Vashti Fox is the author of The Story of Palestine: Empire, Repression and Resistance, available to purchase from Red Flag Books.
Aishwarya Aswath was 7 years old when she was carried by her father into the emergency department at Perth Children’s Hospital. She had a high temperature, her hands were cold, her eyes were cloudy and her body was floppy. Despite her parents’ efforts, for 90 minutes she received only sporadic attention from nurses, clerks and doctors. Three hours after entering the emergency department, Aishwarya went into cardiac arrest. Her death was avoidable.
Between 1984 and 1989, tens of thousands of lampposts, letterboxes and bus stops across Perth were covered with neo-Nazi posters bearing slogans such as “No Asians”, “No coloureds”, “White revolution: The only solution” and “Jews are ruining your life”. The poster campaign, initiated and organised by the Australian Nationalist Movement (ANM), was the opening salvo in a campaign of terror that ANM leader Jack Van Tongeren believed would make the city the centre of a fascist revolution.
Across Australia, more than 650 people have died with COVID in the last two weeks. Not one of those deaths occurred in Western Australia. Nearly 5,000 people are currently hospitalised. In Western Australia, the number is zero. The country is averaging around 70,000 new cases per day. In the west, we’ve thus far been lucky to keep it to around a dozen per day.
Before the pandemic, it would have been hard to predict that mass far-right mobilisations would dominate the streets of Australia’s capital cities. But they have, and they threaten to continue.
The ongoing anti-vax, anti-lockdown movement across the country is one of the most sustained and militant series of street marches of the far right in decades. In different states, the demonstrations have different political targets, but they have been largest in Labor-governed jurisdictions.
When fascists attacked the headquarters of an Italian trade union confederation this month, tens of thousands of anti-fascists responded by taking to the streets. We should take note in Australia.