Advance Australia Party’s open meeting was not exclusively for Nationalists, but welcomed so-called Patriots, or Civic Patriots, as well; usually in the admittedly naïve expectation, they might see the light and convert. The Civics’ ranks had exploded ever since the Lindt Café siege in December. But they all had it wrong.
It was hoped that finally, the message might penetrate — that treating Islam like the sole national threat while accepting a selective ‘diversity’ which excluded Moslems was cognitive dissonance; it was half an illumination.
The hall was at three-quarters capacity, but it was a big hall, and empty as it was, nonetheless it was the largest attendance in months. Above their heads, tired ceiling fans from a bygone era made their weary revolutions, to the comfort of none on this balmy weekday evening. Cliff gazed from the Southern-Cross draped lectern at the sea of mute faces below. They looked a lot like gulping mullets. Cliff was in his late fifties and those hard years mapped his face in lines. The median age was sixtyish with a few younger ones in their thirties. Multiply that by thousands in fish years.
It was not Cliff’s habit to leap to judgement on people, or in this case dumb fish, but he had been through the sewers since the explosion of what Nationalists called ‘the kosher movement’, which threatened to suffocate everything they had striven for.
Earlier, Dundee had expressed his concern that this unusual turnout was, in fact, a coordinated effort to disrupt the meeting and by doing so cause upset in the party. He sensed their enemies from the conservative camp were once again attempting an attack upon Nationalist cohesiveness.
Contradictorily, Cliff, despite his dismay at the less than receptive mugs gawping down below him, was a pragmatist. He knew the political necessity was to get these punters onside but he was well aware also that they posed a threat.
“Prior to this meeting,” he began, “many of you came up to me and privately expressed your concern about the presence of Islam in our country. This is the issue that brought you here tonight. You are certainly aware of the threat Islam poses to our Australian way of life. We all know that it’s the ambition of hard-line Islam to spread its caliphate to our shores. But why are they even here? You want to know what the Advance Australia Party is planning to do about it. You come to us for strategies.”
A few pairs of hands clapped. A hawk-browed middle-aged man up the back took pictures with his camera phone in a manner so casual as to appear conspicuous. Dundee stood to the side of the hall and gave him the once over. It was his job to keep an eye out for infiltrators. Walking over to him he leaned into his ear and quietly warned him that cameras were not allowed. The man nodded, pocketing his phone.
“A lot of you think that because Israel is the enemy of Islam it is, therefore, our friend but you have to ask yourselves why so many Moslems come here as refugees, to begin with.”
“Because they let their families come,” an unruly voice proffered from somewhere in the audience’s midst.
“Many of you are disillusioned with the mainstream parties, especially the Liberal Party which I’d say many of you voted for at one time or another. Many of you believe that not enough is being done to curb Moslem immigration into this country.”
“Hear hear,” yelled one man, others nodded, some clapped. An elderly woman in the front row thrust up her hand, eager to be heard.
“I’ll take questions at the end of the talk,” Cliff said. But the woman would not be perturbed and blurted out her question anyway.
“I’ve been reading some of your writings and I came here tonight special to ask you about that. A lot of what you have a go at is Jews. I don’t understand that because no people does more to combat Islamics than Jews. My father fought the Nazis. They all did, the diggers did. We fought to keep this country from becoming Nazis.”
An approving chorus greeted her outburst.
“You will note if you read our stuff properly, that we don’t indiscriminately attack Jews. But what we are saying is that the state of Israel has an active agenda in the Middle East, which generates the flow of immigrants coming to this country as refugees. When you understand it’s because of our unnecessary involvement in the wars that Israel makes in the Middle East…”
A dissenting murmur rippled through the back row.
“Bullshit!” yelled a voice from the back. “Youse are Nazis.”
Ignoring him, Cliff continued, “You must understand the satellites that operate in what we call the Civic Patriot movement all serve a common purpose which has nothing at all to do with Australia. The central problem is not one group, such as the Moslems, but all immigration. In fact, and we shall get to this, our greatest threat comes not from Moslems but from the Chinese.”
The crowd was angry now. One man lurched to his feet and argued, “No way! China knows how to deal with Moslems!
“Admit it, youse are Nazis. Everyone says you are. I came here to see for meself,” yelled another.
An angry party member turned in his chair and shouted, “Shut up! Let Cliff speak!”
“They call you Nazis too!” Cliff responded. “But that again is a misconception since Australian Nationalists are not concerned with the failed Imperialistic ambitions of a bygone German state. So, if I may continue. Nazi is just a slur upon us. We do not say that Islam is not a threat rather immigration as a whole is the real problem. And I repeat, the most serious menace we face comes from China, whose buying power has achieved more than Japanese guns ever did.”
“Asians fit in!” yelled another voice. “Moslems don’t. My girlfriend is Asian, are you saying I’m not a Nationalist because I’ve got an Asian girlfriend?”
Cliff stared contemptuously down at the young man in the peaked cap and tight ankle-freezers. His silence and expression confirmed the lad’s suspicions.
“Youse are Nazis, I told ya!” he yelled crossly. “There’s no difference between youse and Moslems because you just hate Jews!”
And with the disputing shaking of heads, eye-rolling, and scornful chatter, yet another Advance Australia meeting had failed to advance anywhere. Meanwhile, the man with the camera got up from his chair and slunk back into the shadows. Nobody had seen him enter, and nobody noticed him leave.
By Christopher Taylor