Darrin Hodges is a Protectionist: he wants to protect (White) Australia from Asians, Muslims, Communism, Multiculturalism, teh Gays, Muslims, and Asians. (And Muslims.) Once an admirer of Hitler, a Jew-hater, a member of Don Black‘s Stormfront website and Dr James Saleam’s Australia First Party, Hodges has since been expelled from/renounced his membership of the Party (denounced as the ‘Australian Faggot Party’), denied his membership of Stormfront, made his peace with ZOG, and, presumably, learnt that public expressions of support for Mr Hitler are unlikely to endear him to the electorate. What kind of expressions?
“I’m more interested in the purer form of fascism… and while I don’t subscribe to the whole ‘worship Hitler’ thing, his comments on multiculturalism and politics in general are still just as relevant today as they were 70-odd years ago” he once wrote. On June 20, 2005, he added that “i cant say im into the whole national socialist thing – as far as im concerned, National Socialism died with it’s [sic] creator, not that i do not have any regard for his writings, indeed, they still have much relevance today – he laid a foundation that we should build on”. And just for good measure, a week later (June 26) Darrin further noted that “i have some good colour footage (no sound) of Adolf Hitler at The Berghoff. PM me if you want a copy of the footage”. (‘darrinh’ joined the world’s premiere White supremacist website in June 2005.)
Currently, Darrin is preparing to contest the upcoming local council elections in NSW on behalf of the recently-formed Australian Protectionist Party, and is hoping to win one of three seats in Ward D of the Sutherland Shire Council, whose current occupiers include the Mayor, David Redmond (a Tory). Last September, however, wearing his ‘revolutionary’ hat, Darrin was a ‘national anarchist’, one of about twenty who formed a ‘black bloc’ at the APEC protest. (The same mob has now declared itself to be composed not of Australian patriots but oppressed Tibetans.)
Darrin is nothing if not persistent. Either that, or a very slow learner. Having initially been exposed to the public following his enthusiastic embrace of the White ‘civil uprising’ in Cronulla in December 2005, as already indicated, Darrin reacted by renouncing his membership of both the Australia First Party and Stormfront. It was only a little while later, however, that he re-joined both. Later still, he left Stormfront and — together with letters to the editor and commentary on other websites — reverted to using one of several blogs to publicise his views. Darrin also established a group he called the ‘Anglo Australian National Community Council’ (the existence of which he announced in November 2006). As the only known member, in this capacity he also organised a number of film screenings and public meetings.
Darrin’s disillusionment with Saleam’s ‘Australian Faggot Party’, and eventual membership of the APP, really began following the less-than-successful NSW state election in March 2007, in which the Party fielded one candidate, John Moffat, in — where else? — the seat of Cronulla. Three months later, in June, Darrin was expelled. (At about this time, Darrin’s blog featured in an episode of Media Watch.) And three months after his expulsion, the APP was formed.
Interestingly, AF — Saleam having successfully wrestled control of the organisation from Diane Teasdale, and registered it in NSW as ‘The Australia First ‘Council Elections’ Party’ — is also standing candidates at the upcoming election (Blacktown, Coffs Harbour, Newcastle and Sutherland Shire), using the stirring slogans “Reclaim New South Wales! Reclaim Australia! Voting For Anything Other Than Australia First Is Largely A Waste Of Time”. And while Darrin and the APP are looking to Nick Griffin and the British Nationalist Party (BNP) for inspiration, AF has recently stitched up an agreement with the kooks in the New Zealand Nationalist Alliance.
- On the BNP, see The BNP Uncovered (PDF), 2005.
Anyway, here’s Philip:
Tough times suit a right lurch
The Canberra Times
August 2, 2008
Pauline Hanson is gone. After achieving a 3.8 per cent vote in the Queensland Senate election last November she has finally, probably, disappeared from national political life.
Earlier this year the media highlighted the fact that Hanson received $213,000, $2.10 a vote, in public funds from the Australian Electoral Commission following her unsuccessful campaign.
On her website she protests that she hasn’t pocketed the money, rather that it was deposited into a Pauline’s United Australia Party account, but no one has really been listening. The caravan has moved on.
