Greens Senator for Victoria Lidia Thorpe has criticized the Liberal government and its connections to the far-right, calling it “deeply disturbing.”
The comments come as Labor introduced a senate motion on Thursday asking the Parliament’s upper house to recognise “a significant increase in far-right extremism” while also condemning Coalition MPs George Christensen and Craig Kelly for “promoting a range of conspiracy theories and misinformation campaigns relating to COVID-19.”
The motion passed, but only after any mention to the Members for Hughes and Dawson were removed and references to the increase in far-right extremism was replaced with the statement: “Australia is one of the most successful multicultural countries in the world.”
Condemnation of the far-left, communism, anarchism and violence were also added.
Labor Senator Kristina Keneally who proposed the motion in the wake of a gathering of white supremacists in the Grampians on both Australia Day and International Holocaust Remembrance Day was left outraged at the amended motion.
“Today in the Senate, we saw the government literally white-out a motion about right wing extremism,” she said.
“They took out the references to white supremacy and white right-wing extremism. They sought to do a ‘whataboutism’ to an equivalence with groups like Antifa.”
In response to Keneally’s public damning of the far-right, Multicultural Affairs Minister Alex Hawke told Sky News on Thursday morning “the government rejects Senator Keneally’s thesis that there is rising extremism in Australia.”
“There is extreme elements, fringe elements in Australia that need tackling, they are being tackled. What we have here is increased social cohesion, not increasing extremism,” he said.
The Coalition’s rejection of rising right-wing extremism is at odds with both ASIO and the Australian Federal Police’s own reports of an increase in far-right terrorism, with ASIO revealing up to 40% of all counter-terrorism cases involving far-right violent extremism.
Speaking in parliament on Thursday Senator Lidia Thorpe said,” it is very disturbing to hear the comments people are making in this chamber – there is a deep division in this country that we are meant to be uniting.”
“It’s deeply saddening that we have a government who are so connected to the far-right, to the fascists, to the Nazi’s. It is deeply disturbing.”
“The far-right are a threat to everybody in the country. They represent hate. They represent violence and they don’t want to unite this country. They are not part of this country’s identity and nor should they be.”
Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe addressing parliament on Thursday.