Last week the far-right Australian political party Australia First and Australian members of the Greek far-right political party Golden Dawn held a rally in Brisbane.
A new briefing from the Online Hate Prevention Institute (OHPI) examines how these groups connected through social media following revelations of on 60 Minutes on April 13 that Golden Dawn has a presence in Australia.
As J-Wire reported following the 60 Minutes revelations, the presence of Golden Dawn in Australia is causing concern in the Greek Community. The Australian Hellenic Council NSW Inc. responded with alarm and warned that Golden Dawn had “elements of a brutal and overtly racist ideology”.
The OHPI briefing notes that a Facebook page “Australians for the Golden Dawn Party” was created back in November 2013. The briefing presents examples of the racist posts that appear on the Facebook page of this Australia offshoot of the Greek neo-Nazi group. Some of the racist examples are from overseas while others are specifically Australia, promoting a return to the White Australia Policy. The content is likely to breach the much discussed S 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act (Cth).
Social media has played an important role in bringing these two Australian based fascist groups together both online and at the rally in Brisbane. While social media aims to connect people, OHPI argues that there is no reason it should be used to connect and empower political organisations whose core policies run counter to the “Community Standards” the social media platforms seek to promote. OHPI has called for the Australian Golden Dawn page to be closed by Facebook.
In a related opinion piece at the Jerusalem Post, OHPI’s CEO, Dr Andre Oboler, has argued that the debate in Australia around S 18C has galvanised support against racism. Referring to the Fairfax-Nielsen poll which showed 88% of the public supported leaving the law as it stands, and statistics showing that 45% of Australians are either born overseas or having at least one parent born overseas, Dr Oboler argues that multiculturalism remains an essential part of the Australian identity.
Multiculturalism is opposed by far-right groups like Golden Dawn and Australia First. The latter includes opposition to multiculturalism as one of the pillars of its political platform. Such groups are unlikely to gain much political traction in Australia, but they remain a problem. The nature of the leadership of Australia First and Golden Dawn highlight the danger. Jim Saleam, President of Australia First has been imprisoned twice, the first time in 1989 for providing a gun used by skin heads to shoot at the home of the African National Congress representative to Australia, and the second time for fraud. Golden Dawn’s leader in Greece is currently under arrest in connection with a murder. We don’t need jack boots on the streets of Australia, even if they are few in number.
The President of the Hellenic Council of NSW, Mr George Vellis, has previously told J-Wire that, “Golden Dawn’s attempt to introduce its disgusting brand of racism and hatred into Australia is not welcome and highlights how important it is for Australia to arm itself with strong educational and legal tools – including the existing anti-racism laws in the Racial Discrimination Act – to combat its extremist ideology and the ugly fascism that lies beneath”.
In light of the rally last week and the blatant racism on Facebook by “Australians for the Golden Dawn Party”, the call from the President of the Hellenic Council of NSW ought to be repeated and the laws we have ought to be used to clean up the hate Mr George Vellis warned about and which OHPI has now documented. In 2014, such hate has no place in Australia.
Dr Andre Oboler is the CEO of OHPI
This article was first published as: Andre Oboler, “Social media connects far-right groups…writes Andre Oboler“, J-Wire, 9 May 2014