Hanson’s autobiography, Untamed and Unashamed, has been on sale on Kmart discount book tables for a knock-down 75c.
For the major political parties, all that remains of the phenomenon that was “Hansonism” are amendments to the Commonwealth Electoral Act to ensure their candidates are only reimbursed for actual campaign expenditure.
Speaking earlier this week following the merger of the Queensland Nationals and Liberals, senior members of the new Liberal National Party said it was unlikely any far-right party would be able to repeat the brief success of the One Nation Party, which secured 22 per cent of the primary vote in the 1998 Queensland state-election and won 11 seats in the state Parliament.
Senator Ron Boswell, who was in the forefront of the National Party’s fight with One Nation, dismissed suggestions by independent federal Member of Parliament Bob Katter, who said that the Liberal-National merger was the perfect opportunity for a new right-wing party to poach conservative support in the bush.
“There is always a danger for [new] parties [to] rise”, Boswell said. “It happened before because people weren’t being heard in the bush. [But] people in the country are pragmatic, they will see a stronger party in a better position to win and we will have to deliver for them.”
Boswell may well be right, but it would be wrong to think that what Tony Abbott once called the “feral right” will remain permanently consigned to the political fringes.
Unnoticed by the national media, a new Australian far-right political party has emerged over the last year. The Australian Protectionist Party has its origins in the fracturing of the Australia First Party that was founded by former federal Labor Member of Parliament Graham Campbell.
Campbell himself split from Australia First to briefly join Hanson’s One Nation Party and Australia First has now split into two, with one faction led by one-time National Action member and right-wing ideologue Dr Jim Saleam, and the other led by the nominal president of the party, Diane Teasdale. The Protectionist Party is the product of a further split and represents an attempt by expelled Australia First members to repackage right-wing nationalism to appeal to a wider audience than far-right activists.
As is often the case with the minor parties of the right, the Australian Protectionist Party is a bit shy about its origins, with its website saying somewhat cryptically that it was “formed by a gathering of people who have been politically active in several other nationalist and patriotic movements, who intend to develop a new social movement in Australia, to tackle the ideological strangle-hold our opponents have upon political discourse in this country, and to take back the moral high ground”.
The party claims to be the “new expression on an Australian Nationalist perspective”.
“Protectionism is deeply rooted in Australian political history,” the party’s website says. “Our first two Prime Ministers were Protectionists and our first federal government was a Protectionist government. Sir Edmund Barton and Sir Alfred Deakin were largely responsible for creating some of our most important institutions.”
Barton and Deakin would probably be spinning in their graves if they thought they had been roped in to provide philosophical cover for a party whose roots are to be found in the various fascist and neo-Nazi factions that have dwelt on the edges of Australian political life over the past 50 years.
Interviewed by The Canberra Times this week, the Protectionist Party’s New South Wales chairman and its first local government candidate, Darrin Hodges declined to identify any members of the party’s national executive apart from himself and the national president, former South Australian Pauline Hanson’s One Nation candidate Andrew Phillips. Both Phillips and Hodges are former Australia First Party members who, having failed to displace that party’s leadership, in particular Saleam, moved to establish their own party.
The Protectionist Party claims membership in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia and the ACT; however, details of the last-mentioned branch are sketchy, indeed no more than a Woden post office box number previously linked to the Australia First Party.
Hodges, who is running for election to the council of Sutherland Shire – home of the Cronulla riots – certainly has a talent for publicity, campaigning against the development proposal to establish an Islamic school at Camden, including a brief appearance on the ABC’s Q&A.
It has been alleged that Hodges has contributed to the neo-nazi “white survivalist” discussion forum, Stormfront, though he denies this.
Hodges is keen to spruik his credentials as a local resident concerned about the quality of life in the Sutherland Shire.
His website declares: “My campaign will be centered around environmental and development issues, principally in relation to the ‘unit boom’ around the shire.” His main focus is what he sees as the link between local development decisions and broader national issues of race and identity.
