Speech: Clear links between the far-right and mainstream media and politics
Over the last two weeks we have seen alarming revelations in the media about the extent and character of far-right organising in this country. The 'Nazis Next Door' investigation conducted by the Nine papers and 60 Minutes in collaboration with antifascist researchers has revealed some dark truths about the growing threat of white supremacy and far-right extremism. The investigation was shocking but not entirely surprising for those of us who have followed the rise of the far-right closely and are impacted by racism and its deadly consequences.
The far-right is organised, security conscious and internationally connected. Alarmingly, some members are military trained and have access to weaponry. The potentially horrific consequences of this shouldn't be understated. These people, mostly men, want nothing less than a white ethno state, and violence against minorities and antiracists who seek to stand in their way. They pose an existential threat to our multicultural society. We have to deal with right-wing extremists and also the political environment in which they are emboldened and led down a path of hate. Too often racism is given a free pass in media and mainstream politics. In some situations, far-right figures are given sympathetic platforms in broadcast media and have connections to sitting MPs. The former Australian neo-Nazi leader Blair Cottrell was infamously given a very soft interview on Sky News in 2018. Earlier, Cottrell contributed to a panel discussion on the ABC. While he was subsequently banned from Sky, the channel continues to platform extremists and racists.
Right-wing politicians have fuelled racism in Australia and created an environment that is ripe for this rapid growth of the far-right through mainstreaming their dangerous ideologies and enabling far-right groups to recruit members. Some, like the member for Kennedy, Bob Katter, have been directly supportive of far-right groups. Mr Katter in 2017 made a pledge of allegiance to the Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group that has since been labelled a terrorist organisation in Canada. Former senator Fraser Anning was a member of Mr Katter's political party. Let's not forget that Mr Anning associated with neo-Nazis and white supremacists and blamed Muslim immigration for the Christchurch mosque massacre. The member for Dawson, Mr Christensen, who is a Nationals member of this government, also has longstanding and documented links to the far-right in this country. From his appearances at so-called Reclaim Australia rallies as far back as 2015 to his interviews on far-right podcasts that have also hosted neo-Nazis and white supremacists, it is impossible to deny that Mr Christiansen has contact with members of the far-right.
There is also a relationship between the youth branches of right-wing parties in this country and far-right extremists, the likes of which we saw in the Nine investigation. In 2018, the National Party in New South Wales was rocked by revelations that far-right activists had infiltrated the state branch and taken up office-bearing positions in the Young Nationals. In the Nine investigation, an identified member of the National Socialist Network shares the same name as a former office bearer of the Liberal club at a university in Victoria. Now-deleted Facebook posts show that the individual, rather terrifyingly, spoke on the affirmative side of a Liberal club debate about whether Australia should legalise the death penalty.
These connections and links go on and on and on. Honestly, I could speak at length tonight about the documented and extensive relationships between far-right extremists, mainstream media and politics. To this point, I think this aspect of the debate has largely been missed in the response to the 'Nazis Next Door' investigation. Yes, these young men are dangerous. Yes, their ideas are still considered repugnant and terrifying to the vast majority of people. But they are not so far removed from mainstream politics and media as many might expect. And the government continues its refusal to take these matters seriously. Thank you, Mr President.