GetUp! is an Australian political organisation that aims to hold politicians accountable on important issues. GetUp was launched in August 2005, the week that the Coalition took control of the Australian Senate.

GetUp campaigns are based largely around email and its website, however the organisation also uses broadcast and print media to get its message across. GetUp is focussed on community based campaigning.

GetUp activities are primarily coordinated through the internet. GetUp is a not-for-profit organisation and receives no money from any political party or the government, relying solely on funds and in-kind donations from the Australian public.

GetUp describes itself as "a new independent political movement to build a progressive Australia. GetUp brings together like-minded people who want to bring participation back into our democracy." GetUp identifies campaigns based on the interests and input of its members, including social justice, economic and environmental issues. GetUp favours issues of national importance.


Founded by Jeremy Heimans and David Madden, the website was launched on August 1, 2005 along with a television advertising campaign. Inspired by the American website, GetUp's initial campaign aimed to help voters to keep the Howard Government accountable as it took control of the Australian Senate on August 9, 2005 with an absolute majority of seats. This was the first time an Australian government had controlled both Houses of Parliament since 1981.

The site encouraged visitors to send an email to Coalition senators that read "I’m sending you this message because I want you to know that I’m watching. Now that you have absolute power in the Senate, it is only people like me who can hold you accountable. And we will."


While GetUp’s primary methodology to date has been to encourage its membership to email or call their elected representatives, the organisation has also employed a range of campaigning techniques, such as taking out advertisements in major daily newspapers, holding local events , running television commercials , and hiring a skywriter to write “Vote No” above Australia’s Parliament House in Canberra Several GetUp-initiated petitions have been presented in the Australian Senate by representatives of different political parties.

As listed on the GetUp! website, past campaigns include:

  • Now you answer to us, August 2005 - launch
  • Stop preventative detention, September 2005 - against changes to anti-terrorism legislation
  • We're counting on you, October 2005 - against the WorkChoices legislation
  • Something you can do, December 2005 - against racism, in response to the Cronulla riots
  • No child in detention, 2006 - against proposed changes to migration laws
  • We're calling Washington, 2006 - in support of convicted terrorist David Hicks
  • Authorised bribes, 2006 - in favour of expanded terms of reference for the Cole Inquiry into the Australian Wheat Board
  • Our own plan for Iraq, 2006 - against Australian involvement in the Iraq War
  • Climate action now, 2006 - in favour of certain actions in relation to global warming
  • Don’t let them stop you from voting, 2007 – calling for the repeal of laws that close the electoral rolls the day the elections are officially called.
  • Close The Gap, 2007 – action to achieve health equality for Indigenous Australians
  • Australia GetsUp 07, 2007 – election campaign
  • Equal before the law, 2007 – equality for same sex marriage
  • No rubber stamp, 2007 – anti-Northern Territory intervention
  • Save our senate, 2007 – fight for a democratic senate
  • No Pulp Mill, 2007 – stop the Gunns paper mill
  • APEC targets, 2007 – demanding binding climate change targets
  • Promise Watch, 2007 – monitoring politicians on election promises
  • How Should I Vote?, 2007 – online survey that help people find their local candidate and awareness of their issues
  • Equal Pay for Equal Work, 2008 – raising awareness on pay disparity and under-valued nature of women’s jobs.
  • Stand Up for Tibet, 2008 – urging PM Rudd to take action and stand against China’s crackdown in Tibet.


GetUp is a non-profit organisation, registered as GetUp Ltd. In the vein of, much of the organisation’s funding comes in the form of small contributions made through its website. Under Australia’s taxation regime, donations to GetUp are not considered tax-deductible as the organisation advocates for changes to government policy. GetUp has a small team of staff and volunteers based in Sydney, including Executive Director Brett Solomon.

GetUp's board members are:

Madden and Heimans ran campaigns in the United States against President George W. Bush.Tattersall serves as Research Director at Unions New South Wales. Former board members have included Evan Thornley and Bill Shorten who left the board to pursue party political positions, and former Liberal Party of Australia leader John Hewson who left the organisation soon after its founding.


Spam claims

The GetUp! website allows visitors to send pro forma protest emails to Coalition parliamentarians, leading to charges that GetUp! generates spam. Shortly after the first GetUp! emails began to arrive, member for Wentworth Malcolm Turnbull said that "When you get 1,000 emails, all in exactly the same form, it's not exactly as persuasive as a bunch of emails people have written to independently express themselves." GetUp dismisses this criticism arguing that it rarely allows for form letters or emails, rather it encourages its members to write individual and handcrafted emails. This position is reflected in an article in the Sydney Morning Herald which acknowledges the role of GetUp in "an age in which people were interested in political issues but no longer had the time to write letters.

Front claims

GetUp has been criticised for being a partisan site because of its consistent opposition to key Liberal Party policies. On August 4, 2005, Liberal Party politician Andrew Robb said on the ABC's The 7.30 Report that GetUp is "a front for the Labor Party, it's a political front. They're quite entitled to do it, it's a free country, but it's a political front. That's what it is.

GetUp has repeatedly rejected this claim, reiterating that they are strictly independent and don’t have any affiliation with any political party. GetUp cites a number of campaigns which critique the Labor party, including “Your message to Labor” regarding climate change and also the anti-Gunns pulp mill campaigns. GetUp quotes that “our campaigns target issues and those with the power to make them happen rather than directly for or against a party”.

In August, 2005, Australian Special Minister of State Eric Abetz called for two Australian regulatory bodies — the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) — to investigate GetUp's corporate structure, donations, and affiliation with political parties. The AEC rejected the call for an investigation concluding that there were "insufficient grounds on which to undertake a formal investigation."

Since the change of Government in 2007, GetUp has criticised Labor Party policies such as FuelWatch.

See also

External links


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