A rash of African gang violence plaguing Melbourne, largely spurred by young male Sudanese migrants, saw protestors converge in St Kilda on Saturday.
Their anger over the recent mob attacks and muggings was palpable and justified. But the presence of far-right extremists — some resorting to Nazi salutes — marred the message they should have been sending. To denounce violence and criminality.
Melbourne’s beaches, after all, should be safe for all Australians to enjoy. And we shouldn’t need a heavy police presence to make it so.
Queensland Senator Fraser Anning’s attendance at the protests has drawn widespread media attention and condemnation from both major parties.
Taxpayers will foot the bill of Anning’s return flights to Melbourne to attend the rally.
Anning’s version of events VS video evidence
Anning is adamant his attendance was only to represent his disapproval of the violent behaviour which his own state is experiencing, namely youths mugging innocent people, as AAP report.
He has said that those present at the rally were ‘ordinary working people’, as opposed to radicals or skin heads.
He even emphasised the falsity of claims that the rally was in any way right-winged, saying in a statement yesterday:
‘The truth is that attempts to claim that this rally was a ‘far right’ event appear to be left wing media attempts to distract attention from the purpose of the protest – African gang violence.
‘The only people who were doing Nazi salutes were the far left extremists one hundred metres away who came to try to disrupt a peaceful rally.’
But we, along with many others, find this quite hard to believe. Particularly coming from the mouth of a senator booted from one party after defecting from another, who is now running as an independent.
And it gets particularly concerning when multiple video uploads on Anning’s Facebook reveal him attending alongside convicted criminals Blair Cottrell and Neil Erikson. Cottrell and Anning are seen posing for photos and making provocative statements about migration.
Three people were arrested at the rallies. It’s unlikely any of them were ‘ordinary working people’.
No support for Anning from MPs
Anning’s attendance hasn’t been well received by fellow Aussie MPs.
Deputy Labor Leader Tanya Plibersek said to Sydney reporters on Sunday that his presence was ‘disgusting’, adding the inarguable claim that ‘Australians would be disgusted to think their taxes are paying for an Australian senator to attend an event which seeks to divide, not unite our country’.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg was equally as troubled by Anning’s weekend venture, telling reporters it ‘was unacceptable and he should not have participated in this divisive event’. He also pinpointed the Nazi salute, labelling it as ‘particularly repugnant and abhorrent’.
Independent Wentworth MP Kerryn Phelps thinks the rally was nothing more than a ‘demonstration by a neo-Nazi group’.
Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young went so far as to say government should refuse to take Senator Anning’s vote after his appearance at the rally.
Both Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Labor Leader Bill Shorten condemned the rallies on Twitter, with Morrison calling them ‘ugly racial protests’. However, both refrained from commenting on Anning’s involvement…probably because 280 characters isn’t enough to cover everything.
Morrison did, however, thank the multitude of Victorian police who handled the event, and calling out Australia as the most successful migrant country in the world. He said in a tweet:
‘This has been achieved by showing respect for each other, our laws and values and maintaining sensible immigrations policies.’
Unfortunately, such policies can’t keep troubling folks like Anning away.
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