A blast from the past.
Note that Saleam is a key speaker at the Sydney Forum (September 18/19). Also scheduled to speak is Canadian Holocaust denialist and neo-Nazi (“free speech activist” according to his friends and Uncle Rupert’s Fox News) Paul Fromm. Fromm’s most recent stalking horse has been (‘Boo! Hiss!’) Tamil refugees: presumably, Fromm would look with envy upon the KRudd Government’s decision in April to suspend refugee applications from Sri Lanka for three months — and for those from Afghanistan for six.
The two key organisers of the event are Nicole Hanley and Welf Herfurth. Both Hanley and Herfurth are involved in the local franchise — ‘Volksfront Australia’ — of the US-based Volksfront. (A member of the group, Corey J. Miller, got into some minor trouble in July; in May, one of his kameraden, John Edward Grogan, got sentenced to 5 years jail for defacing a synagogue in April 2009.) Peter Spencer, a farmer who hates trees and loves property (and sitting on poles), will also be speaking. Both Fromm and Saleam intend to address a meeting in Melbourne on September 25 — the date of the annual ‘Ian Stuart Donaldson’ memorial gig. Brendan Gidley, the middle-aged leader of the Eureka Yoof League, will chair the meeting.
The extreme white
The Sydney Morning Herald
November 26, 1988
Jim Saleam initially wanted to study Bolshevist movements but today, Malcolm Brown reports he heads the extreme right National Action group.
National Action is not ashamed that it recognises the role of radical force to overcome reactionary force… “We are arguing for street action, militancy … we must be prepared to struggle, sacrifice and … dare we say it? … kill or be killed.”
These are the words of James Saleam, MA, chairman of the extremist National Action.
For years Mr Saleam has been a front man for a shadowy group of people, linked to groups in other states, who specialise in direct action against nominated individuals.
National Action does not claim responsibility for violent acts – firebombings, shotgun blasts, bricks through the windows at night – but it admits it has produced literature that has nominated people (sometimes with address and phone numbers) who later became targets.
Mr Saleam is, by far, the most articulate leader of the extreme Right in recent years. He is a prolific writer. He does not reveal what he does for a living and resents being asked.
The periodicals he has written for and edited, under various names – Audacity, Ultra, National Action – have the same message: a general opposition to liberal ideas, opposition to a multiracial Australia and warning of a world conspiracy that will disadvantage Australia.
Mr Saleam says he is dedicated to the principle of an independent, non-aligned, more or less racially homogeneous Australia.
He believes National Action will one day be accepted into the main-stream of Australian politics, although the group did poorly when it contested two Federal seats in 1984 (Mr Saleam stood for one) and the state seat of Rockdale this year.
Mr Saleam denies National Action is a Nazi or extreme Right organisation. It was formed in April 1982, combining a so-called Immigration Control Association and other organisations.
Its policy, Mr Saleam said, was consistent with the aims of groups overseas such as the National Front in Britain, the Third Way in France and sections of the National Democrats in Germany.
Mr Saleam admits using the words attributed to him about street fighting and militancy. They were in his booklet Australia’s Road to National Revolution, published four years ago, he claims, to invoke the spirit of World War II nationalism.
Slightly-built, 33 and recently married, Mr Saleam began his higher-degree studies at Sydney University by reading up on British Fascism. For his Master of Arts degree, he elected to study American Nazism. In 1981, the university’s history department suddenly realised that young James was so keen on the subject he has formed his own party, then called the Progressive Nationalist Party, whose platform included restricting Asian immigration.
“It came as quite a shock,” said the then associate professor of history, Richard Bosworth. “Nobody knew he was getting up to all this.” Dr Bosworth, now Professor of History at the University of Western Australia, said Mr Saleam, an arts graduate from Queensland University, had come to Sydney University wanting to do a qualifying course for his MA. “He came to see me, wanting to [do] a dissertation on the Italian Neo-Fascist Party,” Dr Bosworth said. “I said, ‘can you read Italian?’ He said no, and that was the end of the meeting.”
Dr Graham White, a senior lecturer in history at Sydney University, was reluctant to discuss Mr Saleam as a student: “I did not know till halfway through his MA course that he has formed a party of his own. Saleam rang me at one time and said: ‘I owe an explanation.’ But I said: ‘No, you don’t.’ I did not want to discuss it with him. I told him our relationship was strictly an academic one and I was not interested in other dimensions of the subject. His political activities were not a factor in the decision whether or not to award him a MA.”
Jim Saleam got his MA in 1985. The same year, coincidentally, that Dr Bosworth who was publicly speaking against racism in Australia had a brick through the window of his terrace home in Annandale.
Jim Saleam was born in Maryborough, Queensland, son of a commercial property owner in the town. The family has mixed ethnic origns. Some of Mr Saleam’s father’s forbearers were ethnic Greeks living in Turkey; others came from Ireland in colonial times. His mother’s side was British.
Young Saleam went to school at Maryborough, got interested in a Maoist movement, the Worker-Student Alliance, and went to Queensland University in 1973. From the start, he was interested in radical political movements – a Maoist group on the university campus and the right-wing League of Rights.
Another group, the Radical Nationalists, opposed to liberal migration policies and left-wing politics, also attracted his attention and, apparently, his enthusiasm. In 1973 he was convicted and put on a good-behaviour bond for an attack on a Maoist bookshop.
But Mr Saleam was having other troubles: “Special Branch wanted me to break into the Queensland University Students’ Union and steal their activities list and documents relating to what they were going to do in Brisbane in 1974.”
“They told me I was on this bond and I had better co-operate. I just disappeared out of Brisbane for a while. It took me an extra year to get my degree.”
Jim Saleam arrived at Sydney University in 1977. He planned to study Bolshevist movements in Europe, but switched to the other end of the political spectrum.
He became actively involved in fringe politics. The first group was National Resistance, formed in July 1977. It changed its name to National Alliance in 1978. In 1981 he formed a new group, the Progressive Nationalist Party, which sought to home in on growing dissatisfaction in some areas, particularly the outer-western regions of Sydney, to recruit members.
He became associated with Sydney’s home-grown Nazis, but claims he never joined them. Nazi members included the shaven-headed heavy weight Ross “The Skull” May, who invariably opted to handle “security” matters for the party.
A photo of Mr Saleam wearing a Nazi uniform at a rally still haunts him. He told the Herald: “I was only infiltrating the Nazi Party to find out something about them. I was at the place where I was photographed because Robert Cameron told me that if I did not stay there, The Skull would bash me.”
Mr Saleam, despite his assuredness, has lived a long time with uncertainty. He has been convicted in more recent times of a fraud offence and spent about two weeks in jail, but he is appealing against the conviction. Perhaps inevitably, he said there has been a conspiracy against him.
See also : Dr James Saleam ~versus~ Good Weekend (August 3, 2010).