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Julian Hill MP to put crucial Motion for Julian Assange to the Australian Parliament this coming Monday 21 June - how you can help

Update, 16 June: (see comment) The House of Representatives Selection Committee has ruled that Julian Hill's motion cannot be put this coming Monday 21 June. That motion will now have to wait almost 7 weeks, until 9 August, in the next (joint - both Senate and House of Representatives) sitting of Parliament, before it can be put and debated!

New important initiative. Labor MP Julian Hill's private motion may finally force Australian parliamentarians to take sides for or against Julian Assange and lead to his being freed. Whether this motion is heard and debated depends on whether the House of Representatives Selection Committee allows it. We urge Australians to contact their local members and each other to get behind Mr Hill's motion, which calls for Assange to be set free from his illegal imprisonment, noting that he is the recipient of many awards for journalism, detained for political reasons through an abuse of power. If the motion is allowed through, then both sides of the house will be obliged to vote or abstain, and the Australian public will finally see what they are made of.

Earlier this afternoon at 2:03pm, I received, from Labor Member of Parliament, Julian Hill, a response to an e-mail I had sent him and a number of other MPs at around 1:00am earlier today. That email included a PDF file which is attached below. That PDF contains a motion that Julian Hill hopes to put to the House of Representatives, this coming Monday 21 June, in support of Julian Assange. The text of the proposed motion is also included within this article as an Appendix. Mr Hill has given that Notice of Motion to the House of Representatives Selection Committee. That motion, if allowed by the Selection Committee, will be put to the House this coming Monday 21 June. Essentially the motion calls upon the Australian Government to act to end the illegal imprisonment of Julian Assange, to get the United States' government to cease its attempts to extradite Julian Assange and for Julian Assange to be allowed to return to Australia.

Should the motion be put this coming Monday, then, at long last, more than two years since Julian Assange's arrest at the London Ecuadorian embassy, and more than nine years since June 2012, when Julian Assange was forced to seek asylum within the confined spaces of that Embassy, the issue of Julian Assange's arrest will be debated on the floors of the Parliament of Australia - the country of which Julian Assange is still a citizen.

However, the rules of Australia's Parliament have only allowed this motion to be put as a Private Member's Motion (PMM). This rule has restricted the actions of members of the "Bring Julian Assange Home" Parliamentary Support Group for some time. The rules also allow only 3 members each to speak for only 5 minutes for the motion and another 3 members to each speak for only 5 minutes against the motion.

Whilst this total of only 15 minutes speaking time for the motion is inadequate for its importance, those three five minute speeches for the motion will still be sufficient to clearly show to any listener with an open and critical mind that the Government's treatment of Julian Assange is unconscionable.

Then after the debate, each member of the House will have to either vote for the motion, vote against the motion, or abstain. This means that Labor and Liberal will have to show their hand. It is possible, however, that Liberal members will not be allowed the requisite vote of conscience. If that happens, the Government's attitude will become very clear. Votes either way or abstentions will be then permanently recorded in Hansard. Members voting against this motion are unlikely to be well regarded by decent, compassionate, and informed Australians. Those members who abstain will be regarded little better.

Whether or not the motion is carried by the Australian House of Representatives, just holding the debate, and holding to account the Australian government for its shameful abandonment of Julian Assange, could enormously boost the morale of those campaigning around the world to free Julian Assange. The written and video records of this debate will become very valuable resources for that campaign.

How you can help

It is still possible that the House of Representatives Selection Committee could refuse to allow Julian Hill's motion to be put, which would be an outrage.

To try to ensure that this Private Member's Motion (PMM) is put on Monday, Julian Assange's supporters in Australia should contact their local Member of Parliament to ask that member, firstly, to do what he/she is able, to ensure that that motion is put on Monday and, secondly, to vote for that motion. Where that member is unable to undertake to support that motion, he/she should be asked to at least undertake to listen to the debate and otherwise inform himself/herself about Julian Assange.

A full list of members of the Australian House of Representatives can be found here on the aph.gov.au web-site. A list of those members, who are also members of the "Bring Julian Assange Home" Parliamentary Support Group can be found here.

Please feel encouraged to post back to me (through Twitter, Facebook or comments to the foot of this article) any responses, supportive or otherwise, which you may receive from your local Member.

