Sue Bolton, a socialist councillor in Melbourne, has accused Victorian authorities of deliberately minimising the threat of far-right figures.
The ABC revealed on September 3 that Phillip Galea, a former member of the far-right United Patriots Front and the True Blue Crew, is facing a committal hearing over threats to carry out terrorist attacks on the Resistance Centre in Melbourne’s CBD, the Melbourne Anarchist Collective and the Victorian Trades Hall.
In September 2015, Galea visited the Resistance Bookshop, where he confronted Bolton, then the Melbourne convenor of Socialist Alliance. She is currently a councillor in Moreland City Council.
Bolton told Green Left Weekly that, at the time, she thought Galea had acted in a strange manner, as if he was on a reconnaissance mission at the Resistance Centre. Prosecutors confirmed that they found footage of Galea doing precisely that.
Bolton said he pestered her for a copy of the The Anarchist Cookbook and a book on the IRA’s bombing campaigns, neither of which were stocked in the Resistance Centre's bookshop.
About a year later, Bolton was informed by the Victorian Police that Galea had been planning an attack on the Resistance Centre. When he was arrested, authorities raided his property and found 361 grams of mercury.
“I am very concerned that Galea’s potential to harm is deliberately being minimised”, Bolton said. “Some of the mainstream media and Galea’s fellow right-wingers are playing down his potential to inflict harm by describing him as being ‘nuts’.
“This is an excuse by those who are no friends of the left. They want to downplay the threats of the far-right, because it suits their political agenda.”
Bolton said that he could have carried out a lot of damage with 361 grams of mercury.
“Even an amount as small as 0.1 millilitre, if absorbed through the skin, can cause severe poisoning.”
Bolton pointed to the shocking case of British Labour MP Jo Cox, who was gunned down by a Nazi-obsessed man a week before the Brexit vote in 2016, saying that Cox had become a target for the right because of her strong stance against racism and in support of migrant rights.
“Galea was charged with taking a gun to a racist rally in Melton in 2015, where anti-racist activists were planning a counter-rally.
“The promotion of fascist and Nazi ideology, and racism, has to be taken seriously", Bolton said, adding, “Racism and fascists can do serious harm; they can also kill.”
Bolton also condemned the “hypocrisy” of certain media outlets and politicians: “If Galea had been a Muslim, and had been found with this amount of mercury, they would have been calling for his head.
"But because he was threatening the left, they are minimising him as a risk.”