The Australia First Party (AFP) is a far-right political party of Australia. The party is led by Jim Saleam. Saleam is the Chairman of the party in New South Wales and plays a major role in the party on a national scale. The policies of Australia First have been described as nationalistic, anti-multicultural and economic protectionist.
The first mention of the party's name and attempt to form was by the Australian Conservative Party which tried to reform under "Australian Conservative Alliance" also known as Australia First Party in 1995, but was unsuccessful.
The Australia First Party was founded in June 1996 by Graeme Campbell and registered as political party by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) on 13 September 1996. Campbell was a Labor Party member of the Australian House of Representatives for the seat of Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, from 1980 until he was expelled from the party in November 1995. Campbell had become increasingly critical of the policies of the Labor government of Paul Keating, particularly in matters relating to economic deregulation, Aboriginal land rights, and multiculturalism.
The AFP was overshadowed by the appearance in 1997 of One Nation, a rival populist party led by an independent MP, Pauline Hanson.
Following Campbell's resignation in June 2001, Diane Teasdale became the national president of the Australia First Party, but at the national level the party had not been very active 2001–2004 (it did not contest the 2001 election).
In 2002, a new AFP branch was formed in Sydney. The Secretary of the Sydney Branch was Jim Saleam, a stalwart of the Australian far right who was convicted of organising a shotgun attack on the home of a local representative of the African National Congress in the late 1980s. Saleam has maintained his innocence of the charge, claiming he was framed by politicised police, and his legal defence has been published on the internet.
In 2002, the party helped to form the Patriotic Youth League. The PYL was formed by Stuart McBeth who was a university student at the time. The league was described by anti-racist groups as being "far right" and as being "racist".
Saleam has written many articles about what he sees as the failings of the neo-conservative international policies of the state and federal governments in Australia since December 1972. Saleam has been widely critical of the deregulation of the financial market and of the abolition of protectionist measures by successful federal governments since 1972 and especially since the election of Hawke-Keating Labor government in 1983.
The party was deregistered by the AEC on 13 August 2004 for failing to nominate candidates at elections for four years.
In April 2007 Darrin Hodges, chairman of the Sutherland Shire branch, was expelled from Australia First. Hodges the co-founded the Australian Protectionist Party. The Whitelaw Towers website, which is linked to the leadership of Australia First, has denounced Hodges and his friends as being "Christian Zionists". and being in league with the Zionist Occupational Government. Whitelaw Towers has also claimed that Darrin Hodges is a "kosher nationalist".
In August 2007 Saleam (and several other prominent organisers) were expelled from Australia First by the old party leadership led by Teasdale. Saleam then took control of the NSW membership and incorporated "Australia First Party (NSW)". The Saleam faction also took control of most other party branches like the ones in Toowoomba and Newcastle. The old party leadership refused to recognise the decisions made by the Saleam faction and denounced the faction's moves as being illegal and threatened legal action against Saleam. The old party leadership maintained control over some party branches thus splitting the party into two separate groups. One was controlled by Saleam and the other by Teasdale. In 2010 all the assets of the old party were transferred to the new AFP under the leadership of Saleam.
In July 2009, the party announced that it had reached its target of 500 members and was registering the New South Wales branch party with the AEC. The NSW party was registered on 13 June 2010, in time for the August 2010 general election.
In March 2010, it was announced on the New South Wales website of the Australia First Party that the Eureka Youth League had been formed. In the statement, the party claimed that it was an "initiative of a few young nationalists" who were members of the AFP.
The party has been involved in Glenn Druery's Minor Party Alliance.
On May 2, 2014 the party aligned itself with the Golden Dawn party of Greece, a far-right organisation.
On June 28, 2015, Saleam pledged support for another Australian far-right and anti-Islamic organisation, the United Patriots Front.
On July 14, 2015, the Australian Electoral Commission advised that the Australia First Party had been deregistered due to the failure to demonstrate the required number of members. It was reregistered by the Australian Electoral Commission on 1 March 2016.
On July 24, 2016, the party endorsed David Duke for the 2016 United States Senate election in Louisiana via Twitter
According to the programme of the Party, Australia First has eight core policies:Ensure Australia retains full independence
Rebuild Australian manufacturing industries
Control foreign ownership
Reduce and limit immigration
Introduce Citizen's Initiated Referendums
Strengthen the family
Strive to rebuild a united Australia
At the October 1998 federal election, Campbell lost his seat, polling only 22 percent of the vote in a seat he had represented for 18 years. The AFP failed to win significant support elsewhere, of which Campbell blames the rise of One Nation in a 2009 interview, stating that they "took 8.5% of the vote from me, which meant I lost the election."
In June 2001, Campbell left the AFP in order to stand (unsuccessfully) as a One Nation senate candidate in Western Australia.
The AFP did not contest the 2001 election.
The AFP website says that the party fielded candidates in the 2004 local council elections in Sydney, Newcastle and Coffs Harbour. But the real extent of the AFP's organisation and membership is not known.
The AFP did not contest the 2004 election.
In November 2005, AFP president Diane Teasdale stood in the elections for the Shepparton Council and received 1,373 first preference votes, representing 4.37% of valid votes cast.
In November 2006, Adelaide AFP representative Bruce Preece was elected as Councillor for the St John's Wood Ward of the City of Prospect. Preece is the first AFP representative since Campbell to be elected into any level of government.
