The rise of far right extremism in Australian politics

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As Federal election day approaches, a Murdoch University criminologist has said more needs to be done in politics and policing to deal with right wing extremism.

Dr Mark Briskey, who is an expert in terrorism and criminal intelligence, says Australian white extremism should be accorded equal attention and resources as many other threats to the state.

In a presentation at the recent Radicalisation, De-radicalisation and Counter-Radicalisation conference at UWA, Dr Briskey highlighted that a litany of racist, Islamophobic, intolerant and misogynist views had been exposed in the Federal election campaign.

“Candidates for some of the far right political parties like One Nation and Fraser Anning’s Conservative National Party have expressed racist views openly on campaign materials and in social media,” Dr Briskey said.

“Victorian Liberals were forced to dump a candidate over a conspiracy-laden anti-Muslim rant. And earlier this week, anonymous racist flyers targeting WA MP Anne Aly were circulated in her electorate.

“We’ve even seen the National Party in Queensland make a preference deal with One Nation, a party which has vilified Asians, Indigenous Australians, Muslims and asylum seekers. Nationals leader Michael McCormack claims One Nation are more closely aligned to his party than Greens or Labor.”

Far right threat

Dr Briskey said the far right threat in the election campaign was both subtle and explicit, and raised concerns that such relationships between parties fostered and allowed racism and intolerance to be sanitised and legitimised.

“This is the kind of environment in which extremist racism can ignite,” Dr Briskey said.

“There has been a marked decline in civilised ethical debate in the rhetoric of the right in this election campaign.”

Dr Briskey said there were lessons to be learned from other jurisdictions who are responding to the multifaceted threats of extremism.

“New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is speaking to digital leaders in Paris to promote a way forward that does not restrict the free use of the net but seeks a consistent global approach to addressing right wing extremism,” Dr Briskey said.

“The United Kingdom has sobering lessons from their ongoing responses to bigoted white extremism. White extremist Jack Renshaw was arrested for plotting to assassinate a British MP after his group was infiltrated by police.

“This is an important tactical reminder for Australian policing and intelligence.”

Dr Briskey said Australian society led by its politicians needed to be attuned to and vigilant of the extremist views of people elected to government.

He also urged the creation of policies to help educators foster greater cultural understanding and acceptance in schools.
Posted on:

16 May 2019

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