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Smith, Evan: ‘Between the bomb and the ballot box’: the history of the far-right in Australia

Smith, Evan

“Between the bomb and the ballot box”: the history of the far-right in Australia‘, Guardian Australia, 16 August 2016 updated

The return of One Nation (on steroids) provokes this useful run-down of Australian fringe groups over the last few decades. (Older Australians will remember some of the names with a shudder.) Most of them seemed to include the word ‘National’ in their titles and they were all probably the subject of interest from ASIO, which had moved on from thinking all threats came from crypto-Communists.

There is an interesting suggestion about the relative weakness of such groups in the last 15 or so years:

Many have argued that the shift by the Liberals after 2001 towards the right in terms of the discourse on “boat people” and the “war on terror” co-opted the rhetoric of the far right (and the appeal of One Nation) and toned it down for mainstream consumption. This, in turn, robbed the far right of its traditional support base.

Now, though, there is the resurgence of One Nation and the recent prominence of Reclaim Australia, which is close to One Nation on the spectrum. Such groups will be judging the relative merits of the ballot box and direct action.

Update 18 August: Essential pollster Peter Lewis, writing in Guardian Australia, looks at some survey data and argues One Nation has wider support in 2016 than its vote suggests