Members of Australia’s alt-right have been attempting to infiltrate the country’s major political parties, it has been revealed. The ABC’s Background Briefing program found that at least three members of the NSW Young Nationals have recently been involved with a private Facebook group known as The New Guard: an online community of self-described fascists who last year shared a manifesto declaring plans to influence and disrupt Australian politics.
Among the Young Nationals’ members who have been involved with The New Guard is Clifford Jennings, the party’s recently-elected Metro Regional Coordinator. A few months before the manifesto was distributed, Jennings took part in a discussion on the page about which non-white cultures should be accepted into Australia, to which he responded “Nothing must be accepted.” He has also previously stated on social media that “I view fascism as being in the interests of my blood”, and “I look at what it set out to accomplish and what it could have accomplished and I seek to replicate that.”
Along with Jennings, fellow party members Thomas Brasher and Oscar Tuckfield were also reportedly witnessed attending The Lads Society: a men’s-only fight club set up by prominent alt-right nationalists and frequented by the likes of United Patriots Front chairman Blair Cottrell. Explaining the reasons behind The Lads Society’s inception earlier this year, Cottrell—who has separately been convicted of inciting contempt against Muslims—said “No longer are we just going to sit on Facebook and complain about what’s going on, we’re actually going to rebuild an Australian community for ourselves.”
There have been some concerns that the nature of the group might cultivate radical or extremist ideologies, the ABC previously reported. Jennings has claimed that the only reason he regularly attends the fight meet-ups, however, is “to buy health supplements”.
In response to Background Briefing’s findings, the Young Nationals have announced that they will conduct an “urgent investigation” into the alleged infiltration of alt-right ideologues in their party. They have temporarily suspended processing new members while they do so. Jennings and fellow party member Lisa Sandford were also removed from the party, pending an investigation.
"Allegations regarding the infiltration of the NSW Young Nationals by 'alt-right' and/or 'far-right' persons or groups is of the [utmost] concern to the NSW Nationals," the party declared in a statement on Saturday." The rise of splinter groups that threaten to undermine our democracy are taken very seriously by the NSW Nationals and we declare that such radical ideologies have no place within our Party.
"The National Party rejects all forms of racism and hatred. Neither have any place within the NSW Nationals and our party will not become a battleground for forces that have no history, allegiance or understanding of our party."