Sunday, October 29, 2006

Nazi propagandist Urbancic and Liberal hard man dies after 30 powerful years

Nazi propagandist and Liberal hard man dies after 30 powerful years
By Jonathan Pearlman
February 23, 2006

The Uglies' leader, Lyenko Urbancic.

IN THE end, though his murky past threw a dark shadow over the party for almost 30 years, Lyenko Urbancic was never forced to hand in his membership of the NSW Liberal Party.

An avid anti-Communist who was outed in the 1970s as a former Nazi propagandist, Urbancic died yesterday in Sydney. He was still a member of the party and attended a State Council meeting last year.

The party never succeeded in expelling the Yugoslav-born, right-wing, Slovenian nationalist. Nor did it end the influence of his faction, "the Uglies", which he helped create in the 1970s to restore backbone to the party.

Urbancic's rapid rise in the party ended in 1979, when he was exposed in a radio program as a former Nazi propagandist in Yugoslavia. He was briefly suspended from the party while investigations were conducted, but denied the claims and narrowly avoided expulsion.

In 1986, he told a Sydney newspaper: "I never said 'Heil Hitler', I never put a Nazi uniform on, I never greeted in the Nazi way."

But Urbancic never disguised his efforts to lead a right-wing faction to attack the party's small-l liberal members and influence its policies on drugs, homosexuals and law and order.

In the mid-1980s, the Uglies were believed to control about a quarter of the State Council's delegates. But the Uglies never took complete control of the party. In 1988, the Liberals were restored to power by a Hungarian of Jewish ancestry, Nick Greiner, who distanced himself from claims that the party was under the control of neo-Nazis.

The Liberals have found it difficult to shake off the association with extremists, or fears by the party's moderates that a right-wing insurgency may prevail.

The fears resurfaced last year after David Clarke, an upper house MP, helped to lead a re-emergence of the party's right faction. This prompted one of his Liberal colleagues, Patricia Forsythe, to claim on ABC TV that the party risked being captured by extremists and zealots.

Mr Clarke said last year he was not ashamed of his friendship with Mr Urbancic. He was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Liberal powerbroker and harbinger of the new right Lyenko Urbanchich Dies aged 83

2 March 2006

Lyenko Urbanchich has died aged 83. Urbanchich came to Australia after WWII to escape accountability for his actions in support of Nazi Germany during that war.

He found a comfortable place in the bosom of the Liberal Party, ever happy to embrace, as “good anti-communists”, the slime and filth oozing out from the collapse of the fascist Axis, the blood of atrocities still dripping from their hands.

The Nazi scum of Europe set up movements that aped their organisations in their countries of origin – the Croatian Ustasha, Hungarian Arrow Cross, Romanian Iron Guard, Slovakian Hlinka Guard and the Domobrans, the SS controlled Slovenian militia.

Groups derived from former members of these were organised with the tacit support of the Menzies and successor Liberal governments, and of course ASIO.

Many of these officials of the quisling regimes of occupied Europe joined the Liberal Party, and by 1960 pro-Nazis like Urbancic started to hold significant power over preselection of parliamentary candidates.

In 1961 Garfield Barwick, future High Court Chief Justice and Menzies' attorney-general, declared “The time has come to close the chapter, allow men to turn their backs on past bitternesses and make new lives for themselves and for their familes in a happier community. Those who have made their homes here must be able to live, in security, new lives under the rule of law”.

Lyenko Urbanchich a former Slovenian Domobrans commander who had produced pro-Nazi propaganda and incited atrocities against Jews, Gypsies and resistance partisans in Slovenia was one of the leading nazi figures to emerge after this 'amnesty'.

By the early 70s he headed the “Liberal Ethnic Council”, the front for the European fascists in the party. Together with local fascists from the League of Rights his faction, known as the "Uglies", in NSW controlled up to 30 per cent of the Liberal Party State Council votes.

Although exposure by journalist Mark Aarons in 1979 forced Urbanchic into the background, the Uglies continued to exercise considerable power in the Liberal Party, and are a key part of the power base of Tony Abbot, Bronwyn Bishop and John Howard.

