That was interesting.
Having previously blessed Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide with her presence, the fifth leg of Posie Parker’s publicity tour took place in Melbourne on the steps of the Victorian Parliament on Saturday. Along with a posse of fans, Parker was joined by two other groups. On the one hand, under the rubric of taking ‘A Stand To Protect The Children’ and ‘Against The Moral Decay of Australia’, there were a number of so-called ‘cookers’ (AKA the remnants of the anti-lockdown and anti-vaXX movements in Melbourne) and, on the other hand, neo-Nazis belonging to the National Socialist Network (NSN). The rally was also the subject of a counter-protest but — using tried and tested methods — Victoria Police was successful in preventing the malcontents from disrupting the anti-trans gathering.
I say therefore, it is by their fruit that you will know them.
The sight of several dozen neo-Nazis parading in front of Parliament has disturbed many, and various statements have been made in response, including by Victorian premier ‘Dictator Dan’, the federal member for Melbourne Adam Bandt, the Jewish Labor Bund and numerous others. It’s also meant that Parker and her entourage — which on this occasion included Liberal MP Moira Deeming and failed Liberal candidate Katherine Deves — have been forced to deny their association with far-right politics and, further, to distance themselves from the neo-Nazis who joined them (behind police lines) in the anti-trans chorus.
Curiously, the NSN is repeatedly described as the NSM in media reportage. For example, the Star Observer (Neo-Nazis, Far-Right Turn Up At UK Anti-Trans Activist Kellie-Jay Keen’s Melbourne Event, Shibu Thomas, March 18, 2023): ‘Neo-Nazi groups have increasingly targeted LGBTQI events. Last year, [n]eo-Nazi Thomas Sewell and his National Socialist Movement targeted a youth festival featuring drag performances. The group also protested outside the Victorian Pride Centre, which was scheduled to hold an event with drag performances.’ In this context it should also be noted that, while the NSN did indeed disrupt ‘a youth festival featuring drag performances’ in October last year, and while they promised to and promoted the rally, they did not in fact attend the Centre in December: a responsibility assumed on behalf of The Women of Australia by a handful of local Proud Boys. It’s also somewhat remarkable that, inre the NSN, none made reference to Nick McKenzie’s article ‘Soldiers of hate: Army investigates neo-Nazis in its ranks’, which was published on Saturday and which details links between the NSN, law enforcement and the armed forces. Inter alia, McKenzie writes:
In Victoria, highly active NSN member Nathan Bull, 21, is the son of a Victoria Police officer who is currently on extended leave and who failed to declare his son’s neo-Nazi activities.
The force declined to comment on the police officer, whom this masthead is not naming for legal reasons, but said in a statement: “While we know people can’t choose their family, the policy outlines what relationships must be declared to ensure any actual or perceived risks are managed.”
Bull is a frequent participant in NSN training events and has also posted NSN propaganda on encrypted platforms, recently encouraging neo-Nazis to disrupt a queer youth event at the Victorian Pride Centre.
Bull — along with his fuehrer Tom Sewell and Caulfield nazi sticker guy Jim Roberts — was maskless on Saturday (and failed to attend the Centre in December), but did more recently find the time to squawk at a Community Union Defence League stall in the city. Of course, the fact that Bull’s father is police raises a number of interesting questions, especially in light of some of the criticisms they’ve received for being too violent in preventing any interruption to the rally: say, by repeatedly kneeing a prone man in the head.
Be that as it may, the boys carried a big fat banner on the day reading ‘Destroy Paedo Freaks’. While the slogan may be crude, it’s also an honest expression of intent: given other, recent events, it’s important to appreciate this. Further, this violent rhetoric reflects (or rather repeats) the gendered and sexual anxieties expressed rather infamously by neo-Nazi organisation ‘Antipodean Resistance’ (AR) which, after its collapse in 2019, merged into the NSN (see : From Antipodean Resistance to the National Socialist Network, November 29, 2020). As well as being born on Iron March — the same forum that gave birth to the proscribed neo-Nazi terrorist organisations National Action, Atomwaffen and Sonnenkrieg Divisions — AR also produced Jacob Hersant: another middle-class prat who, in turn, produced the NSN manual (and has functioned brilliantly well as the NSN’s #OpSec Guy). Of the manual, Nick McKenzie and Joel Tozer (Inside Racism HQ: How home-grown neo-Nazis are plotting a white revolution, The Age, August 16, 2021) write:
A leaked copy of the network’s internal manual includes a chapter about “methods to maintain the anonymity of activists” which instructs members to “live a double life online”. It directs them to set up fake identities on encrypted platforms and warns against leaving any “little bits of information” for “journalist detectives”.
Discerning the difference between serious calls to violence and mere violent rhetoric and hate speech is almost impossible in this environment. When one member messages on Telegram about regional towns attracting migrants, another responds: “Where’s Tarrant when you need him?”
