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The siege of Sandy Creek: SA Far-Right Group emerges

Written by: (Contributed) on 28 September 2021


A siege, at Sandy Creek outside Gawler in South Australia which included heavily armed STAR Group police officers, has shown how a far-right US-led political organisation has established a presence in Australia; possibly a relatively long time ago.

Hiding behind a series of strange, almost nonsensical claims, Australian-based representatives of the Sovereign Citizens Movement (SCM) appear active on a number of political fronts. A closer study of their organisation has revealed their close involvement with other sections of the far-right and anti-working class political positions.

In late September, a routine police investigation and audit of firearms at a Sandy Creek property was met with a hostile response from two local people resulting in a stand-off lasting two hours. Heavily armed STAR Group police officers were called and kept on standby with fears being raised of armed conflict taking place. (1) Two arrests were eventually made with charges being laid about failure to comply with conditions of fire-arms licensing, insecure ammunition storage together with other related charges.

While the police noted a number of signs posted around the property with unusual claims and demands, not much coverage was provided about the SCM. The two people arrested had involvement with the organisation, which is officially on an FBI watch-list for criminal association with murders, threatening government officials, impersonating police officers, using fake currency and identification papers and other scams. (2)

Emerging in the early 1970s from part of the far-right John Birch Society, the SCM was established by William Gale along the lines of a number of similar white supremacist political groups. Its claims about white nationalism and Christian Patriots were fairly typical and usually closely associated with the Apartheid regime in South Africa. (3) In fact, studies of the South African secret police during the same period revealed a world-wide network of front organisations used to support South Africa which was financed by secret funding from official government budgets. (4)

The SCM believe the US governmental system is not legitimate and were one of the groups responsible for the storming of Capital Hill in order to disrupt the Biden administration after former President Trump was voted out of office. They also only recognise common law and not any government statutes, legislation or regulations; a political stand-point which would appear to resemble a far-right form of anarchism.

It is important to note while the SCM hide behind seemingly alternative styles of political association with reference to Peoples Peace Alliance, they have a very high terrorist rating in the US. (5) The use of 'false flags' is a common practice with far-right groups; they seek to raise strategies of tension through pseudo-operations to divert attention. It is, invariably, accompanied by the use of agents in other organisations as a means of creating conspiracies with their clandestine operations and dirty tricks; 'black-bag jobs', using intelligence jargon.

Perhaps the best example of the far-right strategy was the notorious Aginter Press organisation established by the so-called World Anti-Communist League (WACL) in the mid-1960s. Documents from the organisation reveal the strategy to be aimed at primarily creating chaos and the structure of society 'under the cover of Communist and pro-Soviet activities' in order to make way for the far-right to seize power. (6)

It is quite likely the SCM and their close associates have been quietly organising in Australia for many years. The John Birch Society and their associates established links with their Australian counterparts decades ago through the Australian League of Rights (ALOR) which was based in South Australia. (7) The ALOR also had strong links with the Apartheid regime in South Africa and the white supremacist government in Rhodesia and were supporters of racial segregation in the US.

In fact, in 1967 when opposition to Apartheid was becoming more vocal, ALOR leader Eric Butler was actually employed by the regime in Pretoria specifically to train the Security Police; as a figure associated with the 'Friends of Rhodesia' he was financed to visit South Africa and made welcome by government officials and given open access to the inner workings of the repressive state apparatus and intelligence services. (8)

The ALOR has also continued to be the main Australian affiliate with the World League for Freedom and Democracy (WLFD) which evolved from the former WACL following name changes in 1990. (9) It has continued to operate through affiliates which remain shadowy figures lurking behind sealed websites only accessible with codes. One well-known associate is John Howard, one of yesterday's men who has refused to stand-down.

The Taipei-based WLFD has extensive links with para-military type organisations around the world and would appear central to a world-wide network of far-right groups, many of which maintain seemingly respectable fronts in corporate bodies and parliamentary systems, including Australia. (10) It is no great surprise to find many of their supporters have active involvement with fire-arms.

It is also highly relevant to note the use of 'false flags' by many far-right groups; in Australia, for example, one of their front organisations operated under the cover of the International Ecology Movement, a seemingly left-wing group although a front for the far-right. (11) It would, presumably, have been used for intelligence-gathering amongst left-wing organisations which were also driven by alternative life-styles.

While at first glance the political positions of the SCM appear ridiculous, a closer observation shows that by attacking government legislation and regulations they are seeking to promote the freedom of the corporate sector and business community to reduce and eliminate the protection used by the working class in their work-places: Awards, EBAs, OHS legislation, Workcover, to identify but a few. The ultimate aim of the SCM is to lower wages, reduce terms and conditions of employment and reduce safety legislation.

The SCM would appear a relatively comfortable fit inside the corporate sector and business community'; to date, there has been no criticism of the organisation from the SA State or federal government and their business lobbies and associates following the siege and arrests at Sandy Creek. The police, however, have acknowledged the SCM, in several states, have been under surveillance.  

Their advocacy of common-law as opposed to government legislation has also carried something faintly reminiscent of the Work Choices legislation of the previous Howard coalition government in Canberra. Their advocacy, likewise, of common-law procedures openly favour the right and powerful at the expense of the working-class who usually cannot afford expensive litigation.

It is also no surprise, furthermore, to find the SCM active in the recent anti-vaxxer rallies in Australia together with other far-right groups. It has been noted the language of the SCM has become increasingly common in the anti-vaxxer movement. (12) They are using difficulties arising with the COVID-19 pandemic to implement a strategy of tension. (13)

1.     Sandy Creek Stand Off, The Advertiser (Adelaide), 24 September 2021.

2.     SCM., FBI., 13 April 2010.

3.     See: The Gospel Defence League, A critical analysis of a right wing Christian group in South Africa, Roger A. Arendse, Journal of Theology for Southern Africa, Volume 69, (December 1989), pp. 95-105.

4.     See: Inside BOSS, Gordon Winter, (London, 1981), Chapter 39, pp. 526-541, which has provided a graphic account of foreign agents, front organisations, compliant political organisations, links with churches, criminals, mercenaries, and intelligence-gathering techniques; and, ibid., Muldergate, page 106.  

5.     Wikipedia: SCM.

6.     Wikipedia: Aginter Press.

7.     The Australian League of Rights, A study of political extremism and subversion,  Andrew A. Campbell, (Victoria, 1978), Appendix C, page 170, which has provided a chart showing how the ALOR has been linked to counterparts elsewhere, including the John Birch Society in the United States.

8.     Efforts of Australian Anti-Red, front page spread, The Star, (South Africa), 15 July 1967.

9.     Inside the League, Scott Anderson and Jon Lee Anderson, (New York, 1986), page 276.

10.   Ibid., page 59; and, Old Nazis, the New Right, and the Republic Party, Russ Bellant, (Boston, 1988).

11.   Ibid., Inside the League, page 59.

12.   Rise of 'sovereign citizen' movement, The Advertiser (Adelaide), 24 September 2021.

13.   'Infiltrated': Far-right, anti-vaxxer groups promoted Melbourne protests, The New Daily, 21 September 2021.


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