Contributed by Jim Hayes
Advance Australia came into existence in 2018, aiming to be a counter force against online activist group GetUp. The complaint was that GetUp is a leading force destroying mainstream Australian values and freedoms, and is therefore, a threat to the “Australian way of life”.
It’s website clearly interprets this threat as coming from a conspiracy of “cultural elites, foreign money, union bosses, and left-wing activists” who are “dictating our political and social agenda”.
Although the special target is GetUp, the Wilderness Society, Australian Youth Climate Coalition and Antifa are mentioned and connected to a conspiracy of cultural elites, foreign money, union bosses, and left-wing activists. They are replacing “freedom and community ethics,” with the politics of “race, class, culture, power, gender, and victimhood,” they claim.
Advance Australia campaigns focus on issues like opposing multiculturalism, LGTB rights, unions, and railing against what it says is the climate hoax, restrictions during Covic-19 and an imagined attack on the freedom of Christian religion.
This is the standard menu for the ultra-right. But this is not a tiny group worshiping the image of Adolf Hitler. It is a major operation with powerful people behind it and a lot of money.
Advance Australia claims to be independent of any political party or organisation. The fact that its first National Director, Gerard Benedet, was chief of staff to former Queensland LNP Treasurer Tim Nicholls. He was replaced in 2019 by Liz Storer, former advisor to Liberal senator Zed Seselja and City of Gosnells councillor, suggests otherwise.
Interview with Liz Storer
interview from June 2020 with Liz Storer, provides an insight into the ultra-right politics of Advance Australia.
Video from Pellowe Talk
Advance Australia may not represent the Liberal party as such. But it looks like it is locked into the same network.
Further evidence is in its Committee, which includes high profile businessmen such as Maurice Newman, Kennards Self Storage managing director Sam Kennard, Australian Jewish Association president David Adler, security specialist Sean Jacobs, and journalist Kerry Wakefield.
The money coming from well-heeled sources is kept hidden. Nevertheless, the scale can be deduced from how much is spent. In the 2019-20 financial year, Advance Australia was the second biggest spender on political campaigns, using $2.5 million on its “save free speech” and “Keep Australia Day on 26 January campaigns alone.
Overall, this organisation is spending around 10 times what GetUp spends, and this is around $10 million a year. It means it is spending up to $100 million.
For all this money and high flying connections, it has made little headway and remains outside the public consciousness. It is a monumental failure.
Its problem is that it presents everything wrong about Australia and all criticism as a conspiracy. Attitudes are changing because of the conditions people are living in. This is exactly why they are losing trust in traditional politics and institutions and open to new ideas.
Most want an Australia that respects all, champions equality, hears their voice.
Advance Australia turns a blind eye to this and does not resonate with the broader community.
GetUp on the other hand, has been extraordinarily successful, and makes them frightened of it.