EVERY time ASIO boss Mike Burgess is questioned in Senate Estimates, the same senators ask the same questions and the same journalists file the same story. You surely know the one I mean: the ‘Growing Threat of Neo-Nazis.’ Primed by ‘national security’ hysteria and more gullible than ink-slingers of old, pressmen on the Estimates round either don’t notice or don’t care that one senator in particular – NSW Green David Shoebridge – is schlepping boilerplate. His agenda is to gaslight the nation into accepting that institutionalised left-wing extremism is now normative by diverting attention to politically irrelevant phantoms. He does this by putting Director-General Burgess into a position where he has to say something – anything, really – about Nazis. On Tuesday, he was at it again, asking why “only three” of 29 listed terrorist organisations are right-wing groups. This was exactly the same question he asked in February. It is no coincidence that an identical, entirely fake puzzlement was expressed by Shoebridge’s state senatorial predecessor, Kristina Keneally. During the pandemic, she too wanted to associate her enemies with an imaginary SS in the suburbs. As the statutorily obliged Burgess again pointed out on Tuesday, ASIO has no power to proscribe or even interfere with groups that don’t break the law or advocate violence.
Instead of calling out Senator Shoebridge for his tiresome grandstanding, newspapers and networks yesterday used his barren and inane queries in Senate Estimates as the basis for yet another ‘Nazi threat’ potboiler. This time, however, the best they could do was say that while “neo-Nazis” are tactically law-abiding, they are recruiting. As an outfit that never lets the disappointing truth stand in the way of oafish balderdash (see conspiracy theorist Sarah Ferguson on the Trump-Russia Hoax), the ABC took what Director-General Burgess said about the Voice referendum – to wit: that there were no known threats to its placid completion – and transformed it into a “chilling warning.” Were it not for two flaws in his testimony, I’d have a degree of sympathy for Burgess, given the inevitable verballing he is required to endure at Parliament House.
First, if inciting followers to commit violence is the threshold for ASIO’s intervention, why wasn’t action taken against Lidia Thorpe for advocating a race war on Australia Day (while brandishing a club)? Second, South Australian Liberal senator Alex Antic asked Burgess in Estimates if ASIO was aware of threats from “violent” trans activists. His breezy reply: “Not from my perspective.” If the menacing mobs that assailed Kellie-Jay Keen at her ‘Let Women Speak’ rallies weren’t violent, why were dozens of regular and mounted police mobilised to guard participants? Was she not assaulted in New Zealand? Is the Director-General not aware of the Covenant School massacre in Memphis several weeks ago and the increasing number of transgender-involved crimes being committed in the United States? Has he not argued in relation to Australian right-wing extremists that they are inspired by ideologically motivated violence overseas? Finally, is he aware that the United Nations has now intervened in defence of Moira Deeming? Special rapporteur on violence against women and girls Reem Alsalem has strongly condemned “the frequent tactic of smearing women, girls and their allies as ‘Nazis’ and ‘extremists’.” If the UN can see the danger of both left-wing trans-fanatics and fatuous nazi-mongering, ASIO certainly should.