Neo-Nazi thugs offer their services to Hanson

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Neo-Nazi thugs offer their services to Hanson

By Norm Dixon

The Queensland director of Pauline Hanson's One Nation party, Peter James, said on August 6 that the party would accept "support" offered to it by the Adelaide-based neo-Nazi outfit, National Action. NA führer Michael Brander offered One Nation the services of its bully boys to "defend" One Nation meetings from "leftist mobs".

In an attempt to intimidate anti-racists, NA has letterboxed leaflets in Sydney that include the home address of an organiser of the recent national secondary student walkout against racism.

One Nation's footsy with Australia's main neo-Nazi street thugs makes a mockery of Hanson's claim that her party is not racist. NA and its offshoots are virulently and crudely anti-Asian and anti-Semitic. They lauded the vicious South African apartheid regime and continue to propose that Aborigines be subject to a policy of "separate development".

The links page on NA's web site is a who's who of international neo-Nazis, far rightists and assorted Ku Klux Klans. The only Australian "nationalist sites of interest" — other than NA and its allied Australian Republican Movement — are none other than One Nation and former Labor MP Graeme Campbell's Australia First.

"Australian Nationalists seek advantage from the political disorder brought on by the emergence of the One Nation party", NA's June "National News Online" proclaims with glee. "Particularly, we take comfort from the confusion amongst establishment politicians, the angst of the Left and the hardening of attitudes across Australia on serious questions of the national futures."

James told the August 7 Australian that One Nation would have to look at National Action's "objectives" before allowing its members to join his party.

Apparently, the Victorian branch of One Nation was not too disturbed about white supremacists joining its ranks. In June, it was revealed that Andrew Guild, a former Victorian chairperson of NA, had been preselected as One Nation's candidate in the federal seat of Deakin. Guild denied he was a racist, but added that his views were the same as Hanson's.

Brendan Gidley, a founder of the Australian Republican Movement, also joined the Ringwood One Nation branch with Guild. Both resigned when their previous affiliations became public.

That Hanson sees little wrong with associating with neo-Nazis was shown during the 1996 federal election. In the seat of Oxley, which she subsequently won, Hanson directed preferences to Victor Robb, a former Queensland state secretary of the defunct National Front — a party that shared a common ancestor with National Action.

The publication by NA of Resistance activist Marina Carman's (fortunately incorrect) address is a not-too-thinly veiled threat of violence. In January 1996, the house of two Melbourne activists was daubed with swastikas, and their car windows smashed, soon after the activists' address and car registration number appeared in a NA newsletter.

NA has a long history of violence against migrants, Australians of non-European ancestry and anti-racist activists.

NA's origins can be traced to the Australian Party, formed in 1955. The Australian Party evolved into the pro-Nazi Australian Nationalist Party, which then mutated further to become the Australian National Socialist Party in 1963. Its first act was the desecration of a Sydney synagogue.

Members of the ANSP dressed in full Nazi regalia and made a habit of beating up anti-war and anti-apartheid demonstrators. They openly admired Adolf Hitler, stockpiled arms and ammunition and kept a "death list" of people they would kill if they took power.

It is suspected the ANSP was behind the April 20, 1972 (the anniversary of Hitler's birth), bombing of the Brisbane office of the Communist Party of Australia.

The ANSP's most notorious member was a tall, musclebound and shaven-headed stormtrooper by the name of Ross "the Skull" May. The Skull intimidated protesters in Sydney until the late '70s. He was jailed for six months for bashing a journalist in 1972, and served other stints in jail for similar offences over the years.

May and another Nazi Party leader, Robert Cameron, eventually formed the National Front in the 1980s, an imitation of the British party of the same name (May's activities these days are limited to being a fanatical follower of the St George Dragons rugby league team, to the acute embarrassment of dedicated supporters).

Another young ANSP member, Jim Saleam, was arrested in 1974 and found guilty of firebombing a left-wing Brisbane bookshop. After the collapse of the Nazi Party in the mid-'70s, Saleam moved to Sydney and enrolled at Sydney University. He soon fell out with May and Cameron.