Why Nazis still call Australia home
6 June 2001 Phil Shanon - Green Left

War Criminals Welcome: Australia, A Sanctuary for War Criminals since 1945
By Mark Aarons
Black Inc, 2001
649 pp, $34.95 (pb)

When Justice minister Amanda Vanstone said that the alleged Latvian war criminal Konrads Kalejs was “welcome” to stay in Australia, it was a revealing slip of the tongue.

Since 1947, when the first Nazi war criminals arrived in Australia, “successive governments have knowingly allowed hundreds of men responsible for the cruel imprisonment, torture, rape and mass execution of tens of thousands of innocent civilians to make Australia home”. This is the damning conclusion of Mark Aarons' book on how and why Labor and Liberal governments have allowed Nazi killers into Australia and protected them.

When the first European refugees arrived in Australia after the second world war, under the displaced persons migration scheme, their number included dozens of fascist collaborators from central and eastern Europe. Amongst them were officers, like Kalejs, of the Arajs Kommando, the Nazi-controlled Latvian security police, a volunteer police auxiliary which, by mass shootings, mobile gas vans or deportation to concentration camps, wiped out Latvia's 70,000 Jews and murdered other racial, religious and political targets of the Nazis.

There were also Croatian fascists, whose cruelty is said to have sickened even hardened German Nazis. One of them was Srecko Rover, alleged to be the fanatical officer in charge of a mobile killing unit which massacred Jews, Serbs and, especially, communist-led partisans in the Balkans. Recruited by US intelligence before arriving in Australia in 1950, Rover immediately began a decades-long career as an ASIO agent and organiser of terrorist operations against left-wing migrants and President Josep Bros Tito's communist Yugoslav government.

How did these killers slip through the screening process which was supposed to weed out war criminals from genuine refugees? Post-war confusion, incompetence, diffidence and corruption by Allied immigration officials in Europe were partly to blame. But more important was the Cold War political climate.

Many anti-socialist conservatives thought the Allies had fought the wrong war (it should have been with Hitler against Stalin). Australia's attorney-general Bob Menzies in the 1930s was an admirer of the Nazi state as a bulwark against “atheistic Bolshevism”. The Nazi war criminals may have been anti-Semitic mass murderers but they were anti-communists and therefore welcome.

These Nazis found a ready champion in ASIO. Allied intelligence agencies gave the Nazis a clean bill of health in the screening process, allowing them to assume false identities or lie about their past, and frequently recruiting them as agents. ASIO put them to use as spies and covert operatives against the migrant left.

When Australian governments were forced to investigate suspected war criminals, they happily relied on ASIO which was far more interested in putting Nazis on the payroll than investigating their crimes. When the Yugoslav government requested the extradition of Milorad Lukic and Mihailo Rajkovic in 1951 for their fascist war crimes at POW camps, the head of ASIO in Western Australia reported that the two men, ardent anti-communists and supporters of Menzies, “represent a body of Yugoslavs who cause infinitely less trouble to this organisation than the great body of their fellow immigrants”, as well as providing “invaluable assistance to ASIO”, as ASIO boss Charles Spry wrote to the head of the Commonwealth Department of External Affairs.

Post-war Labor and Liberal governments ignored mounting evidence of Nazi arrivals. Refugees, immigration staff, crew members of US Army transport ships and even ASIO's predecessor, the Commonwealth Investigation Service, reported anti-Semitic incidents, including serious assaults, on the refugee ships and in the migrant reception camps and hostels. The blood group tattoos, or scars from their removal, observed under the left armpit were a giveaway of SS membership. Nazi memorabilia, such as Hitler statues and swastikas, were regularly seized in the migrant camps.

When the import of Nazis turned to the so-called Volkdeutsche, ethnic Germans expelled from Stalinist Europe under the terms of the post-war settlement, many brought with them not only trade skills for major infrastructure projects but Nazi ideology and a past of war crimes committed in support of the invading German armies.

On the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme, for example, an Auschwitz survivor recognised an SS officer who had served at the camp. At the Commonwealth Railways project in Port Augusta, Nazi cells were seen doing drills, giving “Heil Hitler” salutes and assaulting other migrants.

