Press Release

Australia passes motion demanding Assange’s freedom

86 MPs, including Prime Minister Albanese, voted in favor

February 14, 2024 — The Australian Parliament, with the support of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, voted overwhelmingly in support of a motion calling for an end to Assange’s prosecution and for him to return home to Australia. The motion was introduced by Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie, who warned in his opening remarks that “we’ve just about run out of time to save Julian Assange.”

The motion affirms that “both the Australian Government and Opposition have publicly stated that this matter has gone on for too long” and it “underlines the importance of the UK and USA bringing the matter to a close so that Mr Assange can return home to his family in Australia.”

PM Albanese’s vote in support is his strongest public message to date. The Sydney Morning Herald said that the “vote signalled a new federal government stance by going beyond past statements from Albanese about the need to bring the matter ‘to a conclusion’ in some way.” As The Guardian put it,

Anthony Albanese’s government has repeatedly said that “enough is enough” and that it is time for the Assange matter to be “brought to a conclusion”.

But the motion on Wednesday removed the ambiguity about what that conclusion should entail: allowing him back to Australia.

Wilkie underscored that a conviction would set a precedent that puts every other journalist at risk. Assange is an Australian publisher who was working in Europe at the time of the disclosures; the United States is claiming global jurisdiction. Wilkie said,

“The injustice of all this is absolutely breathtaking—absolutely breathtaking—as much as the attack on journalism is terrifying because if this matter runs to its shameful conclusion, then it will have set a precedent that applies to all Australian journalists. If ever any Australian journalist annoys a foreign government in any way, and if that government is a government that the Australian government is hoping to curry favour with, then who’s to say that the Australian government won’t be complicit in the extradition or the transport of that Australian journalist to that country?”

The resolution passed with a tally of 86 votes to 42, with MPs across the political spectrum signing on in support. Read the resolution and accompanying discussion in full here.