Victoria Is Holding An Inquiry Into Far-Right Extremism, Including Links To Anti-Vax Groups

The Victorian Parliament is officially holding an inquiry into far-right extremism, as it fkn should.

Back in late 2021, the Greens introduced a motion to establish the inquiry. It was approved by the Legal and Social Issues Committee on Wednesday Feb 9th.

What will the inquiry investigate?

The inquiry will investigate a couple of major topics. One of the biggest will be the links between far-right groups and other forms of extremism, as well as the “radical populist right” and anti-vax misinformation groups.

It’ll also investigate how the pandemic has impacted the growth of far-right extremism in Victoria and how far-right groups recruit new members and communicate. The inquiry will explore some of the potential risks of far-right action, especially to the multicultural communities in Vic.

Similarly, it’ll look into the potential for violence in far-right movements, including possible targeted violence against public figures and politicians.

Phew. That’s a lot of big, important topics.

The inquiry is particularly prescient because of the growing violence of far-right groups and their connection to anti-vax groups.

Samantha Ratnam MLC, the leader of the Victorian Greens, said the inquiry was coming at an essential time.

“There should be no place for far-right extremism in Victoria,” she said in a statement.

“Yet at the beginning of last year, we saw white supremacists openly gathering in regional Victoria.

“And throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen these groups play into the genuine fears and anxieties of Victorians in an attempt to mobilise and grow their movement.”

Why is the inquiry needed?

There have been a couple of concerning far-right incidences in Victoria in recent years.

For example, a group of far-right extremists performed a ritual associated with the KKK at Grampians National Park during the January 26 weekend of 2021. The incident received widespread coverage and the extremists were believed to be part of far-right group the National Socialist Network.

There were 38 people involved and the ritual involved burning a cross. The group also intimidated locals and chanted racist slogans.

There have also been concerns about the far-right infiltrating anti-vax spaces, particularly in protests.

The announcement about the inquiry said reference the impact of COVID-19 on this trend.

“Throughout the pandemic many of these extremist groups have sought to exploit people’s genuine fears and anxieties about the pandemic to spread misinformation and cause deep division in our community,” it said.

Back in November of 2021, a man was charged after allegedly telling anti-vax protest attendees to “bring out rifles and shotguns” in an encrypted text.

The man also allegedly threatened Victorian Premier Dan Andrews.

“Someone need[s] to shoot Mr. Dan f— in the head with a .50 cal explosive tip! Just to make sure he[‘]s gone for life,” he wrote.

Victoria Police then also arrested a neo-Nazi who allegedly shared instructions on how to 3D print a gun.

Dr Josh Roose, a Senior Research Fellow in Politics and Religion at Deakin University wrote about the ties between the far-right and anti-vaxxers back in 2021.

“Far-right nationalists, anti-vaxxers, libertarians and conspiracy theorists have come together over COVID, and capitalised on the anger and uncertainty simmering in some sections of the community,” he wrote for the ABC.

“They appear to have found fertile ground particularly among men who feel alienated, fearful about their employment and who spend a lot of time at home scrolling social media and encrypted messaging apps.”

When will the findings of inquiry be released?

At the moment, the inquiry is scheduled to report on May 31 2022.