‘We need to talk about right-wing terrorists’: Labor’s Anthony Byrne

“We have taken [ASIO director Duncan Lewis’] views and his agencies’ very seriously for some time,” the source said.

But Victorian Labor MP Anthony Byrne, who is deputy chair of Parliament’s powerful intelligence committee, said Australia’s political leaders needed to do more to publicly condemn right-wing extremists, warning hate speech had been allowed to become mainstream.

“What this horrific terrorist attack demonstrates is this what right -wing terrorists are capable of and our need to talk about that,” he told The Australian Financial Review.

“The agencies have been warning politicians about right-wing extremism for some time. The only people who haven’t been listening are our politicians.

“There has been too much tolerance of what passes for hate speech in this country.”

“Purveyors of hate speech are welcomed on national media and not called out on that.”

Australian Security Intelligence Organisation director general Duncan Lewis told a Senate hearing last October that right-wing extremist threats existed in Australia but “it is coming off a very low base”.

“We are very cognisant of this new vector, if you like, or re-emergence of a vector that has appeared from time to time. I wouldn’t say that it’s a lot worse; they’re probably a little bit better organised than they have been in the past, but we are monitoring this very, very closely.”

The Prime Minister and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten pledged peace and unity in strongly condemning the anti-Muslim attack, which Mr Morrison emphasised was committed by an “extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist”.

Both leaders visited Islamic faith centres over the weekend out of respect for the Muslim community.

The government and Labor on Sunday jointly published a Senate motion calling on “all Australians to stand against hate and to publicly, and always, condemn actions and comments designed to incite fear and distrust”.

Government Senate leader Mathias Cormann and his Labor counterpart, Penny Wong, also censured Queensland Senator Fraser Anning for his “inflammatory and divisive comments seeking to attribute blame to victims of a horrific crime and to vilify people on the basis of religion, which do not reflect the opinions of the Australian Senate or the Australian people”.

Senator Anning provoked widespread uproar for his claim that “the real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place.”

Addressing a right-wing rally in Melbourne on Saturday, Senator Anning had an egg smashed on the back of his head by a 17-year-old youth.

The teenager was struck twice in the face by the divisive senator and tackled to the ground by the politician’s supporters.

Mr Morrison, said Senator Anning should face the “full force of the law” for his actions.

Mr Shorten said it was “stupid” to egg the senator because it risked giving him the moral high ground.

“But I also saw the footage of the extremist, right-wing thugs,” Mr Shorten said.

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