Senate debates

Thursday, 9 March 2023

Statements by Senators

Assange, Mr Julian Paul

1:49 pm

Photo of Peter Whish-WilsonPeter Whish-Wilson (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

My colleague Senator Shoebridge and I and the other parliamentary friends of Assange group met today with Julian Assange's father, John Shipton, and his lawyer, Stephen Kenny. We also heard from his partner, Stella, who talked to us about her despair about the lack of action from the Australian government to release Julian Assange.

We've learned today that our Prime Minister will meet with both the UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, and, for the first time, with President Biden next week. Prime Minister, will you finally raise this issue directly with our allies and counterparts? Will you raise the release of Julian Assange? You have come out and said you think enough is enough and you believe that he should be freed. The test will be whether you raise this directly with President Biden next week. I ask the Prime Minister to make a statement following that meeting on whether you did raise this issue, and I urge the Australian media to hold our Prime Minister to account.

We've heard from this government since the election nearly nine months ago that quiet diplomacy was necessary for the release of Julian Assange. We've let this run. It's nine months down the track, we've heard nothing and his family are despairing. Enough is enough, as you said, Prime Minister. Now is the time to raise this directly with President Biden and make sure this Australian citizen, who is a hero to so many, is finally freed. After four years of incarceration in a maximum security prison and after nearly 14 years in confinement, he's yet to be found guilty of any crime.

There's no crime in telling the truth. There is a crime in keeping Mr Assange behind bars.


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