'Neo-Nazis' Next Door: MP Urges Investigation Into Controversial Clubhouse
A controversial nationalist group has established a 'clubhouse' in Sydney's inner west, with local residents starting a protest movement and a state MP calling for police to probe the group.
The Lads Society, a group linked to former United Patriots Front leader Blair Cottrell, recently opened a location in Ashfield, west of Sydney's CBD -- a highly-diverse, historically multicultural suburb of Sydney, with high numbers of residents born in China, Nepal and India.
NSW state Member for Summer Hill, Jo Haylen, wants police to investigate the Lads Society for any criminal links.
“I’ve been contacted by many residents concerned that this group would exist at all, let alone in Ashfield," she told 10 daily last week.
"I’ve called on the Government... to show leadership, and for NSW Police and other agencies to investigate what is going on here in the interests of public safety. "
10 daily has contacted the Lads Society for comment.
Haylen has introduced a motion into the state parliament, calling for the chamber to note the "sexist, racist and neo-Nazi fascist underpinnings" of the group.
The Lads Society began in Melbourne, where it has a similar clubhouse south of the city. At both the Sydney and Melbourne locations, the group advertises a weekly "fight night", with online videos showing boxing matches between members.
"The link between The Lads Society and far-right nationalist groups and identities is clear and I’m concerned that the Thomas St premises have been used for the group’s weekly men’s only fight-nights," Haylen told 10 daily.
"I’m concerned about any group that is premised on hatred and division, especially when they have violent undertones. Ashfield is a success story in Australian multiculturalism. It’s a peaceful, diverse and vibrant community and residents won’t stand for racist, fascist groups that seek to divide us."
Footage and photos of the Melbourne location show a well-equipped gym, and walls draped with Australian flags.
It is said to contain a library and bar, and has run workshops for members on how to get jobs in the security industry.
"The purpose of this organisation was to build a community of young Australian men to provide job networking, mental and physical health, as well as an open space for communication," one of the group's leaders said in a Facebook video.
An article posted on a right-wing blog, which was praised and shared on the Lads Society Facebook page, calls the clubhouse "a general hangout for nationalists".
The group's leader said he had plans for clubs in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.
The Sydney clubhouse was established in April, but has come under scrutiny in recent weeks as a local residents' group, Ashfield Community Action, formed to oppose the Lads Society setting up shop in their suburb.
"Ashfield Community Action (ACA) has been set up by a network of locals who are concerned about the presence of far-right and fascist groups in our neighbourhood," the group said.
"We plan to share information about groups such as the Lads Society, with the goal of supporting action to shut down their fight club."
In a post on her Facebook page sharing the motion, one of the Lads Society leaders commented "thanks for the free advertising".