In 1977, Saleam formed a group which proclaimed its commitment to the "permanent and unapologetic reintroduction of the White Australia Policy". In 1978, the group announced: "The Australian National Alliance has the greatest pleasure in announcing to the enemies of Australian nationalism that their days are numbered". Other former members of the Australian Party and the NSAP joined.

National Action was officially launched on Anzac Day, 1982, the culmination of a number of fusions with tiny far-right and racist sects.

Under Saleam's tutelage, NA replaced open identification with Hitlerite Nazism with an emphasis on home-grown anti-Asian racism and nationalism of early Australian labour movement figures like William Lane and Jack Lang, as well as poet Henry Lawson.

NA hailed as "revolutionary" incidents such as the atrocities committed against Chinese diggers by white miners during the gold rushes of the 19th century. It adopted the flag of the 1854 Eureka Stockade rebels as its symbol.

In the 1983 campus year, NA launched a campaign against the presence of overseas students. Asian students and anti-racists were threatened by NA thugs late at night. NA violence increased when it launched a goon squad called the "Sons of Kokoda".

In 1983-84, NA thugs: beat and hospitalised an anti-racist UNSW student leader; attacked the offices of Greenpeace and the Movement Against Uranium Mining, Community Aid Abroad, the Socialist Workers Party, Bob Gould's Pitt St Bookshop, and the Maoist East Wind Bookshop; threw a brick through the window of the home of anti-apartheid activist Meredith Burgmann; and made threatening phone calls to members of the Southern African Support Committee after a mailing list was stolen. A firebomb was thrown through the bedroom window of an anti-apartheid movement leader John Brink.

Another escalation in racist violence occurred in 1987-1989: in Adelaide, the People's Bookshop was firebombed and the New Era Bookshop and the Resistance Centre were attacked. In Sydney, 10 NA thugs wearing balaclavas disrupted and intimidated a Sydney meeting of the Gay and Lesbian Immigration Task Force.

The most serious act of violence occurred in January 1989, when the home of the Australian representative of the African National Congress, Eddie Funde, was shot at. Two NA members were arrested.

They testified that Saleam had supplied them with the shotgun. Saleam had also thoughtfully given them each some money to buy a drink to calm their jitters before the attack. Saleam was sentenced in May 1991 to three and half years' jail.

On April 20, 1991, NA member Perry Whitehouse murdered another NA member, Wayne "Bovver" Smith, at the organisation's inner-Sydney headquarters after an argument.

With the departure Saleam and the collapse of its Sydney base, control of NA fell into the lap of Adelaide NA führer Michael Brander.

Little was heard from the group until 1994, when NA relaunched itself in public with rallies in Melbourne and Adelaide. The rallies attracted about 30 in Melbourne on March 5, and 50 in Adelaide on April 9 (including many who attended both).

The majority were skinheads wearing T-shirts emblazoned with swastikas. In Adelaide, loud, scratchy martial music was played, and Brander's mum was on hand to proudly give her son a stiff-armed fascist salute.

A counter-demonstration of 600 anti-racists greeted the Melbourne rally, and more than 1000 rallied in Adelaide. On March 12, 500 anti-racist demonstrators chased Brander and 30 neo-Nazis from the inner-Melbourne suburb of Brunswick when they attempted another rally. A week later, a small band of skinheads trashed the offices of the LaTrobe University Students Representative Council in retaliation.

Brander's attempts to extend NA's base from Adelaide to Melbourne have been frustrated by violent faction fights with rival neo-Nazi grouplets in Melbourne and, most decisively, by mass anti-racist mobilisations.

On March 18, 1995, more than 300 anti-racists mobilised against 30 or so neo-Nazis on the steps of the Victorian Parliament House. Police allowed the NA thugs to break through their lines and attack the anti-racists. Five demonstrators were assaulted and one was taken to hospital. In September, Brander was convicted of assault.

After a 14-month campaign of demonstrations by local residents and anti-racists, in April this year NA was forced to close its bookshop in the working class suburb of Fawkner. It scuttled back to Adelaide without even paying the rent.

Brander's offer of NA's services to One Nation seems to an attempt to revive the neo-Nazi sect's flagging fortunes.

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