Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party has been listed as one of 20 established and emerging hate groups in Australia by a global extremism think tank, for its track record on anti-multiculturalism, white nationalism, and COVID-19 conspiracy theories.
In a report released on Wednesday, the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism (GPAHE) added One Nation and the Australian Christian Lobby to its registry of Australian hate groups, as part of an educational global series aimed at illustrating how local hate groups interact with others around the world.
Wendy Via, the report’s author and co-founder of GPAHE, said far-right extremist movements, like those listed in the report, inspire terrorism, mass killings, and rights-restricting policies around the world, and they’re increasingly interconnected.
“Community safety and democracies are at risk. It’s critical that people, locally and globally, understand the far-right extremist landscape, how it operates, and how the dots are connected within countries and transnationally in order to counter the threats from these groups,” Via said.
In its Australian report, the think tank describes One Nation’s ideology as one centred around anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-globalist, white nationalist and conspiratorial sentiment.
The report goes on to detail how the party, through senator Pauline Hanson, runs on a “broadly populist and protectionist platform”, couched in claims that other political parties are out of step with the rest of mainstream Australia.
It also offers readers a speedrun of Hanson’s headline acts of racism and white nationalism, including an incident in 2017, when she wore a burqa into question time before tearing it off during a speech she tried to use to get the religious garment banned.
The One Nation leader has a chequered track record on racism, stretching all the way back to her maiden speech to parliament in 1996, where she ranted about the “reverse racism” that offers Indigenous people of Australia “privileges…over other Australians”.
Earlier this month, Hanson was referred to the Human Rights Commission after she told Greens senator, Mehreen Faruqi, to “piss off back to Pakistan” on Twitter, and later delivered a broadsided defence of the slur on the Senate floor.
“It’s incredibly disturbing to see a growing number of groups boldly advocating for a white ethnostate in Australia,” said Heidi Beirich, a co-founder at GPAHE.
“There is no doubt that the racism and bigotry that Trump unleashed in the US has influenced and emboldened that same sentiment as far away as Australia.”
And Hanson isn’t the only figure with one foot in Canberra to find itself on the GPAHE’s list.
In among various neo-nazi organisations and white nationalist hate groups lies the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), which is described by the GPAHE as one that is fiercely anti-LGBTQ+, and denies “the existence of transgender people”.
The report also highlights the group’s deep ties to state and federal politicians, and its relentless lobbying efforts in Canberra. Among the most recent was the Religious Freedom bill, which failed to pass earlier this year, and could still allow for religious schools to expel students on the basis of their gender, or their sexuality.
The bill became the source of major rupture in the former Morrison government, and exposed a grab-bag of cultural fractures in Australian politics. Namely, the influence with which Christian lobby groups, like the ACL, have come to bend leaders in Canberra at will.
The GPAHE’s Australian report emerges as the second instalment of the series published this year, after the think tank—started by Southern Poverty Law Center Alumni—released a similar resource on Irish hate groups in August.
Even then, the report’s authors say their findings in Australia are “very likely understated” because they haven’t included larger international racist skinhead organisations, like Combat-18, the Hammerskins, and Blood & Honour, which are each active in Australia, and other neo-Nazi groups that have recently been banned.
“Though these groups no longer exist in Australia, it is very likely that former members are involved in other far-right groups or activities.”
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