By Chris Sutton
Australia First Party chairman Dr James Saleam has announced he is running in the Marrickville West Ward by election on November 15th.
Dr Saleam has been a prominent figure in the Sydney far right since the 1970s, but believes that this election could be a turning point for his party and movement.
“We’re looking to get a high profile group of political activists who actually take on the greens and far-left domination in inner city Sydney politics at street level,” he said.
“I don’t belong to either of the major political parties which are stooped in corruption in the state. That’s what’s required in the inner city politics in particular: people who are essentially clean. In this poll I’m saying I’m a clean candidate.”
Dr Saleam said he intends to “stand as a protest vote, representative of the thousands of disaffected residents of Marrickville and indeed for disaffected Australians”. He reserves special mention for the Greens, who he calls “sparring partners”.
“Any criticism of immigration in the Greens’ mind is racism and therefore they look to the other side.”
Susan Price, a Socialist Alliance candidate for the 2015 NSW state election, received a leaflet from the AFP in her mailbox.
“I was pretty horrified. I opened it up and had a read of what the AFP have got to say. I was quite shocked to see that they are running in the by election and I’m quite disgusted by the thought of the racist platform that they’re campaigning on,” she said.
The leaflet proposed a process of cleansing Marrickville City, something that Ms Price believes could be disturbing rhetoric for neighbours.
“It invokes all sorts of images. For those residents who came to Australia as migrants after the Second World War and beyond, it conjures up all sorts of negative imagery.”
Ms Price said the AFP has a very concerning agenda for Marrickville.
“Jim Saleam makes it quite clear in his lectures that he’s ready to conduct a culture war in Marrickville and to get support from people to do that. He’s against environmentalism and against a welcoming policy towards refugees.”
She said she believes anyone should be able to contest an election, as it’s up to the public to decide whether the candidate is worth supporting.
“I think the public is intelligent enough that when they get a leaflet like this in their mailbox to make up their minds pretty quickly about the character of the AFP and their candidates, whoever they may be.”
Ms Price said nobody has denied Dr Saleam the right to freedom of speech.
“At the end of the day it’s up to those of us who are humanitarian-minded, anti-racist and who are interested in building a kind of suburb in Marrickville and Sydney that welcomes refugees.”
AFP posters have been placed throughout Marrickville. They read: “Refuse entry to refugees, expel every refugee who has arrived” and “no money for parasites, Australia for Australians”.
AFP also created a campaign against international students studying in Australia, which read: “Overseas students go home! No visas and no jobs for these would-be migrants”.
“I hope they don’t win, but obviously they decided that this is an opportunity to put their political platform forward and to measure what kind of support there might be for it. One way the residents of Marrickville west ward can take a stand is to actively support campaigns for refugees,” said Ms Price.
City Hub recently published an article about a white supremacist group spreading a new racist campaign to the inner city suburbs of Sydney. The group, called Squadron 88, distributed anti-Semitic flyers and delivered racist literature to letterboxes, and are believed by some to be linked to the AFP and a large neo-Nazi organisation in America.
Dr Saleam said he doesn’t expect to win the by election and “would be pleased with 100 votes; ecstatic with 200”. He said he wants to find Australians who follow the beliefs of the AFP and is committed to building an activist structure in the three municipalities of inner Sydney.
He refuted claims that he has racist views.
“I don’t give a damn. It is an entirely falsely crafted argument. In the Greens case it’s a moral whip with which to beat gutless people, and I’m not one of the gutless people.”
Ms Price said she welcomes the opportunity to stand against Dr Saleam.
“To take people like Jim and the AFP out politically is ultimately how we are going to defeat these sorts of xenophobic nationalists, and I would say they are absolutely racist,” she said.
Other candidates for Marrickville west include Labor’s Daniel Barbar, Liberal’s George Andrade and Justine Langford from the Greens.