Australia PM condemns domestic neo-Nazi activity following Sydney incident on Australia Day News
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Australia PM condemns domestic neo-Nazi activity following Sydney incident on Australia Day

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese condemned on Saturday domestic neo-Nazi activity after a group of masked men boarded a Sydney train on Australia Day. Three police operations into neo-Nazi demonstrations were conducted across Sydney over the weekend amidst a recent rise in neo-Nazi, antisemitic and extremist right-wing incidents.

On Friday morning, about 61 men masked in all-black, balaclavas and sunglasses boarded a train at Artarmon. The group was seen carrying several items, including banners and shields while chanting and waving the Australian flag.

New South Wales (NSW) police confirmed in a statement that at 11:30 am on Friday, local police became aware of a group of disguised people boarding a train at Artarmon, Sydney. Officers from North Sydney Police Area Command collaborated with the Public Order Riot Squad and Police Transport Command to intercept the group upon their arrival at North Sydney railway station.

After containing the group to a few carriages, while members of the public vacated the area, members of the group were individually removed for their details to be collected and to be issued a move-on order. This order is a direction given by a police officer that requires a person to leave a public place upon grounds of “obstruction, harassment, intimidation or fear” to others.

Six people were initially arrested and taken to Chatswood police station for further inquiries, while 55 others were issued rail infringement notices for offensive behaviour. Two men have since been released and issued infringement notices.

Anthony Albanese responded to the events at a doorstop interview on Saturday, stating that he was “horrified” by the images of the group.  Albanese went on to say that engaging in neo-Nazi activity “has no place and it is rightly being condemned by all decent people.”

NSW Premier Chris Minns joined Albenese in condemning the activity. In an online post, Minns stated “hate speech and white supremacy has no place in NSW and it will not be tolerated.”

NSW police were called to address two other neo-Nazi gatherings over the weekend.

A group of disguised men gathered on Saturday evening at the North Turramurra train station, where officers apprehended the group and removed them from the station. The gathering was “contained” and not a “threat to public safety,” said NSW Police.

Officers then contained a group of at least 20 masked men congregated at Artarmon Reserve on Sunday morning. The operation at Artarmon concluded around 12:00pm.

The incidents occurred just weeks after the federal legislation criminalizing the public display of terrorism and terrorist group symbols came into effect on January 9.  The legislation was enacted following a recent spike in antisemitic, neo-Nazi and extremist right-wing incidents.

Albanese noted the recent rise in these activities, acknowledging the repeated warnings from the Australian Security Intelligence Organistion (ASIO), Australia’s domestic security service.  The prime minister emphasized the importance of looking always “for unity, for hope, for optimism, not hatred and fear.”

Minns has indicated an openness to examining whether state anti-vilification laws need to be strengthened:

We are looking at the laws and examining them to make sure that overt Nazi gestures and symbols are outlawed in New South Wales, and we’ll make sure that the people of New South Wales are safe and we protect the tenants of our multicultural, harmonious community.

Minns told reporters that the state is prepared to move further and that he will be speaking with NSW police and the attorney-general to determine next steps.