Alt-right political activist Lauren Southern

Australia has been inconsistent with it’s visa policy in the last few years to say the least. The potential denial of a visa to Chelsea Manning puts her in the same category as musicians like Snoop Dogg and Chris Brown and holocaust denier David Irving, all of whom have had their Australian visas revoked on account of their criminal behaviour.

But technically, particularly under the tenure of former immigration minister Peter Dutton, one does not have to actually commit a crime. Just ask anti-abortion campaigner Troy Newman, who had his visa revoked in 2015 — no specific reason was given, but commonly cited was his assertion in a 2003 book (uncovered by Crikey) that doctors who perform abortions ought to be executed in states that have the death penalty for murder.

The immigration minister can refuse or revoke a visa if they form the view that a person simply doesn’t pass the “character test” based on their past or current conduct (which doesn’t have to be criminal), or the risk they might commit a crime or “incite discord” while in Australia. The legislation provides a huge consolidation of power for the immigration minister, who can make these calls with very little oversight or review. But if these are the people who have failed the “character test”, who has been deemed to pass it?

Lauren Southern

Aryan catalogue model Lauren Southern sauntered into the country promising she would bring “chaos” with her. This had mixed results — her attempts to get vox pops were met with a shrug, but there were violent protests at her $250-a-head events. 

Even without her promise to bring discord, there was that time she was detained in Italy for attempting to block a ship that rescues stranded refugees in the Mediterranean, run by SOS Mediterranée, with support from Médecins Sans Frontières.

Julien Blanc

The “pick-up artist” who runs the Pimping My Game website was successful in his application to travel to Australia in October 2014 for a series of seminars on seducing women. His courting tips included various acts of abuse and assault. Outcry followed him around the country. A month into his tour, then-immigration minister Scott Morrison bowed to public pressure and revoked his visa, forcing him to leave the country, much in the way he was forced to leave his protested events like the big brave boy he is. 

Gavin McInnes

Another in the line of “white genocide” anti-Islam conspiracy theory brigade — his own brand also laced with a kick of anti-Semitism — the Vice founder is heading to Australia for a speaking tour later this year. Post Vice, he formed the “Proud Boys” (yes they are really called that), a kind of libertarian/men’s rights/”western chauvinist”/anti-masturbation collective who would be just hilarious if they’d not been involved in violent brawls across North America. McInnes has been been quoted (and frequently backtracked) advocating for violence several times. Per the Southern Poverty Law Centre

In fact, in early 2017, the Proud Boys added another degree to their membership hierarchy: in order to enter the 4th degree, a member needs to ‘get involved in a major fight for the cause.’ ‘You get beat up, kick the crap out of an antifa,’ McInnes explained to Metro. Though he claimed in the interview he was ready to ‘get violent and beat the f–k out of everybody.’

In 2017 McInnes recruited a man named Kyle Chapman — who gained some notoriety for thumping an antifa protester over the head with a wooden dowel at a pro-Trump rally earlier in the year — to form a “paramilitary wing” called the Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights.

This is to make no mention of sparkly bully and pedophilia apologist Milo Yiannopoulos, Dutch politician Geert “the Koran is basically Mein Kampf” Wilders, or even unrepentant murder advocate Cat Stevens, all of whom could be argued to pose a threat of “discord within the Australian community” and none of whom encountered the same problems Manning has. 

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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