Denying a visa to British fascist leader Nick Griffin, who has a conviction for inciting racial hatred, would only increase the likelihood of Cronulla-style racial conflict, his supporters say.
Mr Griffin, head of the right-wing British National Party, has applied to visit Australia to address the issue of "the demographic genocide … caused by large-scale immigration of people from the Third World".
Darrin Hodges, NSW head of the Australian Protection Party, which is backing his visit, said that "having a full and frank debate was more helpful than not … and suppressing the debate leads to events like Cronulla".
Mr Hodges said Mr Griffin would speak at private forums in Sydney and Melbourne.
Anti-defamation groups opposed to the December speaking tour by Mr Griffin - a one-eyed Holocaust denier with long-standing links to right-wing groups in Europe - believe the free-speech argument has to be balanced against the harm done to local communities.
British anti-fascist activists who track his movements say Mr Griffin and the BNP have a history of fomenting racial hatred in Britain.
"Australia should not let the racist in. Nick Griffin is as dangerous to the community as any radical Islamic preacher," said Matthew Collins, a former BNP member who now works for a London anti-fascist monitoring service.
The BNP has 49 elected councillors and 51 parish councillors among Britain's 6000 local councillors.
Jo-Anne Schofield, head of Catalyst, an Australian think tank opposed to his visit, said: "The BNP is very clever at moderating its message to appear more acceptable, but scratch the surface [and] they still have a hateful message at their core. The burden of free speech is carried by the people harmed by his message."
Mr Griffin, who reportedly lost an eye when a shotgun shell he threw into a fire exploded, was denied entry to Australia in 1998.
He once described the Holocaust as the "Holohoax", saying: "I am well aware that the Orthodox opinion is that 6 million Jews were gassed and cremated and turned into lampshades. Orthodox opinion also once held that the world is flat … I have reached the conclusion that the 'extermination' tale is a mixture of Allied wartime propaganda, extremely profitable lie and latter witch hysteria."
A spokesman for the Department of Immigration said because Mr Griffin appeared on a "movement alert list" his application would not be approved electronically and would be reviewed by the department. No decision has been made yet on whether to issue him a visa.
Sydney Morning Herald