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Questions with Notice: Extremism

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Sam Hibbins MP
Member for Prahran
5 October 2021

Mr HIBBINS (Prahran) : My question is to the Premier. Far-right nationalist groups and
anti-vaccine misinformation groups are a threat to the harmony, the health and the safety of our diverse
Victorian community. I ask: what action is the government taking to counter these movements and
their influence in Victoria?

Mr ANDREWS (Mulgrave—Premier) : I thank the honourable member for Prahran for his
question, and what I would say in the first instance is that the phenomenon that he cites is very real.
We saw that on the streets of our city just recently in some appalling scenes. I have never seen so much
fluoro get purchased so quickly—remarkably clean and unbranded. It was an insult to the working
men and women who build our state, might I say, and completely incompatible with the behaviour
that I have witnessed, and been honoured to witness, in the thousands of interactions I have had with
trades men and women across our sites and so many other sites while having the honour of being the
leader of this state.

But that is an aside. The point I am getting to is we did see some absolutely abhorrent behaviour—
criminal behaviour, evil behaviour—and I want to put on record my profound gratitude and the
gratitude of everybody on this side of the house, every member of the government, to Victoria Police.
Every member of Victoria Police—and every police family—knows what it is like to go out to protect
others and to put themselves in harm’s way. In those ugly scenes that we witnessed we saw police
injured and we saw police having to go to hospital, and logic tells you that for so many police families
it would have been an anxious time. That is why we sent not only our best wishes but our best efforts
to support Victoria Police. Every single part of the non-lethal response, every piece of equipment,
every technology and every capability that Victoria Police were able to deploy against these violent
mobs, who acted not only unlawfully but in a completely abhorrent way, was provided by this
government and decisions made by this government in partnership with police command and in
partnership, of course, with police through their association. So not only do we thank police and be
there in word but we are there in our deeds, our decisions, our allocations and our steadfast
commitment to Victoria Police.

Now, it is so disappointing, though, to have to reflect on the fact that not every member of this
Parliament could find it in themselves to be supportive of Victoria Police. They instead used their rather
privileged position in the other place to cast aspersions on Victoria Police and to criticise Victoria
Police, and I will call it out. If I could do more than that, of course I would, but I am not in the position
of leading that individual or pretending to—others are. And I respectfully say they need to do a bit more
than just say a few things at pressers. They need to do something a bit more meaningful than that, or
every member of Victoria Police will know who stands with them and who stands against them.

Ms Staley: On a point of order, Speaker, you have previously ruled that attacking the opposition is
not allowed in question time, and that is what the Premier was doing. I would ask you to ask him to

Ms Allan: On the point of order, Speaker, the Premier was asked by the member for Prahran what
action is the government taking to respond to these far-right extremist activities, and the Premier was
quite clearly outlining both the actions he has taken as leader of the government in supporting Victoria
Police and the actions he would take as a leader. I think he has not mentioned the opposition and he
has not mentioned the Liberal Party, and again, it underscores the grave sensitivity that those opposite
have that they jump to this sort of point of order to interrupt the Premier’s contribution. I ask that you
rule it out of order.

The SPEAKER: Order! I do not uphold the point of order.

Mr ANDREWS: At a time when we saw the worst of behaviour and the worst of conduct, it has
never been more important to support police in every way.

Mr HIBBINS (Prahran) : I thank the Premier for his answer. In just drawing him back to
the actions the government is taking to counter these movements and their influence in Victoria, given
that these dangerous views are at risk of being legitimised across the wider community, including by
members of Parliament, will the government or would the government support a far-reaching inquiry
into the far-right movement and COVID conspiracy groups to further understand the extent of these
groups, the threat they pose and how to protect those who would be most affected?

Mr ANDREWS (Mulgrave—Premier) : Well, I will make it very clear to the member for
Prahran that no member of my government will be giving any comfort or any reassurance or any
legitimacy to these sorts of views, these attitudes and these people. No-one from this government
behaves that way. I will leave it to others as to whether they might make the same claim. On countering
violent extremism, I am happy to write to the member and take him through a whole raft of different
things that we have done. In terms of more recently and this sort of anti-vax conspiracy theorist stuff,
you know, let us deal with the facts, let us follow the science, let us follow the advice, let us back
police and let us give them everything they need to keep our community safe from any threat and
every threat. I notice that the Greens are the ones asking questions that are critical of conspiracy
theorists. There are some others that could not possibly ask questions about conspiracy theorists
because they are conspiracy theorists in everything they say and do. Have you got a point of order on
that, member for Ripon? I do not think so.

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Sam Hibbins MP
Member for Prahran
5 October 2021




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