This week I’ve started in on Leviathan: the unauthorised biography of Sydney. Been meaning to read it for a while. Done by John Birmingham so it’s very readable. Birmingham also did He Died With A Felafel In His Hand which is so funny my boss at the time went purple and couldn’t speak.
Excerpt from Leviathan about a bunch of violent nutters in the eighties, including a deserving case who comes to a sticky end:
[A tiny fascist political party] unexpectedly found itself called upon to explain its position. The party’s slack-jawed mouthpiece denied they were in any way racist. [They] didn’t believe in the superiority of one race over another. [They] simply believed that the Anglo-Celtic culture of Australia should not be endangered. As more people noted what they were saying … the party’s internal bulletin, announced that the time had come for taking it to the streets.
Student unions noted an escalating number of bashings of Asian students after dark, both on campus and in the clutch of inner city suburbs around the neo-Nazis’ favourite watering holes. There was a shift not just in the frequency of political violence, but also in its intensity and focus. The targets began to change. The party bulletin  featured a regular [column] in which critics of the party would find their name, phone number and address published with an invitation to the ‘curious and adventurous’ to dish out a little nationalist justice. Journalists such as Gerard Henderson, Andrew Olle and Adele Horin who covered the immigration debate or related topics in an unsatisfactory manner began to receive phone calls and death threats late at night. Academics and unionists found their car tyres slashed and graffiti daubed on their houses. Greenpeace and Community Aid Abroad shops were broken into and looted.
Violent overthrow of the dominant paradigm doesn’t come cheap, however, so in early 1984 the party leadership cooked up a scam to rip off the GIO and raise money to buy all the firebombs, balaclavas and nail-studded clubs they would need to make people understand the righteousness of their cause. A woman who rented a room at [the party's] headquarters came home one day to find the place ransacked, her jewellery gone and party fuhrer  shaking his head
[The party] began working its way down the enemies list, widening their attacks from vulnerable students and the occasional journalist to gays, lesbians, Aboriginal, peace and anti-apartheid groups, academics, liberal congregations such as the Pitt Street Uniting Church, the Anti-discrimination Board, union activists and, somewhat recklessly, a couple of Special Branch cops who had been assigned to their case. Terrorising the wives and families of heavily armed secret policemen was not the Nazis' first step on the happy staircase to success. After [they] raided the meeting of a gay migration lobby group the hammer came down.
Having suffered through months of harassment the gays were ready for a fight. Their resistance seemed to unnerve the storm troopers and a handful of hysterical pansies and angry dykes proceeded to bitch slap them out of the room. Special Branch quickly obtained a search warrant and charged over to a house in Petersham used as an alternative headquarters by [the party]. They found a tape recording and photographs of the raid. Most of the those who took part were arrested and charged. The cases were heard in Glebe local court and attended by observers from a resistance group called Community Alert Against Racism and Violence.
‘It was unbelievably pathetic,’ said CAARAV’s Betty Hounslow. ‘Shane Rosier, one of their big men, was just this really pathetic bloke in his late forties who was, you know, a bit chubby. He wore these brown trousers that kept riding up the back and an old yukko-Iooking brown cardigan. They found a lot of weapons in his house… coshs, chains, and studded balls. And his story to the magistrate was that the weapons were part of his collection. He’d always been interested in weapons, he said. His grandfather was a famous gun collector. He and his dad had always wanted to have a gun collection just like old Granddad’s, but they’d never had enough money to collect guns so they had to collect cheaper, working-class weapons. And this was why he had all these things. He said the tape of the raid was left on his doorstep one morning. Like a little abandoned baby.’
The pressure told and the Nazis turned on each other as deeply ‘repressed suspicions and rivalries burst through to the surface. Everybody seemed to accuse everyone else of being police spies and sexual deviants. The final slide into ignoble collapse was marked by the gunshot murder of Wayne ‘Bovver’ Smith in [the party's] headquarters at Tempe a few years later. It was an almost perfect example of the hapless farce which so often attended the adventures of Sydney’s neo-Nazi elite in the 1980s. Bovver, twenty-five years old and already weighing 108 kilos thanks to the three or four stubbies of beer he’d consume for breakfast each morning, was shot eight times with a sawn-off .22 rifle by Perry Whitehouse, ten years his senior but less than half his size, during a drunken, confused and basically pointless argument. When Whitehouse blew him away, Bovver was wearing a singlet bearing the message: Say No To The New Gun Control Laws.