White Supremacists 'Not Welcome' In Nationals, Deputy PM Says
Dozens of Nationals members are under investigation for links to white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups, with party leader and deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack saying such views are not welcome.
An investigation by the ABC found the youth branch of the Nationals party had been infiltrated by members of various white supremacist or racist groups, part of a reported plan for people with such views to take over political parties from within.
On Monday, the Daily Telegraph advanced the original ABC story by revealing up to 35 people inside the party -- not just from the Young Nationals, but reaching as high as a federal minister's office -- were under investigation.
The newspaper claimed an internal Nationals dossier had documented "extensive" links to neo-Nazi, fascist and alt-right groups.
"We are now up to 19 we have a high degree of confidence in and we are investigating 35 people. It’s spread beyond the Young Nationals and we are looking at the National Party in general, including the metro branch," Nationals state director Ross Cadell told the Telegraph.
Some of the groups include an organisation that was born from a neo-Nazi message board which has plastered swastika stickers across various Australian university campuses, and an underground 'fight club' linked to past members of the United Patriots Front.
On Monday, McCormack tweeted a strong statement distancing himself and the wider party from such racist views.
"The Nationals will not tolerate extremism or the politics of hate. People found to engage with such radicalism are not welcome in our party," he wrote.
Queensland MP George Christensen has previously appeared on a podcast from one of the groups named in the Telegraph report -- The Dingoes, a self-described alt-right group that has spoken against Muslim immigration and supports a "nativist and homogeneous" Australia.
Christensen appeared on a Dingoes podcast in February 2017. He later apologised for that interview, after it was revealed the group had plans to Mike Enoch, a noted white supremacist and accused neo-Nazi, to Australia for an event called 'Dingo Con'.
The event's poster advertised an entry price of $88. The number 88 is a well-known code for white supremacist groups, with the eighth letter of the alphabet being H. Therefore, 88 stands for HH -- Heil Hitler.
On ABC radio's AM program in May 2017, Christensen said he did not support the group and that he regretted appearing on the podcast.
"They are extremely anti-Semitic, regularly make racial based slurs, and they subscribe to white nationalism. If I had known that, there is no way I would have done that interview," he said.
"[The Hitler reference] is just insanity... these people are anti-Australian. Parading someone who slaughtered six million people, who Australia was fighting against."