“Given the tensions certain development proposals have caused in areas such as Bass Hill and Camden, I would vigorously oppose any similar developments that would threaten the peace and harmony of the Shire,” his website says. “We most certainly do not want a repeat of the scenes we saw in Cronulla a few years ago.”
The issue of mosques and Islamic school has provided a useful focus for Protectionist Party activists, with the party’s main website providing templates for local leafleting efforts, but the so-called “Asianisation of Australia” is their primary focus.
“Islam is a problem but people can change their religion, but if you’re an Asian, you are an Asian,” Hodges told The Canberra Times.
In this the election of the Rudd Labor Government has undoubtedly given the new party and far-right groups more generally a new focus and sense of purpose.
The Protectionist Party’s discussion forum is full of references to creeping Asianisation and the need to defend “White Australia” from a resurgence of multiculturalism. Kevin Rudd is commonly referred to as a “Sinophile” whose ambitions for greater Asia-Pacific economic and political integration are viewed as a conspiracy to betray Australia.
The Government’s apology to the Stolen Generations, a feared arrival of Asian guest workers in regional Australia, the end of mandatory detention and a recommitment to multiculturalism by the Federal Government are cited as evidence of a growing national crisis.
“The great danger of people like Rudd is dragging Australia further in the direction of Asianisation”, says Hodges. “This is the most dangerous government since Whitlam.”
It would be easy to simply dismiss Hodges as just another far-right loon, but this would be a mistake. In the interview this week, he was articulate and keen to differentiate himself from what he called the “rabid behaviour” of other far-right activists, notably Saleam, who he says has led Australia First into “an ideological cul-de-sac”.
Still the Protectionist Party is not without direct connections to the more openly extremist elements of far-right and neo-Nazi activity with members being sought through the Stormfront website.
Hodges’ focus on development and environmental issues, while not hiding his anti-Asian agenda, is relatively sophisticated and is clearly closely modeled on British National Party strategies which have enjoyed some success in British local government elections.
Hodges candidly admits to close and growing links between the two far-right groups.
“The BNP is a successful nationalist party,” he says, adding that he has corresponded with the BNP’s leader.
“[Nick] Griffin rescued the BNP from the murky depths of of right-wing extremism,” Hodges says, and he hopes the Protectionist Party will emulate that success in Australia.
The new party’s membership includes a number of former BNP activists and members are travelling to the United Kingdom to attend the BNP’s annual “Red, White and Blue” conference later this month.
Whether Hodges will succeed, or at least achieve a presentable level of support, in the New South Wales local government elections on September 13 remains to be seen.
Labor and Liberal sources in the Sutherland Shire are adamant the odds are stacked against him, but, as one Labor branch stalwart observed, “He’s got quite a lot of publicity and some of it strikes a chord with the locals here.”
Associate Professor in Political Science at Flinders University Dr Haydon Manning said that time would tell whether the Protectionist Party would prosper.
“That will really depend on how far the present economic downturn goes and whether they have the leadership and organisational ability to expand beyond a small core of activists. Possibly the model of the British National Party is a more viable starting point than the precedents provided by earlier Australian far-right parties.
“Right-wing extremist movements have tended to be energised in periods of economic difficulty, and during the life of Labor governments, both federal and state. It’s also true that the seeds of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party were sown in the latter years of the Hawke and Keating Labor governments.
“It’s in periods of economic stress that significant numbers of voters have tended to become … fearful of external pressures on their living conditions. In these circumstances references to stopping “Asianisation” and calls to wind back multiculturalism have had and may again have some appeal. The combination of anti-Islamic rhetoric post-9/11 with long-standing advocacy of a White Australia should also not be discounted.”
By and large the media ignore the far right on the grounds that they are racist and objectionable and that they shouldn’t be given the oxygen of publicity. But it’s always worth keeping an eye on the fringes of political life, because what lurks there may, given the right circumstances, step unexpectedly on the centre stage.
After all, Pauline Hanson’s spectacular rise caught most seasoned political observers by surprise. Darrin Hodges and the Australian Protectionist Party may yet amount to nothing much, but one never quite knows what is around the corner.