All these reports were angrily dismissed by Arthur Calwell, the ALP immigration minister, as “gross and wicked falsehoods”. His Liberal successor, Harold Holt, denigrated the Jewish community's charges that Nazis were active in Australia as those of a minority sectional interest.

Both Labor and Liberal governments conducted a systematic cover-up of the import of Nazis to hide their connivance in assisting them into Australia to counter the left.

The Liberals were least shy about openly embracing their new anti-communist buddies. A Hungarian fascist was president of the Hungarian branch of the New Australian Liberal and Country Movement. Following the establishment by Nazi emigres in Australia in 1957 of the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations (ABN), a peak body of ultra-right migrant groups, senior Liberal politicians flocked to support it. Victorian Premier Henry Bolte and prime ministers John Gorton, Billy McMahon and Malcolm Fraser were just a few who shared platforms down the decades with their fascist hosts whom they extolled as noble anti-communist “freedom fighters”.

The first ABN president, a Hungarian mayor who organised and participated in the murder of his town's 18,000 Jews, was a wanted war criminal, known to ASIO, who nevertheless became a prominent member of the Liberals' Migrant Advisory Council.

In the 1970s, the Nazi emigres became entrenched in the NSW branch of the Liberal Party. Heading a powerful, extreme-right, pro-fascist faction (dubbed the “Uglies”) was Leo Urbancic, a senior Nazi propagandist in Slovenia during the war. Such propaganda created a climate that made the mass killing of Jews, communists and Allied soldiers acceptable.

In 1961, when Liberal federal attorney-general Garfield Barwick announced that the government had “closed the chapter” on war criminals in Australia, an amnesty was in effect granted to Nazi murderers. This was presented, with twisted Cold War logic, as a triumph of democracy over “Communism”, the government trumpeting the “right of asylum” as its excuse for rejecting the Soviet Union and Eastern European countries' requests for the extradition of war criminals. It was one in the eye for the evil Reds. The Labor “opposition”, which did not want to be seen as “soft” on communism, remained silent on the amnesty.

It took 40 years before an Australian government formally recognised the fact that Nazi war criminals were in Australia. In 1986, Labor Prime Minister Bob Hawke, under pressure created by Aarons' exposure of Nazi war criminals in an ABC radio series, established the Special Investigations Unit to track down Nazis for prosecution in Australia under an amended War Crimes Act.

However, because of the evidence trail having grown cold, the age of key witnesses and accused, and a lack of bureaucratic support, only three of the 800 suspects who were investigated were brought to trial, none successfully (thanks to obstructionist judges and prosecution blunders). Hawke also prevented the SIU from investigating ASIO's role in protecting and employing Nazi war criminals. Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating pulled the plug on the unit in 1992.

Australia remains the only Western country with a significant Nazi war criminal problem which has no legislation to allow the deportation of suspects for trial in their homelands. The Howard government did pass legislation to deal with war criminals who arrived in Australia after 1997 (50 years behind the times as usual).

Only the Kalejs case has disturbed the complacent political waters, embarrassing the government into rushing through an extradition treaty between Australia and Latvia.

For more than 50 years, the Australian Governments has opened its doors and closed its eyes to fugitive Nazi mass killers. Aarons' book is a solid, impressively documented indictment of successive Labor and Liberal governments', top public servants' and the spy agencies' complicity in harbouring Nazis and war criminals.

Far right puts fear of God into Young Libs

By Peter Wilmoth
September 4, 2005 SMH

When Liberal MP Victor Perton learnt last month that the Young Liberals, the group of which he was once Victorian state president, had put a motion to end a long-held policy of mandatory gender equality in the party, he heard alarm bells. The bells became louder on learning that, at the same meeting, a motion was put calling on the Howard Government to send undercover agents to kidnap or kill those responsible for the Bali bombing.

"It alerted everyone to the fact that there was a problem that many of us thought had been solved a while back. Putting a motion for entering a foreign country with assassination squads is the stuff of undergraduate pamphlets, not a serious policy-making body. And why would we take away a symbol of equality of the sexes? To me there were more important battles to fight."

