NSW Nationals MP Troy Grant has come out saying his party was not a “safe harbour for people with outrageous views”, responding to revelations that alt-right nationalists have been attempting to stack the NSW Young Nationals.
The organisation has temporarily suspended processing new NSW Young Nationals memberships, after an ABC Background Briefing investigation detailed the alt-right infiltration of the party.
At least three NSW Young Nationals – including Clifford Jennings, who sits on the executive of the party’s youth wing – are or recently have been members of a group called the Lads Society, a new project headed by some of the nation’s most prominent alt-right nationalists like Blair Cottrell.
The other two Young Nationals members are Thomas Brasher and Oscar Tuckfield.
Mr Grant, the MP for Dubbo, said he was “not happy” about the reports and was “very concerned that people with those views would try and infiltrate our party”.
“Our party’s about one thing and that’s representing the views and aspirations of people in country NSW,” he said.
“We have no appetite or interest in being some safe harbour for people with outrageous views that don’t align with our own and I’m sure our party membership will take care of them quickly.”
The Background Briefing investigation revealed that Mr Jennings, Mr Brasher and Mr Tuckfield were attending a secret men’s-only fight club run by Lads Society.
Mr Jennings was also a member of the far-right movement The New Guard, a group of self-described fascists.
“I wasn’t aware of this infiltration or these individuals attempting to come into our party to exert some level of influence,” Mr Grant said.
In a statement issued yesterday, the Young Nationals declared “radical ideologies have no place” within the party, and announced they would carry out an “urgent investigation” headed by the party’s constitution and ethics committee.
“Allegations regarding the infiltration of the NSW Young Nationals by ‘alt-right’ and/or ‘far-right’ persons or groups is of the [utmost] concern to the NSW Nationals,” a statement issued by the organisation read.
“The rise of splinter groups that threaten to undermine our democracy are taken very seriously by the NSW Nationals and we declare that such radical ideologies have no place within our party.
“The National Party rejects all forms of racism and hatred. Neither have any place within the NSW Nationals and our party will not become a battleground for forces that have no history, allegiance or understanding of our party.”
The decision to temporarily suspend memberships was made in consultation with the state chairman of the NSW Nationals and the chairman of NSW Young Nationals, according to the statement.
“We are and always have been a party representing the people of rural and regional areas,” the statement read.
“We are seeking additional information from media and other sources to assist the investigation and we will act swiftly if any member is found to belong to these extremist groups.”
So far, Mr Jennings has been suspended pending an investigation, along with fundraising officer Lisa Sandford.