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Cannold quits, Wikileaks haemorrhages

By Evelyn Tsitas - posted Thursday, 22 August 2013

Leslie Cannold is determined to keep the bastards honest - those within the WikiLeaks Party, at least. She has resigned as Julian Assange's number two running mate for the Senate, saying that the party's preference problems were "the final straw". This indicates there were other deep divisions.

For a new political party with transparency at its core, the fact that mainstream media had a breaking news story about Cannold quitting on 21 August many hours before any such news was released on the WikiLeaks Party's official website, Facebook page or Twitter account is strange.

Or – perhaps not. For as Mark Colvin so succinctly noted in his interview with Cannold on ABC News PM "this degree of division must now put paid, mustn't it, to any chance that the WikiLeaks Party had of getting a Senate candidate up?"


News of Cannold's decision was carried within hours by the Sydney Morning Herald, Brisbane Times, ABC Online, The Australian, the Herald Sun, SBS , and The Guardian.

But not, officially, by the WikiLeaks Party. The same party, no less, whose Senate candidates jointly issued a statement on 10 August about how the Daily Telegraph's Election coverage undermines Australian Democracy; "when such blatant political positioning is combined with the pitiful facts of the extreme concentration of ownership in the Australian media, we have to be concerned for the health of Australian democracy."

That is the type of statement that may come back to haunt a party less than eager to air its dirty washing in transparent view of everyone. Indeed, on the WikiLeaks Party website, there is a repost and comments of a 2010 talk Julian Assange did with Director of TED Talk Chris Anderson. Assange said, "Can it possibly be true, it's a worry isn't it, that the rest of the world media is doing such a bad job that a little group of activists is able to release more of that type of information than the rest of the world press combined."

Perhaps those who live by these words should be prepared to stick by them during the election. Is it too much to expect an immediate response from the WikiLeaks Party about Cannold's resignation? Or from Assange about his second running mate's sudden exit?

As it now stands, the infighting and deep divisions within the Party of Transparency are making the Greens seem for many the only reliable option if one is deeply disgusted with both the Labor and Liberals stance on refugees.

As reported in The Guardian, Cannold resigned amid a storm over the party's preferences, which favoured rightwing extremists ahead of the Greens.


While a statement was put out by the WikiLeaks Party about an "administrative error" in NSW,

Cannold said inher own statement: "To keep being a candidate feels like I'm breaking faith with the Australian people, and those in the media who assist me to communicate with the public, many of whom I've had a long and respectful professional relationship with.

"This is because by being in this role I am implicitly making a statement that The Wikileaks Party is what it claims to be: a democratically run party that both believes in transparency and accountability, and operates in this way."

Several hours after her resignation, Cannold told ABC news chief political correspondent Emma Griffiths that she disputes the party's claim that 'administrative errors' were to blame for the NSW decision to give its first preferences to far-right wing candidates and parties in New South Wales, including the Australia First Party which is headed by a convicted criminal and former neo-Nazi.

Support for Cannold came swiftly from respected journalist Mary Kostakidis, who tweeted: "Whoever is responsible for the stuff up should be resigning Leslie, not you."

While the Wikileaks Party prides itself on the use of social media to galvanize supporters, there was troll glee in the Twittersphere about the unraveling of the party that likes to take the high moral ground against the others.

The bottom line, however, is that The WikiLeaks Party is hemorrhaging members; several National Council members and volunteers announced their resignation soon after Cannold. In detailing his reasons for resigning from the National Council of the Wikileaks Party, Dr Daniel Mathews blogged: "I know thousands rushed to join a party they thought they could believe in, and millions around the world have been inspired and have taken courage because of the actions of Wikileaks and Julian Assange.

"I can only apologise to them for not having worked harder to defend the principles of the party; but I know that, had I stayed on, it would have been an increasingly losing battle."

The WikiLeaks faithful who remain now have to wait for theparty's supplementary how-to-vote card to its supporters to override the lodged preferences.

Cannold's decision to quit the WikiLeaks Party came the very day many people received their postal vote. Those like me, who applied the night the election was announced knowing they would be out of the country on election day, would be within the first batch of people receiving a postal vote. There is Cannold's name, down as number two for the party's Senate ticket.

In response to the question "why should someone vote for wikileaks?" Cannold tweeted on 16 August: "We stand for transparency, accountability & justice & will keep the bastards accountable. Five days later, she resigned from the party.

It proves a week is a long time in politics. So, it would seem, is the endurance of the WikiLeaks Party.

Indeed, maybe the choice of party motto – a recycled one at that – was not so wise in hindsight. As third on the WikiLeaks Victorian Senate ticket Dr Binoy Kampmark noted in his blog about the launch of the WikiLeaks Party; "Keep the bastards honest. This was a fine statement till the Democrats, the party he founded, got into bed with establishment politics and promptly imploded. The spirit of Chipp's message, however, remains indomitable."

The question is, will the Wikileaks Party be able to carry Chipp's flame and be a viable option for this election, much less the next one? Or will traditional media and the two major parties have the last laugh?

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About the Author

Dr Evelyn Tsitas works at RMIT University and has an extensive background in journalism (10 years at the Herald Sun) and communications. As well as crime fiction and horror, she writes about media, popular culture, parenting and Gothic horror and the arts and society in general. She likes to take her academic research to the mass media and to provoke debate.

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