We, as a community, must take the rise in rightwing extremism seriously. We, as a parliament, must take the rise in rightwing extremism seriously and it is incumbent on the government – and especially the government – to take the rise in rightwing extremism seriously.
Lives depend on it, as the Christchurch massacre – which was perpetrated by an Australian – so tragically demonstrated and yet the Morrison government has not been taking rightwing extremism seriously. Not by a long shot.
In February of this year we had the immigration minister contradicting Asio and, without evidence, asserting that there had been no rise in rightwing extremism at all.
In January of this year, following the extreme rightwing attack on the US Capital, the prime minister refused to condemn – or offer even the slightest criticism – of the outgoing US president Donald Trump for Mr Trump’s role in inciting the attack.
And worse – the prime minister of Australia refused to even comment on, let alone criticise, social media posts by members of his own party that peddled dangerous rightwing conspiracy theories about the attack on the US Capitol.
This is the same prime minister who is now refusing to answer questions about his relationship with a prominent Australian proponent of the dangerous far-right conspiracy theory QANon, Tim Stewart.
Let me be clear: this is not about who the prime minister is friends with – as my colleague, the member for McMahon, said in the House the other day, the prime minister is not accountable for the political views of his friends.
But when the prime minister allegedly gives a prominent proponent of far-right conspiracy theories – which the American FBI has labelled a domestic terrorism threat – access to Kirribilli House, that is a problem and there are legitimate questions to be asked and the prime minister must answer them.
Not least of all because, as we heard on Four Corners this week, Mr Stewart’s family has twice contacted the national security hotline to express concern about his behaviour.