For his part, NSN member David Hiscox defends the group’s presence at the rally on his blog, XYZ, boasts of their role in helping Victoria Police ensure that Parker’s publicity stunt went smoothly, and argues that:
This highlights a key benefit of NSN’s attendance at today’s event as outlined by Sewell. At previous events, normies have quite rightly required police protection from extreme left terrorists. However, Thomas Sewell’s men can more than handle themselves. As demonstrated by an earlier video, 20 nationalists stood easily against 300 Antifa. The police were essentially protecting Antifa from themselves, knowing full well they would have fared second best had they initiated violence against the peaceful protestors. Thus NSN are reclaiming the public space from the far left. Ordinary people now hold the protestors’ veto, as demonstrated by the cancellation of a drag queen groomer show in St Kilda in December 2022.
While David’s phantasy of 20 neo-Nazis taking control of the streets of Melbourne is mildly amusing, he’s correct to note that, seemingly following police advice, the event at the Victorian Pride Centre was indeed cancelled at the mere threat of the NSN attending. Further, in conceiving of the NSN as a vanguard, tasked with protecting figures like Posie Parker (and whichever other ‘normies’ want to join the NSN in denouncing the transgender and other communities), the piano teacher is echoing the role that the ‘United Patriots Front’ assigned itself in 2015–2016. In this sense, the NSN can be interpreted as representing the culmination of many years of organising by the far-right: the formation of a militant, neo-Nazi cadre (for a useful summary, see : The Rise of the Fascist Cadre: Shifts in Far-Right Organising in Australia, Jordan McSwiney, C-REX: Center for Research on Extremism, May 18, 2021). However, one key difference between the UPF and the NSN is that, while for tactical reasons the UPF disavowed any ‘Nazism’, the NSN is out and proud. In other words, like David, they think that Australia, and especially Melbourne, now constitutes a ‘safe space’ for their public performances (even if, as on Saturday, the boys were reinforced by large numbers of police).
Finally, it’s also worthwhile recognising that, while The Boy From Balwyn and his gang have obtained some smol degree of notoriety in Australia for their antics (Tom Sewell’s conviction for assault and Patmore’s conviction for various offences are among some of the most recent), they’re part of an international neo-Nazi network which thrills to his and their performances. Further, Christian nationalists in the United States operating the GiveSendGo crowdfunding site have been eager to support their Antipodean kameraden in raising funds, and tens of thousands of dollars have been donated to the neo-Nazis as a result. Currently, some of these funds are being raised in order to financially support Tim Lutze’s Legacy Boxing Gym in West Sunshine, the chief operating base for the NSN in Melbourne.
Law & Order
It’s been suggested in some quarters that police may have been a little too vigorous in policing the event on behalf of Parker’s fans, cookers and the neo-Nazi mob. Given sufficient attention, this may even force police to initiate an investigation before eventually clearing themselves of wrong-doing. Certainly, images of police being naughty are an inconvenience, especially when they’re perceived to be undertaking such actions in order to ensure that, in the immortal words of Australia’s former attorney-general George Brandis, ‘people have the right to be bigots’. In fairness to Professor Brandis, I should add that it’s unclear if, in theory, his commitment encompasses ‘the right of neo-Nazi fans of the Christchurch killer to parade around a city home to the largest population of Holocaust survivors per capita outside of Israel while engaging in transphobic and homophobic abuse’ but, in practice, on Saturday police made their own answer to this question abundantly clear.
Of the policing of the neo-Nazi presence at the event, Melbourne Activist Legal Service (see : Statement of Concern: Policing of opposing anti-trans & trans rights rallies, March 20, 2023) writes:
At 11:40am, just prior to the CARF/NUS group arriving at the Parliament precinct, a group of approximately 20 people known to be members of the neo-Nazi National Socialist Network (NSN) had been permitted by police to enter Spring Street and made a formation facing north across the street, making a series of ‘Sieg Heil’ hand salutes and holding up a threatening and offensive banner. MALS has observed that chants of “kill paedo freaks” were simultaneously being yelled at the trans rights protestors. These actions were clearly intended to provoke and incite the group of arriving trans rights protesters. MALS did not observe any attempts by police to prevent, intervene in, or restrict the actions of this group.
Police instead focused their attention on the CARF/NUS group and established a cordon with multiple police members and the mounted unit facing them. It was at 12.03pm that the first use of OC spray was observed.
At approximately 12:17pm the neo-Nazi NSN group moved in formation up the Parliament House steps to stand in a highly visible and central location on the steps and continued to make ‘Sieg Heil’ salutes.
At 12:49pm, over an hour after they had first arrived, police arranged to escort the NSN group away from Parliament House, moving south along Spring St. However, in doing so, they allowed the group to march towards and along the perimeter of the trans rights protestors, while still making ‘Sieg Heil’ salutes and chanting obscenities at the trans rights group. This decision to escort the group towards and directly in front of the trans rights protestors predictably increased tensions and aggravated protestors. Legal observers noted multiple uses of force, including excessive force incidents against trans rights protesters directly related to this decision. OC spray was used at trans rights protesters again at this point.
