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Speech: The government doesn't care about far-right extremism

Speeches in Parliament
Mehreen Faruqi 22 Nov 2021

In March 2019 the Christchurch mosque attacks were carried out by an Australian far-Right extremist who murdered 51 innocent Muslims. Since that day, which so many of us had feared terribly after years of rising far-Right extremism, hatred and racism, this threat has only gotten worse. It constitutes an unimaginable and devastating risk to the safety of communities across this country. ASIO is now reporting that up to 50 per cent of its domestic counterterrorism case load relates to ideologically motivated violent extremism, which is off the back of a sharp rise in far-Right extremism. This past week we saw far-Right extremists on the streets again, having embedded themselves in anti-lockdown and anti-vaccination organising. Some have issued death threats towards public figures, and known Neo-Nazis and fascists were in attendance at rallies, spreading their hate. Some protestors held anti-Semitic, hateful, and offensive signs. There are photographs and chat histories that are all in the public domain which draw a line directly from some of the most extreme, racist, far-Right organising circles in this country right into the heart of these rallies.

Make no mistake, extremist groups are using the burgeoning antivaccination rallies to recruit and to grow their racist causes. Anyone who denies this has not looked at the myriad evidence available to confirm it. Yet the Minister representing the Prime Minister today could not plainly and simply condemn far-Right extremism. The Prime Minister himself can't plainly and simply condemn far-Right extremism. We got the same we always get: condemning all forms of extremism. This might sound like an uncontroversial statement, but all is does is deflect from the serious, unique and present threat that far-Right extremism poses, and that is very dangerous. Far-Right extremism reared its head in the most devastating way in recent years with the Christchurch mosque attacks in March 2019, which were committed by an Australian white supremacist. I asked the minister in question time on 9 December 2020 whether the government would respond to the royal commission into the Christchurch mosque attacks, which had been published the previous day. Minister Birmingham gave me a commitment, when he said:

… our government will examine the report thoroughly, all 44 of its recommendations thoroughly and the final response of the New Zealand government to the report thoroughly, and will engage with the New Zealand government on how it is implementing the recommendations of the report and consider any and all implications for the operation of our own counterterrorism policies and practices.

When I asked for an update on this question on 16 March, Minister Birmingham was unable to give me a direct answer, saying that:

The New Zealand report was not a report to the Australian government, but it is valued input in terms of an additional source of information that will inform the continued investment and policymaking our government makes in relation to these important issues.

Today, again I asked Minister Birmingham directly whether the Prime Minister had read it and what the government had done. We got what was basically a non-answer—no detail about responding to the recommendations within the report; nothing about working with New Zealand and considering the implications for Australia.

The broader reality is that this government just does not care, and it won't give any semblance of caring until it is again too late. Someone else is, or a group of people are, going to get really hurt or killed, and then they will talk for a few days about extreme right-wing violence, and then they will move on again and revert to the script of 'all forms of violence'. It's about as predictable as it is utterly depressing. It is absolutely disgraceful, and you should be ashamed.

HANSARD LINK

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