NSW Greens MP explains why Wikileaks matters

Here’s the AAP story on today’s Wikileaks rally in Sydney:

More than a thousand advocates of free speech have taken to the streets of Sydney in support of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Australian-born Mr Assange has enraged the United States by leaking American diplomatic cables that embarrassed world leaders.

He is currently on bail in England as he fights attempts to extradite him to Sweden for questioning on allegations of sexual assault.

NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge told the crowd of more than 1000 people in central Sydney on Saturday that the Australian government should support Mr Assange after Prime Minister Julia Gillard dubbed the website “unlawful”.

“The actions of WikiLeaks are not only lawful, they’re essential for fostering free speech in the 21st century. That’s why we’re here to support those actions.”

Mr Shoebridge said that rom a Greens’ perspective, the whaling leaks were the most significant.

US diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks show that as late as February 2010, Australia was willing to compromise with Japan if the deal resulted in a reduced level of whaling.

“Here they are in the major Australian newspapers, they’re speaking in support of an absolute ban on whaling,” he said.

“Yet we now know that in the dark corridors they’re shuffling along trying to cut a deal with the Japanese government which would continue to see the slaughter of whales.”

Protesters collected money for Queensland’s flood victims as they marched down Sydney’s George Street.