A RADICAL right-wing youth group will launch a publicity campaign at several university campuses in the coming weeks, arguing for overseas education to be “substantively phased out”.
The Eureka Youth League will distribute flyers at Monash, Melbourne and La Trobe Universities, as well as RMIT.
The group’s website vows to “oppose all that is corrupt, alien, sick, retrograde and perverse in current Australian Society” and “work for the day when Australia can be purged clean.”
One pamphlet reads, “We want places at Australian Universities for Aussies, not for foreigners with dollars!”
Between 2008 and 2009 Australia earned over $17 billion in export revenue from education services, making international education its fourth biggest export behind coal, iron ore and gold.
Student groups are concerned about the upcoming recruitment drive, with the RMIT Student Union advising students to report any Eureka Youth League presence to campus security.
“While we respect freedom of speech, RMIT University Student Union does not condone racial or religious discrimination in any form and will do everything possible to ensure the well-being and safety of students,” a spokesman said.
“We are committed to providing an inclusive community free from racial or religious discrimination and such acts will not be tolerated.”
The Eureka Youth League is the youth wing of the Australia First political party, which won 0.4% of the vote for the Queensland Senate in the last federal election.
Dr Jim Saleam, NSW Chairman of the Australia First Party, denied the flyers have any racist intent.
“Our critics of all sorts operate to their agendas,” he said.
“Loading us with negative imputation is necessary for them.
“The matter of racism is irrelevant to Australia First; the issues of race and identity have long gone beyond that label.”
According to Dr Saleam, the Eureka Youth League was established in 2010 as an initiative of several younger members of the Australia First Party.
He would not disclose the group’s current membership figures, nor allow any contact between it and the media.
“The League members felt it was far more useful to operate without media interaction,” he said.
“In that regard, Australia First has provided certain services to shield League members and activists from unnecessary intrusion.”
Australia First has donated money to the League for its program in 2012, and party members will be assisting with the upcoming publicity drive.
“Our goal in 2012 is to aim at a younger audience,” Dr Saleam said.
“We expect the [Eureka] League will contribute to that development.”
Since its conception in 1996, the Australia First Party has been dogged by controversy.
Dr Jim Saleam himself was convicted in 1991 of organising a shotgun attack on the representative of the African National Congress in Australia, and in December 2005, party members distributed anti-immigration pamphlets and, allegedly, alcohol, at the Cronulla riots in southern Sydney.
The party’s former youth wing, the Patriotic Youth League (PYL), conducted a similar “publicity drive” in 2004 at the University of Newcastle, advocating “Australian unis for Australian students.”
The Herald Sun reported at the time that the group had ties to American neo-nazi organisations.
For Kevin Dunn, professor in Human Geography and Urban Studies at the University of Western Sydney, groups like the Eureka League are merely the latest manifestation of a movement that began over a hundred years ago.
“There has always been a connection between Australianism and Anglo-ism,” he said.
“It all goes back to the White Australia policy, where throughout that time it was formerly stated that Australian national identity was narrow and that it was Anglo.”
In 1998 Dunn set out to map the contours of racism in Australia and, after a decade of research, began to get a clearer picture of how we see ourselves.
According to his study, Challenging Racism, 86 per cent of Australians believe it is a good thing for society to be made up of different people from different ethnic backgrounds.
However, 12 per cent admit they are prejudiced against other cultures.
“What we found was that about one in ten Australians had very problematic views,” Prof Dunn said.
“For instance one in ten believe that there’s a racial hierarchy. They self identify as racist.
“And those people, we’ve found, are more likely to assume that their view is in fact the majority view. They have an inflated sense that their own views are consensus.”
Prof Dunn warned that although the Eureka League may not have a large following, the threat they pose is real.
“The more this minority get the sense that they have a majority view, the more emboldened they become,” he said.
“Make no mistake, they are the organised end of racism.”
Challenging Racism can be viewed online.