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By John Huxley
December 13, 2005
ITS members sing Waltzing Matilda. Its flyers carry pictures of Blinky Bill. And its posters feature the starry cross of the 1854 Eureka uprising.
But don't be deceived, say its many critics. The Patriotic Youth League is a dangerous organisation, dedicated to promoting race hatred and deeply implicated in the Cronulla riots.
The shadowy league found itself in the spotlight yesterday after being identified, with the associated Australia First Party, as one of several neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups whose role in the events is being investigated by police.
"That, in fact, is something we're following up," the NSW deputy police commissioner, Andrew Scipione, told reporters. The league's spokesman, Luke Connors, admitted that its flyers demanding an end to multiculturalism were distributed by members in Cronulla. "But we only had 15 people there, of which 10 were girls and three their boyfriends. They joined in the chanting, but as soon as the scuffles began, they got out and went to the pub," said Mr Connors, 21.
The league was founded in 2002 by Stuart McBeth, a Newcastle University student. Mr Connors said financial members in Melbourne and Sydney probably numbered only 50.
The group denies it is neo-Nazi, although it has been linked with racially motivated attacks in Newcastle and with the white-supremacist group Volksfront.
"None of our members sympathises with Nazis," Mr Connors said. "We're just young blokes standing up for our own sort. That may not be politically correct, but we don't go beating people up for the hell of it."
Unlike his ally Mr Connors, Jim Saleam, NSW secretary of the Australia First Party, was in Cronulla during the riots, distributing party flyers calling for a crackdown on "refugees, contract labour, overseas students and illegals".
He accused the Police Commissioner, Ken Moroney, of being a "blue-shirted, multi-coated thug, a storm-trooper of the system" whose overreaction was more to blame for the violence than alcohol. Mr Saleam, who has been jailed for firearms offences, denied any neo-Nazi connections. "A neo-Nazi is not just anyone pissed off with immigration who stands up in public." While Mr Saleam insisted he did not hide from his accusers - "my name is in the telephone book" - most right-wing groups prefer the anonymity of the internet.
Yesterday, a group called White Sydney promised further violence to "protect" suburbs such as Parramatta, Auburn and West Ryde which, they claimed, had become safe havens for criminals.
"To be an Aussie is about looking out for your mates, protecting our beautiful land; and if ever something stops us enjoying our quality of life, we shall prevail over all ...
"To anyone who thinks they can overcome an Australian that has a fire in their belly and a passion to see our land remain exactly the same way it was when we entered into this world, you underestimate the ferocity we can create using our hands."
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