The fifth column

The fifth column

I have a lot of respect for Mimmie Watts. At first, when she said that there was a small group with an extremist agenda in the Liberal Party, I wasn’t sure that I believed her. I’ve had academic training, I know what happens diplomatically on the ground overseas and I don’t consider myself at all politically naïve. But is Mimmie right?

My investigation started by following rabbit trails in the Western Metro area. Straight away I began to uncover a lot of evidence. In the lead up to the 2018 State Election there were a number of candidates who were disendorsed or who stood down under a cloud. Similar issues continued to manifest themselves in the lead up to the 2019 Federal Election.

While most of these candidates shared similar views on Islam and other social conservative issues, what really tied them together was who had recruited them and how they wound up being candidates. There was small core in the Party responsible for promoting these failed candidates.

As I began to dig deeper, I found it was easy to find information, not just from facebook, but from real life stories and connections that tied certain people with extreme figures like Dia Beltran, Neil Erikson and The Unshackled website.

Then I found out about a facebook messenger group that had the initials HH. By now I was joining the dots. The same people on the Liberal Seats Committee were running this group. Some troubling people who had connections to extremism were right here. In one example, I was startled to discover that one person running for a federal preselection was heavily involved in The Unshackled himself. Apparently he was connected to a very concerning extremist group who camped near Halls Gap. I’ve been told that the issue had even been raised at State Assembly! There are records that this person was being groomed by the chair of the Seats Committee.

Another active person in the Maribyrnong electorate has a very sinister past. Now I am wondering what is going on? I am sure Senator Jim Molan would be shocked to know who these people are as he was the guest speaker at a Zoom meeting organised by them. I am not sure why some of these characters have connected themselves with Bernie Finn so I am prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt, but my question is, since most of this is not hidden and some of it is already in the media, what are we as a Party going to do about it?

There are several witnesses to anti-Semitic or strong racial overtones being expressed in enclaves within the Party. For example, one candidate for one State seat I am reliably informed made some anti-Semitic comments to another Party member. This is not an isolated incident. Even stronger are views being expressed about Black and Asian people as well as very offensive ideas about minorities and in particular LGBTQIA+ people.

I can understand Mimmie Watts’ frustration. What astounds me is the most central figure in this grouping doesn’t personally hold to these views. She is really the opposite of these views, yet somehow supports people who have these views. When Mimmie was running for the Senate, I have to say it was also surprising these people were supporting Kyle Hoppitt. At the last State Council I know these people were supporting Robert Clark. Realistically, I would like Robert Clark to publicly distance himself from these extremists.

A close associate of these people was caught several times in 2018 saying that he was a fascist. This Liberal Party member said that he was aware of at least four others with stronger views who were Party members in his State electorate. Most of these were not Young Liberals.

I’ve had some deep discussions with a Party member who says he was “a bit alt-right” and went to Future Leaders training sessions. He said he used to be involved with the National Party, was with multiple alt-right websites, and had something to do with David Pellowe. He says that he met ————— at the Future Leaders Program who introduced him to Daryl Minter, Kyle Hoppitt and Moira Deeming. Soon after he was recruited into —————’s group.

He said that he knew that ————— had previously been a political candidate and was connected with the leadership committee of the Party.

Apparently ————— would seek out promising young people and invite them to exclusive retreats. He apparently was targeting young people in the Western and Northern metro areas. He was looking for people to run for seats in the 2018 and 2019 elections.

————— was very eager to meet this young person, and they swapped contact details. The member told me that he had respect for ————— because he ran a successful business, and had some clout with people in the Party including funds leading back to another member. ————— was a big supporter of ultra-conservative women, and also supported a female Young Liberal who was involved in an internship program in an MP’s office.

I asked the member what happened with —————. He says he dropped out of contact with that group after he shifted into my electorate. He showed me his whatsapp messages where he signed “88”, a common alt-right signal I am told.

I believe that there is something going on. I have seen too much evidence.

On a positive note, I see a ray of hope with Graham Watt and his affirmation of sensible conservative values. I would like to wish him and Rachel the best for their future together.

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