Australia: Controversy over race-hate music festival

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Australia:

Controversy over race-hate music festival

On 17 April 2010 a white supremacy group in Queensland organised a race-hate music festival on the Gold Coast. The city’s mayor, Ron Clarke, as well as multicultural community groups said that the best defence to such marginal, fanatical groups would be a deaf ear.


When flyers for a white pride music festival, ‘Hammered’, started circulating on the Gold Coast, a popular surfing beach and a tourist area on the Australian east coast, local citizens turned to the city’s council to have the event stopped.

But Gold Coast mayor Ron Clarke’s said: “Unless those groups are specifically banned or prohibited by the state or Commonwealth governments for any reason, we have no grounds whatsoever to stop them. We would have our pants sued off us if we tried.”

His advice was to ignore the event: “It’s best not to be antagonised by them. Most of us don’t appreciate their stance at all, but the best way to treat them is not to give them much attention,” he told the newspaper Sydney Morning Herald.

Secret location
Promoted as the first event of its kind, featuring ‘international guests, Ravenous, and Open Season’, the Saturday gathering was organised by the Queensland chapter of the Southern Cross Hammer Skinheads alongside the international neo-Nazi group Blood and Honour but very little else was known about it. Blood and Honour is a global skinhead network which was banned in Germany in 2000 for spreading Nazi messages.

The flyers and posters advertising the Queensland event did not name the venue. Anyone who was interested in going was merely told to email an organiser named Tattooed Aryan. That person would then arrange to pick them up and take them to a secret location. Sponsored by the Gold Coast neo-Nazi group Crew 38, the music festival was held on private property

Gold Coast police monitored the event and said it passed without incident but they wouldn’t be interviewed about it and they would not say exactly where it took place. They also would not comment on how many people turned up.

Best ignored
Ian Muil, executive manager of Ethnic Communities Council of Queensland, agreed with the Gold Coast mayor on his strategy. Ian Muil told Sydney Morning Herald the groups were so marginal they were best ignored by the public:

“It is a minority who have got a highly inflammatory and sensationalist point of view, which most people do not engage in. They are actually a very small, troublesome and ugly part of society. It is a dog barking in the night… best ignored.”

“There are anti-discrimination laws but that relates to specific comments, placards and things like that so it is a tricky one at law,” Gold Coast superintendent Jim Keogh told media.

Could be unlawful
Dr Tamara Walsh, a senior lecturer in law at the University of Queensland, said, however, that a white supremacist event could be unlawful under Queensland legislation.

The Sydney-based human rights lawyer George Newhouse said there may be recourse for offended parties under the Australian Racial Discrimination Act, which outlaws public acts that offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person on the basis of race, colour, national or ethnic origin.

“It would seem to me that this is an act that might well insult, humiliate or intimidate another person on the basis of their race, colour or ethnic origin,” George Newhouse said. “To suggest that a music festival was not a public act would to me suggest a very strange interpretation of the Act.”

Better off knowing about them
Sociologist Alec Pemberton from the University of Sydney said Australians should be worried about the group’s activities:

“These are white supremacists and they’ve actually been engaged in other countries in real acts of terror. [Oklahoma bomber] Timothy McVeigh and people like that, they’re along those lines. My point would always be, you are better off knowing about them, knowing where they are, what’s going on, than having them undercover and underground.”



Australia

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Search: “Gold Coast” + “Hammered”

Sources

Australian Broadcasting Corporation, ABC News – 20 April 2010:

‘Neo-Nazi festival outrages Gold Coast locals’

Brisbane Times – 19 April 2010:

‘Neo-Nazi music festival goes ahead without incident’

Sydney Morning Herald – 6 April 2010:

‘Race-hate group should be ‘ignored’ ‘

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