A Canberra-based security expert has called for a register of hate crimes and hate speech to be established in Australia.
The call follows the New Zealand terror attacks in March, when 51 people were killed while praying at two Christchurch mosques. An Australian man accused of carrying out the shootings is a self-avowed white supremacist.
Dr John Coyne, who heads the Australian Strategic Policy Institute's programs on strategic policing and law enforcement and border security, said social media and political statements about race and immigration made by the likes of Fraser Anning had normalised sets of language used by white supremacists.
Despite the increased exposure of these views, Dr Coyne said violent acts perpetrated by right-wing extremists had been few and far between in Australia.
He pointed to the murder committed by anti-abortion activist Peter Knight in Melbourne in 2001 and the campaign of violence against Asian people in Western Australia led by Jack van Tongeren as being the most notable acts committed by right-wing extremists in recent decades.
"We've had a long break between murders," Dr Coyne said.
"What we're not sure of is what other hate crimes have been committed and what other hate language has been used.
"I think we need, as a country, to keep good stats on that, to better understand it."
Dr Coyne, a former Australian Federal Police counterterrorism and organised crime specialist, said the most extreme white supremacist discussions remained hidden away from the mainstream on the online messageboard 4chan.
He said this should send a clear message that it was unacceptable to be a white supremacist according to Australian values, which included diversity.
"They have to go on 4chan because there are not that many of them in the world, and they feed off each other there and they're vile, but we should not be sitting here and being fearful that there are a large number of these people in the community," Dr Coyne said.
"4chan is the domain of drug-dealers and child exploiters. It's a place where criminals go to share information and data.
"This is the level of how reprehensible these people we're talking about, and their messages, are. To a degree, they realise that's exactly what they are like.
"If they were to really look at themselves and their hate speech, and say, 'What I'm saying is so bad that the only place I can share that hate speech is the same place where people share child exploitation material', that in itself should be a very strong message."
While most representations of white supremacists tended to describe groups, Dr Coyne said they did not have a shared dogma.
However, they tended to create their own "echo chambers" online, increasing the risk of dislocated and dissatisfied people finding others who sympathised with them.
"There's definitely room nationally, and even in the ACT itself, to develop a government register that records hate crime and hate speech," Dr Coyne said.
"Let's get some understanding of how it's ebbing and flowing.
"That will provide compelling details and empirical evidence we can use to make other decisions."
In the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation maintains a national register of hate crimes, using information it collects from more than 16,000 police agencies.
Australia has just eight state and territory police forces, with the Australian Federal Police reporting to Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton.
Mr Dutton's office was contacted for comment on whether he planned to establish a national register of hate crimes and hate speech.
The request was referred to the Department of Home Affairs, which did not address the question in a response that said the federal government had allocated more than $53 million to programs included in the countering violent extremism strategy since 2013-14.
The programs included supporting people at risk of violent radicalisation and training to help frontline staff in various fields, including health professionals, teachers, police and prison staff, to recognise early warning signs of violent extremism.
Efforts were also made to combat terrorist propaganda, including removing online content, and to provide training to support more Australians to speak out against extremism and hatred online.
"All extremist groups are taken seriously, regardless of the background of the perpetrator," a Home Affairs spokesman said.
"The [Australian Federal Police] are concerned about the point at which extremist views become actions that are illegal.
"Using violence to force your views on others is illegal and unacceptable in a democracy."
An ACT government spokesman said there were no plans to establish a territory-specific register, but he said the government would be willing to discuss a proposal if it was raised at a federal level.
Under ACT law, hate crimes and hate speech are dealt with under the Discrimination Act 1991, which makes it illegal to vilify someone based on their disability, gender identity, HIV/AIDS status, intersex status, race, religion or sexuality.
"The ACT government strongly opposes any conduct which threatens the safety, wellbeing and inclusion of the ACT community," the spokesman said.
"The government believes that people's differences, including diversity in cultural backgrounds and life experiences, are what make the ACT community a wonderful and vibrant place to live in and be a part of.
"Violence has no part to play in the ACT community, and the government supports strategies which help to improve operational measures for tracking, monitoring and responding to hate crimes and hate speech in the ACT and nationally."
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