Adjust size of text


Follow us and continue the conversation

Your saved articles

You haven't saved any articles

What are you looking for?

Three federal politicians attended rally where antisemitic speech given

Special Correspondent
Print this

Published: 5 April 2022

Last updated: 4 March 2024

George Christensen, from the Liberal Party, and One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts were seen along with Craig Kelly, from the United Australia Party

FEDERAL PARLIAMENTARIANS FROM One Nation, the Coalition and the United Australia Party attended a Canberra protest rally at which virulent antisemitic remarks were expressed.

Craig Kelly MP (UAP), George Christensen MP (Liberal Party) and Senator Malcolm Roberts (One Nation) were seen at the March 29 event, organised by the UAP, which was held on the lawns directly outside Parliament House.

Craig Kelly addressed the audience following a speech by Mark McMurtrie, in which he claimed that the Union Jack was a secret Jewish symbol and that Australians were “standing under the Jews and what they represent”. The audience, which included dozens of UAP members in bright yellow party attire, was captured on video responding with applause and cries of “get rid of them!” and “Zionists”!

Following questions from The Jewish Independent last week, Kelly sought to clarify his entanglement with McMurtrie and the racism displayed at this event. “This was not a UAP event,” he said, claiming the UAP rally had finished before McMurtrie got up to speak. “Another group organised a protest, which they brought a stage on the back of a truck”.

Kelly also stated that, although he was present during McMurtrie’s speech, he did not hear his antisemitic statements.

However, further footage from the March 29 event has since emerged that raises serious questions over Kelly’s involvement and the response to McMurtrie’s comments by other federal parliamentarians who were present.

Anti-fascist researcher Tom Tanuki posted photographs which showed Kelly in direct vicinity of the stage during McMurtie’s address and standing immediately next to the PA system speakers that  broadcast the speech (see photo with numbers).

Other images show Kelly addressing the audience on the stage allegedly brought in by the unaffiliated protest group on a truck, raising doubts on the alleged  distinction between this group and the UAP. It also appeared that Kelly delivered his speech after McMurtrie made his comments, not in the morning beforehand as he had claimed.

McMurtrie’s comments were not challenged by any of the later speakers at the event, and objections from audience members have not been documented.

Photo: Mark McMurtrie on stage (1), PA system speaker (2) and Craig Kelly (3)
Photo: Mark McMurtrie on stage (1), PA system speaker (2) and Craig Kelly (3)

The recently identified presence of George Christensen MP and Senator Malcolm Roberts at the protest has escalated concerns about the incident and its implications.  Photos from the day show Roberts and Christensen standing backstage in proximity to organisers and speakers. Neither publicly condemned McMurtrie’s comments at the time.

However, Christensen has since responded to questions from The Jewish Independent regarding the rally, saying that he did “disavow the comments” by McMurtrie and would not participate in events with him in future.

“Mr McMurtie's views are wrong and have nothing to do with opposition to pandemic policy, which is why people were there,” said Christensen. “I did not hear [McMurtrie’s] statement while I was at the event and if I did, I would've said something.”

He also said he did not believe his presence legitimised McMurtrie’s comments.

The Jewish Independent reports during the past 12 months have highlighted, on several occasions, of the associations between extremist anti-Semites and the anti-vaccine movement in Australia. Last week’s incident demonstrates a further blurring of the lines separating conservative politicians, anti-vaccine activists and antisemitic bigots.

Initially, the associations between these factions occurred primarily online. This year, it has become physical and moved to the doorstep of Australian democracy.

John Larter, Liberal Democrat candidate (wearing paramedic hat), Graham Hood (in white, front). Behind them, George Christensen with the red tie, Senator Gerard Rennick (Lib) next to him.
John Larter, Liberal Democrat candidate (wearing paramedic hat), Graham Hood (in white, front). Behind them, George Christensen with the red tie, Senator Gerard Rennick (Lib) next to him.

Last week’s event also highlights the breadth of tacit support these movement received from Australian politicians. Right-wing politics in Australia is dominated by the Coalition, One Nation and the UAP. All were represented at this event.

It is the first time a contemporary Australian federal parliamentarian so openly shared the stage with a brazen antisemite, and it follows a pattern of indifference towards antisemitism by Kelly and Christensen.

Meanwhile, several UAP figures are actively endorsing material from neo-Nazi groups. In recent weeks, candidates from the UAP have reposted content from National Socialist Network’s Blair Cottrell and the anti-democratic AustraliaOne Party.

These alarming incidents have motivated some UAP federal election candidates to come out in defence of their leader and his party. Linda Daniel, UAP candidate for the outer Sydney seat of Mitchell, stated on April 1:

“We have candidates who come from Semitic backgrounds and we are a UNITED Australia party, so we naturally oppose antisemitism.”

ACT Senate Candidate Sean Conway directly addressed the McMurtrie incident on Twitter on April 1: “In a crowd there are many, and many opinions. If you let the crowd be encouraged by fascists you lose them. Craig is there to bring them away from that darkness … calling out poor behaviour before you win a crowd is an instant loss.”

The Jewish Independent approached Craig Kelly and Malcolm Roberts for comment about these latest revelations but they did not respond by the time of publication.

Photo: the UAP rally in Canberra on Tuesday, March 29

The Jewish Independent acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country throughout Australia. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and strive to honour their rich history of storytelling in our work and mission.

Enter site