Mr Perton is one Liberal prepared to speak on the record about the coverage the Young Liberal's behaviour has generated in the press (it's preselection time in November, which means no boat-rocking). But in the voices of many of his publicly dismissive, privately seething colleagues, you can hear the nervousness and the anger at "ill-thought out and unrepresentative" views that could damage the party.

Other Young Liberal motions put recently have included a call on Malcolm Fraser to resign his Liberal Party life membership and to condemn Liberal MP Petro Georgiou for his moderate stance on detainees. And the headlines have turned into headaches.

It became worse this week when Alex Hawke, 27, the national president of the Young Liberals, was named by former NSW Liberal leader John Brogden as the person responsible for telling journalists about Mr Brogden's drunken antics, which led to his resignation on Monday. Mr Brogden is in hospital after an apparent attempt at self-harm.

Mr Hawke has denied spreading the stories. Despite agreeing to an interview, he did not return calls by The Sunday Age.

Mr Hawke, a leading figure on the Young Liberals' right and tipped as a future MP, believes Mr Brogden was too liberal on issues such as republicanism, abortion, heroin injecting rooms and homosexuality, and had called for "renewal" in the party.

The views of Mr Hawke and other ultra-conservatives are causing anger within the Young Liberal movement, especially within the moderate Victorian branch. "The motions being put are certainly not views endorsed by the greater movement," says Andrew Higgs, a policy assembly delegate for the Victorian division of the Liberal Party. "I think the motions are absolutely disgusting and not consistent with the parliamentary policy platform. They unstitch the great work Menzies did to be inclusive of women and other important groups in the community."

Mr Higgs said views such as the motion to kill the Bali bombers were damaging to the State Liberals. "I'm asking Robert Doyle to pull in the reins of the Victorian Young Liberal leadership."

All this is quite a way from the old image of the Young Liberals as well-groomed conservatives out to meet like-minded members of the opposite sex. Since its inception 60 years ago, the Young Liberals has been a nursery for new talent (Andrew Peacock, Peter Reith and Robert Hill were all Young Libs), not to mention a training ground for those interested in parliamentary careers.

There has always been conflict within the ranks. The difference now is that the movement is dominated by the ultra-conservative Christian right, pushing extremist values.

"There's always been the right, the left, dry and wets in the movement, but not this 'We meet on Sunday and determine a moral agenda'," said a former Young Liberal figure. "It's causing some party members to be concerned that it's taking on an extreme and almost irresponsible feel about it."

Among the new Young Liberal hate figures is, with his moderate stance on social issues and attacks on the Howard Government, former prime minister Malcolm Fraser. "He is without doubt the worst prime minister Australia's ever had," West Australian Young Liberal president Matt Eggleston recently said, according to The Monthly magazine. He called for Fraser's resignation because of his "abominable disloyalty".

The demonisation of Fraser is consistent with a policy platform that flirts with the political extreme. In May, national president Alex Hawke told a newspaper: "Nobody joins the Liberal Party to be left-wing. If you stand for compulsory student unionism, drug-injecting rooms and lowering the (homosexual) age of consent, you can choose the Greens, Labor or the Democrats."

Health Minister Tony Abbott supports the Young Liberals, giving up part of his summer holiday each year to speak at the national conference. Abbott was never a member, instead being part of the conservative Sydney University Liberal Club. "The Young Libs in those days were constant critics of the Fraser Government, ironically enough for being too right-wing, and basically supported the usual centre-left causes — gay rights, drug law reform," he said.

"The Young Libs these days would be — to use a tag — to the right of the party. I don't think that's a bad thing. I think that's a good thing."

A bitter rift is playing itself out between the moderates in the Young Liberals and the Christian right in the Australian Liberal Students Federation. Says a former senior YL figure: "It's being driven a lot by personality fights in NSW and this weird influence of the Christian right, although I'd say it's a bit demeaning to call it Christian, call it religious right."

