Extremists Jump From the Beach to the Ballot

Dan Box, Australian (Sydney), Jan. 4, 2006

The ultra-nationalist Australia First movement is to re-register as a political party in the first step of a national campaign to establish a new politics of the extreme right.

Just weeks after its Australia First followers mobilised protestors at the Cronulla race riots in Sydney, the group has written to supporters seeking the 500 membership forms necessary to register with the Australian Electoral Commission.

It then plans to target federal and local council elections in what party strategy documents describe as “an explosive campaign” to mark its rebirth after being de-registered in 2004 for failing to put forward a federal election candidate in four years.

Jim Saleam, the party’s NSW secretary, said Australia First candidates would campaign on a platform of keeping the country predominantly white.

“What’s being done in Australia now is a situation where the European identity is being deprecated further, to the point where Europeans will disappear next century,” he said. “Under certain circumstances, that would be called a genocide, but it’s not, it’s called progress.”

Dr Saleam, also raised the prospect of paid repatriation, involving ethnic minorities receiving money to leave the country.

The party has been accused of having links to neo-nazi movements.

But Dr Saleam, jailed for 3 1/2 years in 1991 for possessing a firearm and organising a shotgun attack on the home of the African National Congress’s Australian representative, Eddie Funde, denied he had any personal links to neo-nazi groups.

Australia First intends to target council seats in four NSW electorates—Sutherland Shire, Marrickville City, Coffs Harbour and Newcastle, where it also plans to contest the office of mayor.

Despite the city being included by police in a beach lockdown after Cronulla, the Lord Mayor of Newcastle, John Tate, denied it had any racial problems.

“I’d be amazed if Australia First had any success because we’re a tolerant city that wouldn’t be supportive of extremes of left or right,” he said.

Party members are expected to begin campaigning within weeks, although the identity of election candidates is being withheld for fear of harassment.

Australia First also claims to have received financial backing from an anonymous donor keen to underwrite the costs of an election campaign.

Plans to field council candidates in other states, including Queensland and Victoria, are being considered.

Strategy documents reveal Australia First will focus on local politics “to participate in a process which is ‘legitimate’ in the eyes of the people”.

The party also plans to contest the 2007 federal election, with its president, Diane Teesdale, of Shepparton, Victoria, the most likely candidate.

Australia First was one of several far-right organisations that mobilised supporters to attend the race riots in Cronulla last month.

Its members were seen handing out leaflets as the mob attacked anyone of Middle Eastern appearance.

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