Neo Nazis clash with counter-protesters in Melbourne CBD
A group of neo-Nazis have clashed with anti-fascist counter-protesters on the steps of Victorian state parliament, with police intervening by using capsicum spray and making a number of arrests.
Members of a far-right group, who were dressed in black with masks covering their face, staged an anti-immigration rally in Melbourne's CBD starting on Saturday morning.
However, they were outnumbered by counter-protesters, some of whom hurled objects at the group after they performed Nazi salutes, leading to swift police intervention.
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While Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews moved to outlaw performing Nazi salutes following a protest in March, the change has not yet been legislated.
Many of the counter-protesters left to join a different rally in support of Palestine, the neo-Nazis were marched away from parliament by officers before dispersing.
The far-right protests were roundly condemned by both national and state political figures, with federal Energy Minister Chris Bowen calling the rally "unspeakably un-Australian".
"It's unacceptable. It's not on," he said.
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"This is pure and simple racism and neo-Nazism is pure and simple evil.
"It has no place in our country, it needs to be condemned and it is condemned by this government."
He continued to say the neo-Nazis were "political lunatics who have no place in modern Australia".
Victorian Opposition Leader John Pesutto, in a joint statement with deputy Liberal leader David Southwick, was similarly condemnatory.
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"The Victorian Liberals and Nationals condemn neo-Nazi thugs and their toxic bigotry and hate," the statement said.
"Australia has a proud history of an orderly immigration program where people from all backgrounds come together in shared liberal-democratic values.
"This sort of behaviour is completely unacceptable and against the values of an inclusive, tolerant and multicultural community."
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