A largely uneventful, and small, far right rally was held in Sydney on Sunday 24 June. The rally was organised by the True Blue Crew (TBC), a far right group that was formed in Melbourne in late 2015.
The “Aussie Pride Flag March” rally was made up of a group of 50 protesters, mostly middle-aged males. Many of them were draped in Australian flags and some with beach towels of the Australian flag. The police presence outnumbered the protesters.
Although it was a small gathering that marched from the Anzac War Memorial through Hyde Park to the NSW Parliament, chanting “Aussie Pride, nation-wide” and “Aussie Aussie Aussie, oi oi oi”, the rally and its ideas are part of the rise of the far right within Australia over the last several years.
True Blue Crew describes itself as being “against the Islamisation of Australia, the far left wing, or any ideology that seeks to destroy our Australian culture and way of life.” TBC has focussed on opposing Islam and the building of mosques, speaking against so-called “African violence” in Melbourne, and against multiculturalism and socialism. This was the first year that TBC has held a Flag March in Sydney.
There were two large placards in the TBC rally denying that the far right are racists: “There’s no hate in pride!!!” and “Patriotism is not racism!!!” each next to the TBC logo. Other people wore their politics on the clothing, like gang colours, showing they belonged to other far right groups such as Infidel Brotherhood. One speaker had the words “Deplorable lives matter” on his t-shirt, and another speaker had “If you don’t love it, leave” under an Australian flag on her t-shirt. Yet, the one lone counter-protester, Bill Ryan, an elderly man in a walker, and WWII veteran, held a sign “Kokoda veteran says NO to Racism”.
The first speaker was a young man, Thomas Hopper, from the Lads Society. This group has male-only “clubhouses” in Melbourne and Sydney, and is closely associated with Blair Cottrell of the now defunct United Patriots Front. Hopper declared “Our movement is rising and it is growing and we will take this country back.”
He railed that “we must stand up against the exploitation that we are currently facing, against international bankers that are taking everything from us. Everything! They are ruthless. We have a country but they don’t. They’re everywhere and anywhere. But us, we have a soil. And we have to defend it against anything that threatens it. They’re currently trying to take everything from us. They are dividing our society. They are dividing our society very aggressively through this mass mass immigration, they’re dividing our society through this new wave of gender theory, this new radical feminism, this new age of Marxism…”
Hopper continued “The way we fix this mass division in our communities which I absolutely hate is to recreate a national spirit, a national unity, one that can fight against this division… This national community… will be achieved by our very own will, our own determination, our own struggle. Struggle is the law of nature, and nature only rewards those who embrace struggle the most, we must embrace it until we become one again.”
There was no overt antisemitism in Hopper’s speech, but read between the lines and it is an old familiar refrain, antisemitic in its message and choice of words.
Another speaker was Riccardo Bosi, a tall elegant man dressed in a long brown coat, who claimed that the Australian federal government was illegitimate due to sitting politicians being dual nationals, therefore passing illegal laws, and ruling on behalf of elites overseas. “We are at war” Bosi exclaimed. “If we lose the fight” he warned “what we are seeing in Europe is a taste of what is to come in Australia.” He called on people to unite politically, and to “build an army” to vote good people in to parliament.
A small rally. An insignificant rally in itself. But a sign that the far right in Australia is still an active force, albeit still on the fringes. Their ideas are couched carefully and covertly so as not to appear too extreme. But underneath the surface, the ideas they propagate are extreme far right and are intolerant of ethnic and religious minorities, intolerant of equal rights for women, and intolerant of those not of their ilk.
Julie Nathan is the Research Officer for the Executive Council of Australian Jewry