Thursday, 4 February 2021
At the request of Senator Keneally, I move:
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) there has been a significant increase in far-right extremism in Australia,
(ii) far-right extremism is often cultivated through its overlap with various conspiracy theories, which have become a common tool to radicalise individuals through misinformation on social media, and
(iii) far-right extremism tears apart the social fabric of Australia's multicultural community;
(i) the Members for Hughes and Dawson for promoting a range of conspiracy theories and misinformation campaigns relating to COVID-19, climate change, voter fraud and 'false flag' operations in the United States,
(iii) other far-right extremist groups which seek to promote fascism and bigotry in our community;
(c) expresses its support for the many multicultural and First Nations Australians who are vilified by far-right extremists; and
(d) calls on the Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs to take action to combat the spread of far-right extremism within their party and in the broader community.
by leave—I move an amended motion:
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) Australia is one of the most successful multicultural countries in the world;
(ii) far-right and far-left extremism is often cultivated through its overlap with various conspiracy theories, which have become a common tool to radicalise individuals, especially through misinformation on social media, and
(iii) extremism in all its forms tears apart the social fabric of Australia, in particular across our multicultural communities;
(i) the promotion of a range of conspiracy theories and misinformation campaigns by far-right and far-left extremists,
(iii) all other extremist groups which seek to promote fascism, communism, anarchism, violence and bigotry in our community;
(c) expresses its support for all Australians—particularly multicultural, ethnic, religious and First Nations Australians—who are vilified by extremists; and
(d) re-affirms that there is no place in the Australian community for any individual or group who seeks to promote disharmony.
Labor will be opposing the amendment to the motion, because the government is seeking to white-out the advice of ASIO, the Australian Federal Police and the Department of Home Affairs that right-wing extremism is on the rise in Australia. The Secretary of the Department of Home Affairs confirmed this on Sky News on Tuesday.
If you needed any more evidence that this government has absolutely no interest in grappling with the existential threat of far-Right extremism, look no further than this amendment and look no further than the debate that it contributed to yesterday. It's more nonsensical false equivalences and more nonsensical downplaying of the deadly seriousness of far Right terror. This is really harmful stuff. This is running interference on the side of fascism and hate. This is the Australian equivalent of Donald Trump commenting on the Charlottesville violence, blaming both sides for what had happened. That's why we will oppose this amendment. You should really be so ashamed of yourselves, but you have no shame. That's the problem.
One Nation supports this amendment to the motion being passed because it expresses that we are against all extremism, whether it's from the far Right or the far Left. That is taking a balanced path. I stated yesterday in my speech that it cannot be one sided; you have to be, as leaders of this nation, against all extremism. That's why we support this amendment, and I encourage the Left and the opposition to consider it. Otherwise, if you are quiet on this and you do not support it, you support extreme—
You do support it. You never actually speak against extremism on the Left side. You do not. It happens in this country on both sides. Take a balanced view of it and look at it objectively—not from a political side, as you are. (Time expired)
I thank the Senate for passing the amendment to this motion that has just been passed. This is an important amendment, because it makes clear that this Senate condemns all forms of extremism, allows for a unifying motion to be put, I trust, in this place, in support of all Australians, and the respect that all Australians ought be to be shown. Our strength and resilience as a nation comes from our unity as Australians, regardless of our faith, cultural or other backgrounds or positions. In this place we often see motions bowled up for wedge purposes that conflate different issues and draw together different points. What is important is that on issues like this we try as hard as possible to speak clearly with one voice. The amended motion provides the opportunity for us to condemn extremism and to show our respect and support for all Australians.
Labor will support the amended motion, but let's make clear that what the government just did was attempt to white out the advice of national security agencies. Mike Pezzullo, Secretary of Home Affairs, this week on Sky News said right-wing extremism is on the rise. ASIO has said it is on the rise. The AFP has said it is on the rise. The Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, said last week: 'Right-wing extremism is on the rise. It is the terrorist threat that we must confront'. This government has tried to downplay and dismiss it. That is what this amendment sought to do. Today Alex Hawke said, 'There is no rise in right-wing extremism.' What the government have done here today is attempt to white it out of this motion. Labor will support the amended motion, because, of course, we support taking action against extremism in all forms. What is embarrassing is that the government denies that it is happening.
The Greens won't call a division, but we would like it noted that given the changes we do oppose it, because the government doesn't even agree that there has been a significant increase in far-Right extremism. They took that out. That's outrageous. The Greens object to the amendments so we object to the motion, but we won't divide.