Assange the senator would champion free media
March 27, 2012
Julian Assange … admires Don Chipp and Malcolm Fraser. Photo: AP
THE WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, would be a "fierce defender of free media'' and would use parliamentary privilege to break court suppression orders and other "excessive constraints" on free access to information if he was successful in his bid for a Senate seat.
In his first interview since declaring his intention to stand for the Senate at the next election, Mr Assange said he planned to be a defender of liberty and ''the right of citizens … to live lives free from state interference''.
He said he "could be described as a libertarian" and nominated the Australian Democrats founder, Don Chipp, and the former prime minister Malcolm Fraser as political figures he admired.
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Mr Assange said his priority was to campaign for more openness in government, what he termed "the politics of understanding before acting".
There were "many things wrong" with Australian politics, especially "increasing levels of cronyism" and "the betrayal of the rights and interests of people … by political insiders, operating in their own interests".
Last week WikiLeaks announced via Twitter: "We have discovered that it is possible for Julian Assange to run for the Australian Senate while detained. Julian has decided to run.''
Mr Assange told the Herald that attacks on WikiLeaks by the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, in particular labelling its actions "illegal", contrary to advice from the federal police, directly contributed to his decision to embark on a Senate campaign.
Mr Assange has been under house arrest in Britain while awaiting a British Supreme Court decision on his appeal against extradition to Sweden to be questioned in relation to sexual assault allegations.
Mr Assange, who has not been charged with any offence in Sweden, fears extradition to Stockholm will open the way for his extradition to the US on possible espionage or conspiracy charges in retaliation for WikiLeaks's publication of thousands of leaked US classified military and diplomatic reports.
Mr Assange was sharply critical of the federal government and the opposition, saying there was "very little difference between Liberal and Labor, especially once they get into government. Labor suffers more from cronyism, while the Liberals care more for big business".
Mr Assange has not yet decided in which state to stand but said he had several options, having lived in Victoria, NSW and Queensland.