As well as contacting your MP, you could work for Julian Assange's freedom in other ways:

  • Post to Twitter or Facebook or other social media posts which link back to this article or which, otherwise put Julian Assange's case.
  • Write articles or post comments in support of Julian Assange to your own blog site or to other blog sites. Link from there to other resources in support of Julian Assange.
  • Phone talk-back radio to put the case Julian Assange.
  • Attend protests for Julian Assange, such as, for example, our weekly vigil for Julian Assange, which commences at 6:30pm each Friday evening outside Melbourne's Flinders Street Station. Consider publicly speaking, yourself, in support of Julian Assange at those protests.
  • Make banners and placards in support of Julian Assange to take to these protests.
  • Distribute leaflets for Julian Assange such as this double-sided A5 leaflet (210K PDF), which has been adapted to become the article (11/2/21).
  • If you live in the United States, see if you can get in touch with Julian Assange's father John Shipton or his brother Gabriel Shipton. They are currently in Philadelphia, in a tour of the United States to promote the cause of Julian Assange. They are receiving hugely favourably responses.

Appendix: Notice of Motion by Julian Hill MP

MEMBER FOR CLARKE: I give notice that on the next day of sitting (Monday 21/6/21 - JS) I shall move that this House:

(1) notes that:

(a) the trial and extradition of Mr Julian Assange are inconsistent with international law, and Australian legal standards, and contravene the legal rights and protections for which those laws and standards provide;

(b) the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment has found that Mr Assange 'showed all symptoms typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture, including extreme stress, chronic anxiety and intense psychological trauma';

(c) several medical reports find that Mr Assange is in ill-health due to prolonged arbitrary confinement, and indeed the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled that the 50-week sentence of Mr Assange for bail violation, which formally ended on 21 September 2019, was punitive and disproportionate given the nature of the offence and the usual sentence;

(d) Mr Assange is facing extradition for an alleged political offence, which is expressly prohibited by Article 4(1) of the Anglo-US Extradition Treaty and an abuse of power; and

(e) Mr Assange is an Australian citizen and, if convicted in the US, faces 175 years in prison, which would be in effect a death sentence;

(2) acknowledges that Mr Assange is a publisher and journalist, as recognised by his 2011 Walkley award and 17 other awards for excellence in journalism and promoting human rights, and that his charges:

(a) are a direct assault on press freedom; and

(b) threaten the protection of others who publish classified information in the public interest; and

(3) calls for Mr Assange to be allowed to return to Australia.

The PDF file of the proposed motion, immediately above, is attached below.

AttachmentSize
Image icon julianHill_15jun21.jpg32.04 KB
PDF icon 200303SignedAssangeMotion.pdf56.78 KB

Comments

Below is some of the correspondence between myself and Julian Hill MP, who advised me yesterday, on 15 June (this was first mistakenly written as '15 March' - apologies, JS 21 June), that he had put a notice of motion that is included in the above article. The text of the e-mail was:

Hi James

I have given notice of the motion below.

Have asked for some debate time - will see if we can get any allocated.

Julian

I then published the above e-mail and e-mailed Julian Hill, thanking him for his efforts and I also made posts to Twitter to advise other supporters of Julian Assange of this very welcome development. However, earlier today, at 1:02 PM on Wednesday 16 June, he e-mailed me, advising me:

... neither [Andrew Wilklie's proposed motion nor my proposed motion] were selected for debate this Monday but that’s common as there is usually a lot of stuff from earlier weeks, so I’d expect we will get some debate time in the next sitting in August.

My response to Julian Hill was:

… I will not be the only person who will feel badly disappointed by this news.

Monday 9 August [the first sitting day on which it will be possible to move a Private Members' Motion] is nearly seven weeks away!

Which other Private Members' Motions does the Selection Committee think could possibly be more important and more urgent than yours? In all of that coming seven weeks, Julian Assange, who is in poor health, will remain locked up in solitary confinement for 23 hours per day. This further delay in action to bring about Julian Assange's freedom could well result in his death or severe detriment to his health.

Can you explain to me more about the process of selection? Is there any way it can be speeded up? Can you give me the names of those who are on the Selection Committee?

Julian Hill has not yet responded.

I posted this bad news to Twitter:

What can be done about this?

That (by my count) 24 supporters of Julian Assange in this country's Federal Parliament cannot be an effective voice for the illegally imprisoned Australian citizen Julian Assange on the floors of our Parliament should be considered unacceptable. Other means to hold the Federal Government to account for its unconscionable conduct, whether inside or outside of Parliament, will have to be found.

As well as members of the Group, members of the major parties should also be approached by their local constituents. It should be put to each of those MPs:

Regardless of whether or not you support Julian Assange, do you find it acceptable that supporters of Julian Assange in our Parliament have been prevented from being able to comprehensively put their case to Parliament and from being able to debate it in Parliament?"

If that member agrees with you that this is not acceptable, ask that member to move a formal motion to suspend standing orders so that, without any further delay, Julian Hill be allowed to put his foreshadowed motion (included above) and that Andrew Wilkie also be allowed put his own foreshadowed motion.

Should youfind the time and energy to approach your local member as I have suggested, please advise me of how he/she responds, whether that response is favourable or unfavourable.