Following last year’s swastika ban, noises have now been made about criminalising the use of the Nazi/’Roman’ salute. If this proceeds, neo-Nazis will presumably adopt some other gesture, while others — including those tasked with enforcing the law — will remain at liberty to employ the ‘OK’ symbol, whether at mining conferences or at anti-trans rallies.
Welcome to the Australian TERF Club
For so-called ‘trans-exclusionary radical feminists’ (TERFs), the public display of neo-Nazi support for Parker’s anti-trans crusade has the potential to create political difficulties but, with effort, these can likely be overcome. Leaving aside the fact that — in line with what radical feminist Andrea Dworkin termed ‘biological sex essentialism’ — Parker prefers to be known as a ‘femalist’ rather than a ‘feminist’, like other right-wing grifters, she’ll soon bugger off (in this case, back to her mansion in Blighty) and leave others to pick up the pieces. A ‘controversial’ figure, Saturday’s events have forced at least some, otherwise supportive feminist organisations, to distance themselves from her crass opportunism and idiotic self-promotion. Woman’s Place UK, for example, has felt compelled to issue a statement explaining that:
Women are not responsible for the actions of men or those who want to use the concerns women have for their own political ends. However, the presence of neo-Nazis at women’s rights events is a wake-up call to the need for explicit differentiation between women organising in defence of our rights and those far-right actors who seek to exploit this organising. As a political campaign we believe we have a responsibility to reaffirm our position.
Previously, another statement attributed to ‘Feminist Left Australia’ (an anonymous group that believes that ‘feminists should not work with the right’) and titled ‘Are you thinking of going to Kellie-Jay Keen’s events in Australia or NZ? Read this first’ noted that:
• The Standing for Women Australian tour is sponsored by right-wing organisation CPAC (Conservative Political Action Coalition/Conference)
• KJK is happy to be interviewed on right-wing media channels
• People from across the far-right spectrum are increasingly attending and speaking at her rallies
• KJK supported Trump in the US election
• KJK says she is not a feminist. She opposes transgenderism from the position of someone who holds very traditional [sic] family values
• KJK has made racist comments targeting Muslim communities
• She has built a brand and a career out of this movement
In this context, it’s worth noting that, apart from conforming with the organisation’s Weltanschauung, CPAC’s involvement in Parker’s publicity tour is supplemented by the role of Christian nationalist David Pellowe, its operations manager.
You may remember Pellowe from such events as the 2018 Australasian tour of alt-right propagandists Stefan Molyneux and Lauren ‘The Great Replacement’ Southern. Southern’s promotion of the thesis — later adopted by the Christchurch killer to justify his mass murder of 51 Muslims — was no barrier to her permanently transitioning to Australia, or to being promoted to a role as a regular commentator on Sky News Australia. You may also remember that Pellowe hired members of the defunct neo-Nazi grouplet ‘The Lads Society’ to act as security on the tour. And, as I noted on Twitter:
Lie down with dogs …
In my view, even if, as seems likely, Moira Deeming is (somewhat cynically) expelled by Pesutto’s Liberals and a new law is introduced to criminalise pro-Nazi displays, the temporary embarrassment created by the spectacle of sieg heiling neo-Nazis joining with Parker & Co. will fade and — in the unlikely event she’s less active in future — another grifter will indubitably take her place. As Richard Cooke noted in 2017 of another right-wing troll, ‘In so many ways, Milo Yiannopoulos is unremarkable. He is just one of a long line of conservative grifters making hay in Australia’, Australia’s welcome mat for right-wing trolls is a permanent fixture on the political landscape, and Australians remain easy marks. Of more immediate relevance, perhaps, is the battle for control of the Victorian Liberals, to which large numbers of ‘Good Godly’ Christian nationalists and other, similar forces are being recruited and deployed in order to evict whatever remnants of liberalism remain within it.
See also : Anti-trans rally speakers are falsely claiming neo-Nazi supporters were undercover police, trans activists, Cam Wilson, Crikey, March 20, 2023 | Immigration reviews entry for anti-trans activist Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull, Chris Hipkins comments, Katie Harris, New Zealand Herald, March 20, 2023 | How Transphobic Moral Panics Fuel Authoritarian Politics, Fran Amery and Aurelien Mondon, Jacobin, March 13, 2023:
No one should therefore be surprised about the growing links of mainstream transphobes with far- and extreme-right groups, their collusion in certain conspiracy theories, or to see them participate in demonstrations together. This is not a bug, but a feature. The far- and extreme-right support of mainstream liberal transphobia is a logical step, for it not only builds on the same methods of exclusion, but legitimizes many of the Right’s own talking points and opens the field to further processes of exclusion, including eugenics.