81,000 Sign Petition Calling For Gavin McInnes To Be Banned From Australia
Labor wants the federal government to ban Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes from coming to Australia, with an 81,000-signature petition being handed to parliament on Thursday.
McInnes is the founder of the Proud Boys, an alt-right "western chauvinist" group that admits only men, and appears to glorify violence.
The organisation has been classed a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Centre, and has been involved in heated street brawls during political rallies in the United States.
"We will kill you. That's the Proud Boys in a nutshell," McInnes once said on his internet talk show.
"We look nice, we seem soft... but we will assassinate you."
McInnes has also said on his show: "We need more violence from the Trump people, Trump supporters. Choke a motherf**ker. Choke a b**ch. Choke a tranny. Get your fingers around a windpipe.”
He has recently publicly distanced himself from the Proud Boys, and is planning to visit Australia in February for a speaking tour alongside controversial British activist Tommy Robinson.
The tour was originally planned for November, but has been delayed.
Labor's shadow immigration minister Shayne Neumann has previously called on the federal government to deny McInnes a visa to enter the country.
On Thursday, a change.org petition with 81,000 signatures supporting banning McInnes from Australia was handed to the office of immigration minister David Coleman.
"McInnes attempts to pass off, this violence incitement, as free speech. He is coming to Australia to recruit more supporters," said lawyer Nyadol Nyuon, who began the petition, at a Parliament House press conference on Thursday.
"We continue to respectfully call on the minister David Coleman to consider this record of violence incitement and the violence of the Proud Boys, to consider the classification of the FBI of the Proud Boys as an extremist group, and to consider the concerns of more than 80,000 Australians and not allow McInnes to come to Australia."
"We should not allow Australia to become the final refuge of extremist groups, some who think this place is their last hope."
A collection of Indigenous groups, community legal centres and equality organisations joined in support of the petition.
Labor MPs Andrew Leigh, Ged Kearney and Andrew Giles also attended the press conference and spoke in support of banning McInnes. Neumann had earlier met with the group behind the petition.
"We have a government here that spends a lot of time talking about visa cancellations, a lot of time talking about the character test. I think this petition, the voices of 81,000 Australians, presents a character test for the government," Giles said.
"It is important we stand up to protect those values of tolerance and diversity, that we embrace the great multicultural Australia," Leigh added.
The Department of Immigration has said it does not comment on individual cases.
Nyuon said that Coleman had written to her on Wednesday, outlining that while the government supports free speech, that those seeking a visa must satisfy the character test.