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The transnational element of a ‘domestic’ problem: policy solutions to countering right-wing violent extremism in Australia

By Diane Liang

The rise of right-wing violent extremist (RWE) ideas bursts to the forefront of public attention in flashes of violence. Shootings and vehicular attacks perpetrated by individuals motivated by hateful views stun the public. They have also sharpened government attention to and galvanised action on addressing such violence.

These incidents of violence and these disturbing trends call for renewed vigilance in confronting RWE, which ASIO has since classified as ‘ideologically motivated violent extremism’ (IMVE), in Australia’s security agencies’ policy and law enforcement responses. As governments respond to IMVE, it is important to nuance how they conceptualise the challenges posed by RWE and, therefore, scope their solutions.

This report looks at four case studies, qualitative interviews, and expert literature to highlight important transnational dimensions of RWE, as well as expand the way governments understand the RWE threat and craft policy responses to it.

The result shows a clear need for governments to take a broader lens when understanding and responding to RWE. While governments may conventionally see terrorism in 'domestic' versus 'international' terms, RWE attackers and their sources and legacies of inspiration are not bound by national borders. Efforts to address RWE, then, should take into account these transnational dimensions while examining the challenge at hand and developing and implementing solutions.

The report’s recommendations point to early steps Australia can take to improve international collaboration and coordination on countering RWE. Our approaches and solutions must recognise this threat to democracy and include efforts to bolster resilience in democratic institutions and processes. Public trust and confidence in these institutions and processes is a critical element of this resilience to mis/disinformation broadly, and the violent extremism it enables. This report shows that it’s not only important for governments to take RWE seriously, it matters how governments do so.