Australia has for the first time listed a right-wing extremist organisation as a terrorist group, paving the way for investigations and possible jailings of members.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton is listing the Sonnenkrieg Division – also known as SKD – under the criminal code, joining the likes of Islamic State and al-Qaeda.
Members of the group have been convicted for plotting to attack the British royal family, as well as disseminating terrorist material.
Mr Dutton said the listing reflected the government’s commitment to stamping out violence and extremism of all kinds, regardless of ideology or motivation.
“SKD adheres to an abhorrent, violent ideology that encourages lone-wolf terrorist actors who would seek to cause significant harm to our way of life and our country,” Mr Dutton said on Monday.
“Members of SKD have already been convicted of terrorist offences in the United Kingdom, including encouraging terrorism, preparing for a terrorist attack and possession and dissemination of terrorist material.”
The listing enables all available terrorist offences and penalties to apply to the organisation, including up to 25 years in jail for some offences.
ASIO boss Mike Burgess said last week ideological extremism investigations had grown from a third of the intelligence agency’s caseload to 40 per cent.
“People often think we’re talking about skinheads with swastika tattoos and jackboots roaming the backstreets like extras from Romper Stomper, but it’s no longer that obvious,” he said in a speech.
“Today’s ideological extremist is more likely to be motivated by a social or economic grievance than national socialism.
“More often than not, they are young, well-educated, articulate, and middle class – and not easily identified.”
Labor has been urging the government to start listing right-wing extremist groups.
But the government has insisted it was waiting for advice from ASIO.
Until Monday, Australia was the only country inside the Five Eyes intelligence network – which includes the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand – not to have labelled any right-wing extremists as terrorists.