say they’d vote for him? They’re not fussed about who would take the seat? That they don’t really know enough about his circumstances to realise he’s almost certainly unable to do the job? It’s baffling, and that’s before you even consider those who’ve worked closely with Assange say he displays alarming attitudes towards his own accountability. He “sees the world as being ‘with us or against us’” according to socialite Jemima Khan (who lost £20,000 when Assange jumped bail) and is intent on “silencing dissent” says Guardian journo and ex-colleague James Ball.

He may have done admirable work with WikiLeaks, but a vote for him as senator is a reckless and inappropriate way of showing support for his ideals. 

» Agree or disagree? Would you vote for Assange?


Kiwi cartoonist defends racism by being racist 

The cartoonist accused of being racist has hit back at critics, with a defence that shows he hasn’t even begun to even grasp the concept.

Al Nisbet’s cartoons, published in New Zealand’s Marlborough Express, showed a dark-skinned family, assumed to be Maori or Pasifika, talking about how the free breakfast programme would help them ease their poverty, while sitting by lottery tickets, cigarettes and empty beer cans.

Critics naturally slammed the cartoons for their blatant racial stereotyping. Nisbet’s bizarre comeback was simply to describe his ‘thinking’ process. He said: “I just see it as humour and a bit of a joke. I basically just tried to work out … the sort of people who would try to get away with something like that …“

…and decided it would be Maoris or Pasifikas. That’s precisely what people are criticising you for, moron.


Photo: Getty