GetUp’s political influence has got up and gone

GetUp’s political influence has got up and gone, by Nick Cater.

In response to some unsym­pathetic questioning from the ­depleted journalists’ table, [GetUp boss Paul Oosting, at a half-empty National Press Club] admitted the organisation’s election tactic of targeting “hard right” MPs had been a total failure.

When the ABC’s Sabra Lane suggested GetUp’s presence had been superfluous in Warringah since Tony Abbott would have lost anyway, Oosting did not disagree. But, as he told supporters ear­lier in the year, it had been “the right thing to do”.

In the real world Oosting would have been lucky to hang on to his job after wasting $3.5m of donated funds on a hairbrained adventure in democracy. For the utopian left, on the other hand, the only thing more satisfying than victory is virtuous defeat, and a surprising number of people ­appeared happy to fund it.

It would be a mistake to say that GetUp achieved nothing at the May election. It succeeded in ­making this the meanest, nastiest and most-polarised campaign in recent memory.

Together with the union movement, it sought to ­influence the ­result through falsehood and ­intimidation. Yet its influence was, if anything, in the Coalition’s favour, building sympathy for most of the candidates it attacked and revealing itself to be anything but the spontaneous group of concerned citizens it pretends.

Oosting’s claim that GetUp has a million members is preposterous. It is feasible that it has a million email addresses since it uses all the tricks of social media marketing to harvest them. But as Oosting admitted, only 50,000 ­responded to its many appeals to chip in to save the world.