Mr Hawke touched on the influence of religion when he recently told The Monthly magazine: "The two greatest forces for good in human history are capitalism and Christianity and when they're blended it's a very powerful duo."

According to ALSF president Julian Barendse, the group forms "the most dynamic student political movement" on campus.

"In Victoria, Young Liberals have traditionally been less interested in policy debate and more interested in social functions," Mr Barendse told The Sunday Age. Asked whether the recent controversial motions were taken seriously, Mr Barendse said: "This is a forum which has 16-year-old high school students in it — it's not exactly a think tank."

Mr Barendse said it was different federally, and he had a warm relationship with Mr Hawke, who was doing "a very good job".

So who are these new warriors of the Christian right? Some are working at the heart of mainstream politics as advisers for federal or state ministers, giving them positioning for political contact. Mr Hawke is a staffer for the ultra-conservative NSW MP David Clarke. The Young Liberal president and vice-president get to sit on the party's federal executive five or six times a year and have direct contact with the Prime Minister, the Treasurer and the executive. They have a vote each.

Asked if the extreme views reflected poorly on the party, a senior Victorian Liberal said: "Extremes always worry me."

So, if they're being embarrassing, what can be done? "The last few weeks has been a reality check for them," said one former Young Liberal figure. "You've got to have an exuberant group of young supporters, but you wouldn't want the immature or opportunists to rise to the top."

NSW zealots wrest control
By Frank Walker The Age
September 4, 2005

THE advancing army of clean-cut arch-conservative Young Liberals has its first scalp in John Brogden, and has delivered control of the NSW Liberal Party to the hard right.

It has been a relentless and methodical four-year campaign led by Young Liberal leader Alex Hawke, 27, and the man he works for, Catholic Right Liberal MP David Clarke, to oust moderates from the party.

New NSW Opposition leader Peter Debnam owes his win to numbers organised by Mr Clarke. Moderates in the party fear Mr Debnam won't be able to resist their demands for a marked shift to the right.

Liberal preselections start next month and up to six moderates stand to lose their seats after branch-stacking efforts. Upper house MPs John Ryan, Patricia Forsythe and Don Harwin seem set to go, as do another three lower house moderates.

Ms Forsythe told the ABC on Friday that the "extreme religious right" were determining preselections with an agenda devoid of human decency, tolerance and compassion.

"There are extremists and zealots who have got a lot of power inside the Liberal Party at the moment and ordinary members and ordinary people standing up for their positions, standing up for the policies that they think are important, are quite capable of being swept aside."

Mr Brogden pointed an accusing finger at Mr Hawke as he resigned, saying Mr Hawke was behind efforts to undermine him and that he "needs to take a good hard look at himself".

Mr Hawke denied the accusation, saying he had not spoken to any journalist about Mr Brogden's behaviour before it became public.

"To ascribe any role to me in this embarrassing episode is false and I reject it totally," he said.

Mr Hawke had been a critic of Mr Brogden, particularly over his support for the Kings Cross drug injecting room and lowering the age of consent for homosexuals.

Four years ago Mr Hawke and an evangelical Christian Right wrested control of the Young Liberals from the moderates, who had dominated the youth group. Angry moderates last week described methods used by the new arch-conservative Young Liberals as ruthless, militaristic and bullying.

"The Young Libs are now run like a military operation," said one member. "David Clarke is the general and Alex Hawke is the colonel with all these burly sergeants out in the field organising standover operations, branch stackings and recruiting."

Young Liberal numbers in Sydney have swelled from a few hundred to around 3000 in the past four years. Last year the Right signed up 80 Christian Young Libs to start a Punchbowl Branch, to try to obtain one more vote in upper house preselections. When 200 moderates arrived to sign up, police were called as a mini-riot broke out. The branch was abandoned.

"Moderate Young Liberals are afraid to go to Young Liberal Council meetings as they are ridiculed, shouted down and bullied by the Alex Hawke-led hard right," said one Young Lib.

A moderate Liberal MP said that "David Clarke told them … that moderates in the party were sympathetic to the Muslims. The Right hoped to win the parliamentary party in one or two elections, but now they have already grabbed it."
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