The Prime Minister has condemned “ugly racial protests” in St Kilda that were attended by an independent senator and organised by far-right extremists.
But Scott Morrison has stopped short of calling out independent senator Fraser Anning, who travelled from Queensland to attend the rally, despite a raft of high-profile politicians including Victorian Police Minister Lisa Neville condemning his actions.
Ms Neville said the Queensland senator’s decision to attend Saturday’s rally was a disgrace and that the event had revealed a group of people who rallied “under the banner of law and order issues” in Victoria to be neo-Nazis.
“We have people who have died to eradicate Nazis in the world and we do not tolerate that here in Victoria,” she said.
“No one in this state is able to get away with inciting violence or committing violence against other Victorians – if they attempt to do that Victoria police will be there and arrest you.”
Despite the tough rhetoric, only three arrests were made in relation to the event on Saturday: one in relation to possessing a dangerous article, one for drugs and one for bail-related offences.
Hundreds of police occupied the St Kilda foreshore to maintain the peace as close to 100 far-right activists clashed with 200 anti-racism protesters throughout the afternoon on Saturday.
Far-right activists were photographed making Nazi salutes towards the anti-racism protesters, while yelling slogans.
In response, protesters chanted “Nazi scum off our beach” and “Africans welcome, racists are not”.
The “Reclaim St Kilda” rally was organised by convicted criminals Blair Cottrell and Neil Erikson, who arrived with Mr Anning.
The Queensland senator recently sparked anger when he cited “the final solution” in his maiden speech, while his Twitter feed contains a litany of anti-African and anti-Islamic messages, as well as calls for the legalisation of weapons.
Mr Morrison took to social media to thank Victoria Police for their efforts, saying “intolerance does not make Australia stronger”.
“Australia is the most successful migrant country in the world,” he wrote Sunday morning on Twitter.
“This has been achieved by showing respect for each other, our laws and values and maintaining sensible immigration policies. Let’s keep it that way, it makes Australia stronger.”
Immigration Minister David Coleman also called out the racist conduct in St Kilda.
“There is no place for racism in our nation. We are the most successful multi-cultural society in the world, and we have achieved that by working together to build a stronger Australia,” he tweeted.
The racist conduct at St Kilda yesterday must be condemned in the strongest terms. There is no place for racism in our nation. We are the most successful multi-cultural society in the world, and we have achieved that by working together to build a stronger Australia.
— David Coleman MP (@DavidColemanMP) January 5, 2019
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said the PM should rule out support from Mr Anning in the upper house.
“The government should refuse to take Fraser Anning’s vote in the Senate after he has shown again he is unfit to be in the Parliament,” she tweeted Saturday night.
“Hanging out and supporting with neo-Nazi who are inciting violence is inexcusable.”