06 April 2010
Perry Jewell interviewed by the Courier Mail.
As media goes this is probably the best we will ever get. Well done Perry.
ABOUT 85KM WEST OF BRISBANE, PERRY JEWELL sips a glass of white wine in the Forest Hill pub. It’s the pub where he once hosted meetings of his Confederate Action Party, its members discussing policies such as “Abolish the Aboriginal Affairs Department” and “Cancel the refugee program”. Jewell presents as a knowledgeable high school history teacher, with the conservative dress sense to match. But all his history lessons are themed in social decay. The CAP was the unofficial predecessor to One Nation, and Jewell a behind-the-scenes figure in the rise of Pauline Hanson in 1994. Where you have a vacuum in leadership, he says, “people will create a leader or a symbol for everything that is in their minds”. He says he advised Hanson, jailed in August 2003 for electoral fraud (the conviction was quashed the following November), “to stay in prison and we would have built the biggest political party this country has ever seen and we would have voted the bastards out next time round. She was brave. But she became an opportunist. And she became a blocking mechanism to the right wing. Pauline couldn’t talk in detail on a dozen different topics.” He tilts his head. “Try me. I sense these people would get behind someone with intelligence.” Born in Northern Ireland to English parents in 1941, Jewell was raised in Kenya and Tanzania and worked in “military intelligence” in South Africa and what was then Rhodesia. He moved his family to Queensland in time to watch Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s National Party self-destruct, and after the 1990 suicide of his son, Wayne – his boy was, he later discovered, broke – he began tuning into the “dissent and discord” among Queenslanders. He began making notes about the fallout from what he considered poor government. He created 38 policies and founded the CAP on the verandah of his home on a small farm in Tarampa, northwest of Ipswich. He traversed the state in the passenger seats of transport trucks, recruiting members.
At the party’s peak in 1994, he says, there were 5000 members in 72 branches in Queensland, NSW and Victoria. Jewell is now a senior Queensland member of the Australia First Party, founded in 1996. The party boldly announced itself in July last year as the first anti-immigration party since One Nation to gain enough members (the required 500) to contest a federal election. Not far from Forest Hill is Crows Nest. In 2006, residents here and in nearby Toowoomba opened their letterboxes to find pamphlets saying “Toowoomba is Under Attack!” and outlining a “program of action” to halt a refugee “invasion” of the city.
A supporting internet essay, co-written by Australia First’s NSW leader Jim Saleam, said: “Toowoomba is to be the subject of colonisation by African refugees drawn chiefly from Sudan.” The city began accepting Sudanese through a refugee settlement program in 2000; it’s now home to more than 1000 Sudanese, who are supported by local church and community groups. Mark Copland, chairman of the Toowoomba Catholic Social Justice Commission, says he knows Sudanese families who’ve had rocks hurled at their homes. But it’s subtle acts of racism he sees more frequently: a side remark, a sneer. “There’s an Asian woman that works in this office,” he says. “Sometimes just walking home, young people will drive in a fast car and swerve towards her. I find this unbelievable.”
In February, Premier Bligh announced a plan to direct the flow of skilled migrants to regional areas in a bid to ease population pressures on the state’s south-east. Jewell, meanwhile, accuses Australia, France, Germany and “especially Britain” of intellectual theft by stealing skilled workers from Third World nations. “If God made man and put all these different races on this world, who are we to homogenise them all? Where are we going? What is wrong with friendly competition? We need Fortress Australia,” he says.
Similar views are held by Nationalist Alternative Australia, a nationwide, Melbourne-based group of student activists formed “to be the voice for the ordinary Australian”. It aims to “reaffirm Australian cultural and national identity and restore the sovereignty and independence of the Australian nation”. One of the leaflets its members distribute through universities depicts visas on a conveyor belt, a boat in the background. “Overcrowded tutorials? Has your uni become a visa factory? Let your voice be heard with the pro-Aussie movement.” Take away the obvious issue of colour and, try as they might, these nationalist groups seem unable to pinpoint the true nature of the Australian identity they hold so dear. The NAA, for instance, tells Qweekend that “what we consider the Australian identity is generally the identity the country had prior to it becoming necessary to tell people what being Australian is”.