The involvement of the progressive lobby group GetUp! in the campaign to get people to contact their MPs with their views on same-sex marriage was attacked by a number of Coalition MPs at the report-back, with two claiming that people could use the website to send fake emails.

“The GetUp petition is open to manipulation — a person can enter any name, any email address and postcode, real or fictitious, and an email is generated to a Member of Parliament,” Liberal MP Kevin Andrews claimed.

“When I responded to the anonymous GetUp!-generated emails asking the correspondents to indicate their address so that I could check that they were, indeed, constituents of my electorate, just a handful responded.”

“GetUp! — this paragon of grassroots social democracy — has been out there trying to subvert the democratic process with fake emails coming in from people who know nothing about what they are supposed to be signing up to. What a disgrace,” National Party MP George Christensen said.

This was based on the claim that one person had told him they had not emailed him about same-sex marriage.

Neither MP had told constituents to contact them on the issue but spoke at the report-back anyway.

In response, GetUp! national director Simon Sheikh said thousands of genuine Australians had contacted their politicians.

“Of course, some on the other side of this debate seek to belittle that,” Sheikh said. “We’re proud of the amount of community support that marriage equality campaigners have activated over the last few months in particular and we’ll continue to prosecute the case for equality.

“Polling continually shows over 60 percent of Australians support marriage equality and that number’s growing.

“When these same politicians say they’ve not heard community calls for change, they show they have neglected to actively gauge the opinion of their electorates, and worse, they’re ignoring community sentiment.”

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