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Issue #1906      March 9, 2020



A couple of weeks ago, the director-general of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) Mike Burgess delivered the annual threat assessment address in Canberra. In his address, Burgess highlighted that “in Australia, the extreme right-wing threat is real and it is growing. In suburbs around Australia, small cells regularly meet to salute Nazi flags, inspect weapons, train in combat and share their hateful ideology.” Furthermore, as a result of this threat, it was “clear that we will need to remain constantly alert to the enduring power and attraction of extremist messaging to those vulnerable to radicalisation.”

This assessment is a sobering one which reveals how much work needs to be done in order to reverse the trend of reactionary sentiment in our society, and it comes as a result of the field experience and investigating of ASIO officers. So how did Peter Dutton, Home Affairs Minister, react? By saying that it was his responsibility to make sure our security agencies are dealing with both “right-wing [and] left-wing lunatics.”

Left-wing lunatics? Was this some phrase or an approximation of something said by Burgess in his address? No. Nowhere in his speech was the phrase “left-wing” anything uttered. Then why did Dutton say it? There are a couple of reasons. Firstly, being from a “right-wing” party, it is not a good look to have your side of the ideological spectrum solely be tainted with the word “terrorism.” Deflection and diffusion is the immediate and knee-jerk response, and this is what Dutton did when he said that he “didn’t care whether they’re on the far right, the far left or somewhere in between.” Somewhere “in between”? Is there such a thing as “extreme centrism”?

The second reason, the more sinister reason, is that Dutton wants to prosecute those that will undermine the Morrison government’s agenda, and those are persons and organisations that constitute “the left.” Who is the left? According to Dutton, “you can use left-wing to describe everybody from the left to the right.” That is to say, anybody; anybody who poses a threat to their authority. This includes “Islamic extremism” which, according to the ABC, Dutton cited as an example of “left-wing terrorism” but offered no explanation for that claim.

However, while Dutton and co. love to throw around “Islamic extremism” in order to marginalise the Islamic community and promote “white” Australian hegemony we know this was a lazy attempt to distract from who Dutton was really referencing; Australian political forces who will oppose the government’s policies on climate change, refugees, tax cuts, discriminatory bills, etc. Case in point, according to the Guardian (UK), Matthew Noel, an engineering student rang Dutton’s ministerial office in Canberra, to get clarity on who the minister was referring to when he mentioned “left-wing terrorism.” According to Noel, a man named Mark who was an advisor for Dutton answered the phone and the conversation landed in a place where Noel ended up asking “Are you saying Extinction Rebellion are a terrorist group?” to which Mark replied, “yes.” Dutton’s office dispute Noel’s characterisation of the call instead saying that “when asked by the caller, the staff member advised that the group is an example of a left-wing extremist group, not a terrorist group.” Oh is that all! Extinction Rebellion (XR) is an extremist group! Even if this characterisation of the call is true, to qualify XR as an extremist group, whose goals are rather modest in terms of climate action, what does that make the rest of us? More specifically, what does this make the Communist Party of Australia?

It is only a matter of time before our party and others are branded extremists or terrorists for any opposition that we mount their heinous laws and legislation. We must act now, call out Dutton’s false equivalence, and make sure we highlight to the masses who the real enemies of the people are.

Next article – The sanctions kill, eye witness report!

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