RMIT students should come to the protest called by the Campaign Against Racism and Fascism (CARF) tomorrow, Saturday 20 November, to rally against the far-right marching in our streets.
November 20 marks the next in a series of marauding far-right demonstrations that have brought violence to the streets of Melbourne, including attacks on the CFMEU. The protests are promoted by the far-right group Reignite Democracy Australia, which recently formed an alliance with Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party. This movement is bringing together the hard right in Australia, and progressives have to respond. It is clear from media reporting and CARF’s investigations that hardcore fascists like Neil Erikson (former leader of the Lads Society), members of the National Socialist Network and the Proud Boys, have embedded themselves inside the so-called “Kill the Bill” movement and are spreading their Nazi propaganda. On the weekend, Craig Kelly hired a member of the now-defunct fascist Lads Society to act as his security detail.
In the last week, these protests have become more extreme with chants of “Kill Dan Andrews” at rallies and even a noose and gallows being brought out the front of the Victorian Parliament. The counter-protest has been called by the Campaign Against Racism and Fascism (CARF), a broad group of progressive activists and left-wing organisations. The counter rally has been called to draw public attention to the growth of conspiratorial, anti-human and fascistic politics promoted by these groups. The organisers of the so-called Freedom rallies in Australia are aligned with a global far right movement that is attempting to disguise its racist agenda behind the facade of being pro-choice. In reality, they stand against social solidarity and the frontline healthcare workers whose vaccination hubs these groups have attacked. They propagate disinformation about COVID public health measures to confuse people and spread fear as a recruiting tactic.
The presence of Trump flags and QAnon conspiracy theorists at these protests highlights a connection with the US far right, which has continued to grow and cohere over the course of the pandemic around anti-public health and reactionary demands. The likes of Craig Kelly, George Christensen and One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts would love to mimic right-wing Trump style politics here. To stand against this rising threat, we need as many people out on the streets as possible. Melbourne has traditionally been a city in which the far-right loses when it attempts to build its numbers. However, the willingness of far-right figures to put their supporters at risk by holding events during pandemic lockdowns means that they are now on the front-foot. We have to rebuild the antifascist cause, if we do that starting on 20 November, we can take back our city from the far right.
The CARF rally will not be seeking confrontation with the far right.
The protest will assemble at the 8 Hour Day monument on the corner of Russell and Victoria Streets, in Melbourne CBD from 12 noon.