New, far-right, anti-Islam political party “AUSTRALIAN LIBERTY ALLIANCE” (ALA) officially launches on 20 October, 2015, having been approved for registration by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) on 29 July. It had well over the required 500 signed-up members and no objections were lodged (click here). Its core belief is that Islam is a totalitarian ideology with global aspirations, and will contaminate “the lucky country” with Islamic theocracy and sharia law.
• ALA is modeled on far-right anti-Islam movements in Europe.
• Its party manifesto says it stands for individual liberty, small government, Western Judaeo-Christian values, and integration over separation in terms of multiculturalism.
• It would remove Australia from the UN Charter of Refugees.
• It calls for a 10-year moratorium on resident visa applications from countries including Indonesia, Turkey, Afghanistan, Malaysia, Egypt, and many African and Middle Eastern countries.
• It would ban full-face covering in public spaces.
• Its anti-Islam push is supported by Coalition MPs including Cory Bernardi and George Christensen, Reclaim Australia, and the anti-Halal anti-mosque groups.
• Its directors are Debbie Robinson (also national president of the Q Society, and member of SION – Stop Islamisation of Nations), her husband Tony Robinson (a prominent Perth orthopedic surgeon), Andrew and Susan Horwood (Emmaline’s Country Kitchen, Adelaide) and Ralf Schumann (national secretary, based in Melbourne).
• Similar parties in the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Austria, France and Italy “are supported by millions [and] already poll in the 20 per cent bracket”.
Inflated fear of 2% of the population
An international Ipsos Mori poll in 2014 found that Australians (in general) dramatically overestimate the proportion of Muslims in the country, guessing them to make up 18% of the country’s population – far higher than their actual proportion of approximately 2%.
Could this over-estimate reflect over-inflation of the threat of invasion? Such lurking fear has a long history in Australia’s cultural consciousness (fear of communism, fear of invasion from the north), and I always wonder about it as a potential legacy of our collective memory of having invaded the country in the first place.
Such questions aside, I also wonder how approval from the AEC happened so quietly. Or, have I been asleep at my desk not to have previously been aware of this new party?
There are groups standing against the movement, but one major concern of “Voices against Bigotry“, for example, is that current Abbott-government politics create an environment in which ideas like those of ALA can flourish. Its international connections may also give it more ballast than previous far-right parties such as Pauline Hanson’s “One Nation“.
We can only work to resist yet another wave of ‘othering’ in the name of preserving some fictional construction of ‘the Australian way of life’..Joan Beckwith.