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Political leaders condemn Grampians neo-Nazis

Aaron Bloch -

Political leaders across Australia have publicly condemned a group of far right-wing neo-Nazi extremists who gathered in the Grampians (Gariwerd) on Gundtijmara Country on January 24.

The group, identified as the National Socialist Network, travelled into the Grampians in rural Western Victoria, where they camped, hiked, rallied and spread rhetoric of white supremacy and anti-Semitism during their stay.

Up to 30 men were in the party, which were heard chanting by families at Lake Bellfield on the evening of January 24. It was alleged the group was shouting the phrases 'white pride', 'Ku Klux Klan', 'white power', and 'Heil Hitler'.

It's understood the men were displaying signs, wearing balaclavas and taking photos of themselves as part of the stunt.

The group of right-wing neo-Nazis who visited the Grampians in January. Photo Supplied.

Police spoke with the group, where it was ascertained that they were not breaking the law.

It is alleged the group has since made claims that they have suffered due to the lack of support for their stance.

Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton labelled the National Socialist Network a "lunatic" fringe group.

"I categorically condemn any such actions," he told SBS News.

Since the incident, Minister Dutton has requested the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security commence an inquiry into extremist movements and radicalisation in Australia, including right-wing extremism.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party also spoke out, describing the need to "take on hate wherever we see it".

"What is very clear is we need to constantly be vigilant against extremism and intolerance and racism in all its forms â€" I know our intelligence and law enforcement agencies are very seized of that issue," he told reporters.

While Minister Dutton and Minister Frydenberg both publicly commented on the incident, which brought national media and political attention, Prime Minister Scott Morrison did not.

A spokesperson from the Prime Minister's office told NIT the Prime Minister condemns the group's actions.

"The Prime Minister opposes terrorism and extremism in all its forms and absolutely condemns the activities of this group."

"Offensive and extremist displays such as that which occurred in Victoria are absolutely abhorrent and completely at odds with what Australia stands for," the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson also pointed to 20 tranches of national security legislation passed by the Federal Government to combat emerging threats such as right-wing extremism.

It's understood the Australian Federal Police and Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) have seen a steady rise in right-wing extremism in the last years, with ASIO reportedly now focusing 40 percent of its counterterrorism work on the issue.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has also condemned the group.

"There's no place for that kind of anti-Semitism in our State, no place for that sort of bigotry and hatred."

Greens Senator for Victoria Lidia Thorpe said in Parliament this week that Australia is facing "deep division", commenting on the current government's links to the far-right.

"It's deeply saddening that we have a government who are so connected to the far-right, to the fascists, to the Nazis. It's deeply disturbing," she said.

"The far-right are a a threat to everybody in the country. They represent hate. They represent violence. And they don't want to unite this country. They're not part of this country's identity and nor should they be."

By Aaron Bloch

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