Protests by right-wing groups over vaccine mandates have seen a rise in extremist behaviour, with death threats carried out against politicians, writes Bilal Cleland.
IN MELBOURNE over several days, "freedom" protesters carried nooses and a mobile gallows to the front of Parliament House and one protester said she looked forward to seeing Victorian Premier Dan Andrews "dance on the end of a rope".
Anti-terror detectives charged two men on 18 November with incitement over threats to the Premier and MPs.
Saturday 20 November saw anti-vaccination, anti-emergency powers demonstrations in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Hobart, Perth and Brisbane.
In Brisbane, mining billionaire Clive Palmer, the main backer of the United Australia Party, and MP Craig Kelly said at the rally he'd rather "go out of business" than listen to vaccine advice from Queensland's Premier - who he called "Palachook".
The anti-vaccine protests were already extreme enough in Western Australia for the Premier to close his electorate office, due to threats of rape against his staff and the bombing of his office.
The decline of the Liberal Party from its traditional conservatism into a supporter of radical reactionary politics in this protest movement is dangerous.
The weak statement of the Prime Minister created great concern.
Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers tweeted:
Terrorism is a real danger.
A terrorist act in our law is an act, or a threat, that intends to coerce or influence the public or any government by intimidation to advance a political, religious or ideological cause and causes, amongst other examples, death, serious harm or danger to a person.
The Christchurch massacre is an example.
The annual threat assessment 2021 by ASIO stated that ideological extremism takes up some 40 per cent of its current caseload.
According to the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), QAnon is part of that threat:
Not all those taking part are QAnon. The wellness industry has contributed substantially to the number of protesters.
However, the BBC Anti-disinformation Unit warned in 2020 that the anti-vaccination and the QAnon conspiracy theories are merging.
It noted that these groups also have a money-raising function.
Josh Roose of Deakin University recalls that Victoria police warned a parliamentary inquiry into extremism:
The theory has penetrated quite deeply into Australia.
There may also be votes to harvest from the 10 per cent who resist vaccination against the virus, but if this comes at the cost of fomenting domestic terrorism, it is too high.
Bilal Cleland is a retired secondary teacher and was Secretary of the Islamic Council of Victoria, Chairman of the Muslim Welfare Board Victoria and Secretary of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils. You can follow Bilal on Twitter @BilalCleland.