AFP representative John Moffat contested the seat of Cronulla in southern Sydney during the 2007 New South Wales elections as an independent and received 968 votes, representing 2.8% of valid votes cast.
The AFP did not contest the 2007 election.
In September 2008, the Party ran two candidates in New South Wales local government elections. In Sutherland Shire, the Party candidates received 867 votes. In Blacktown, the candidates received 1,229 votes.
Australia First contested the 2010 federal election fielding four candidates for the House of Representatives and two candidates, Peter Schuback and Nick Maine, in the Senate. Australia First obtained 9,680 votes in Queensland for the Senate. The Australia First Party candidates for the lower house and their results were as follows: Terry Cooksley in Chifley, Tony Pettitt in Greenway, Mick Saunders in Lindsay and Alex Nowrick in Deakin. Cooksley received 943 votes (1.17%) and came last, Pettitt got 780 votes (0.98%) and placed 7th; Saunders scored a little higher with 975 votes (1.17%) in a smaller field, coming second last, while Norwick came last, polling 295 votes (0.37%).
In October 2010, Australia First ran a candidate in the Sutherland Shire Council election. The AFP candidate, Matt Hodgson, obtained 932 votes or 4% of the total vote.
At the 2011 NSW state election, the Party stood two candidates. Tony Robinson in Mulgoa received 1,459 votes or 4% of the vote. In Riverstone, Tony Pettitt received 509 votes or 1.2% of the vote.
Australia First won their second council seat at the 2012 NSW local government elections. Maurice Girotto won a position in East Ward for Penrith Council, but later left the party to sit as an Independent.
For the 2016 federal election, Australia First fielded 2 candidates for the senate in Western Australia, and four candidates for the House of Representatives - two in New South Wales, one in the Northern Territory and one in Victoria.
On 8 October 2005, up to fifteen AFP members (including Saleam) rallied outside Kirribilli House to protest against the suspension of Professor Andrew Fraser of Macquarie University.
On 11 December 2005, the Sydney AFP branch, along with the PYL, distributed pamphlets, stickers and allegedly alcohol at the Sydney beachside suburb of Cronulla where an estimated 5000 people had gathered to protest against harassment by Lebanese gangs. SBS World News on 13 December 2005 reported that Saleam had organised around 150 members and sympathisers to attend the rally.
Several AFP members returned to Cronulla the following month during the Australia Day festivities to further their campaign.
Australia First supporters handed out leafets at the rally in Melbourne on 28 June 2006, protesting against the Howard Government's industrial relations laws. The leaflets focused almost entirely on the issue of "foreign workers" being brought into Australia and "undermining the wages of Australian workers". The leaflet gave post office box addresses in Croydon and Shepparton as contact points, and also gave two party websites
On 7 October 2006, over a dozen members of the Sutherland Shire branch of the AFP rallied outside the office of Cook MP Bruce Baird to highlight their opposition to his liberal views on refugee and asylum seeker policy. The AFP described the rally as the start of a campaign to "reclaim Australia and defend people's rights".
In January 2007 Australia First supporters distributed 2500 leaflets in Tamworth, New South Wales, that claimed refugees spread crime and disease. This was in response to the council's decision to approve a refugee program that would resettle up to five Sudanese families in the area. The council had initially rejected the program.
In 2010, the Australia First Party joined in the campaign against the importation of beef from countries infected or has previously been infected with the Mad Cow Disease.
In November 2010, Australia First was accused of letter boxing thousands of racist leaflets that claimed that "Sub-Saharan African males on the most part possess low IQs and high testosterone levels/sex drives, characteristics which make them potential weapons of mass destruction to everyday Australians going about their daily lives". The leaflets were distributed in Campbelltown near Sydney. The Party Chairman, Saleam, claimed that "We have never written anything like that and whoever has written this has a very odd sense of humour. There is no comment that can be possibly made to this argument".
Australia First was accused of trying to start a riot on Australia Day 2011. The NSW Police Force told the Daily Telegraph that they were keeping an eye on the party and on other groups to make sure that they didn't cause any problems.
Thousands of leaflets were distributed in Aratula, Boonah and Warwick on Australia Day 2011. They called for the scrapping of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth). The leaflets also attacked multiculturalism and multiracialism.
The party has been brought into the spotlight for ideologies of violence, racism, and inciting hatred. Fight Dem Back, B'nai B'rith and many other anti-racist groups have accused the Australia First Party of being "racist", "neo Nazi", "extreme right" and of being "far right". Party leader Jim Saleam was part of the National Socialist Party of Australia in the early 1970s.
Australia First also endorsed independent candidate John Moffat, who was later criticised by B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation Commission chairman Michael Lipshutz, Cronulla Liberal MP Malcolm Kerr and Lebanese Muslim Association spokesman Jihad Dib for "inciting racial hatred".
On 10 July 2009, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that David Palmer, the Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan in Australia, said several Klan members had secretly joined Australia First. Palmer said Australia First had been identified as an Aryan party and would prove useful "in case the ethnics get out of hand and they need sorting out."
In July 2010, the Green Left Weekly reported that Australia First was distributing leaflets comparing Africans to monkeys, and "blaming Africans for the social problems in Sydney's west". Australia First denied responsibility for the leaflets, claiming that they had been distributed in an attempt to discredit the party.