Adjournment: Response to Rise of Far-Right Extremism Inquiry
My adjournment matter tonight is for the Premier, and my ask is that his government responds to the Legal and Social Issues Committee’s inquiry, completed in the last Parliament, into the rise of far-right extremism in Victoria. Over the summer it has once again been distressing to see groups of neo-Nazis and far-right fascists gather openly in Melbourne. Last month a group of far-right white supremacists gathered on Elwood beach in the middle of the day, making offensive gestures and taking and sharing photos that were widely circulated on social media. And on Invasion Day, a day of mourning and reflection for our First Nations community, a group of far-right racist extremists attempted to disrupt Merri-bek council’s mourning ceremony. These events have occurred following years of escalating incidents in Victoria, and I know personally what it feels like to be on the receiving end of their threats and terror.
These far-right extremists are becoming increasingly emboldened and are a threat to Victoria. These groups prey on the isolated and vulnerable in our communities and exploit people’s fears and anxieties to further their own ideological movements. Their movements are founded upon spreading hatred and misinformation in order to increase division in our communities and mistrust of authorities and of each other. Such harmful ideologies have no place in Victoria. They are a threat to our First Nations community and our multicultural communities and must be denounced and rejected when we encounter them, especially by all of us in this place.
Last year the Greens initiated and participated in the Legal and Social Issues Committee’s inquiry into extremism in Victoria. This inquiry was the first of its kind in Australia and investigated the rise of far-right extremism in our state. The inquiry found that the COVID-19 pandemic had provided fertile ground for far-right movements and that people’s exposure to far-right extremist ideologies had escalated during the pandemic. It found that young people are targeted by far-right groups and are particularly at risk of radicalisation and recruitment, and it found that racism and racist scapegoating are a common feature of far-right movements. While its findings should be concerning to all of us, the inquiry also found that there are things that our governments can do to prevent and counter these movements and to keep our communities safe. It made 12 recommendations, including the government using and investing more in social cohesion and community building, supporting more anti-racism education, and digital and critical literacy, especially for young people. It also recommended improving our integrity measures to build trust in our political systems. However, the last government failed to respond to the findings and recommendations of the inquiry despite its importance and the growing threats of inaction. The start of this Parliament is an opportunity for the government to signal its priorities for a new term. Countering the continued presence of far-right racist movements in our community must be one of these priorities. I ask the Premier to ensure that the government responds to the previous Legal and Social Issues Committee’s inquiry into extremism in Victoria and that it be prepared to table it as a matter of priority.