Nino Bucci April 3, 2013
The Golden Dawn party already has a presence in Melbourne. Photo: Reuters
Members of a Greek political party widely regarded as neo-Nazi - and which has been linked to dozens of violent protests - may visit Melbourne with a view to opening a local office.
The Golden Dawn party already has a presence in Melbourne, with members accused of hijacking an annual march commemorating Greek independence last week and videos showing them protesting outside State Parliament posted on YouTube.
Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor has been sent a petition calling for Golden Dawn MPs - including a man who assaulted two female political opponents during a live television debate and another with a ''sieg heil'' tattoo - to be blocked from entering Australia.
But Prime Minister Julia Gillard has indicated that the government will not stop the group, despite concerns the party aims to exploit Australian-Greeks who are disenchanted with their homeland government's austerity measures.
Alex Kakafikas, who organised the petition, said he expected high-profile MPs to travel to Australia. Ilias Kasidiaris, whose assault on left-wing politicians received worldwide attention, told Melbourne's Greek radio station 3XY about the visit during an interview in February.
Neos Kosmos, a newspaper for Melbourne's Greek population, reported last month that Ms Gillard said during the Antipodes Festival that ''we have freedom of speech and even people who have got the most repugnant views are not muzzled in Australia''.
Mr Kakafikas, who lives in Coburg, said he would not be surprised if Golden Dawn already had a paid Australian organiser.
His petition reads: ''This violent, racist, authoritarian movement has no place anywhere, but while Greece is unable or unwilling to prevent them from growing, the Australian government is in a position to prevent their members from spreading their fascist poison here.''
Mr Kakafikas said some young Greeks based in Melbourne were sympathetic to nationalism, which could make them targets for Golden Dawn. ''Whether what Kasidiaris said about them visiting and setting up an office was said out of bravado or reality, it's certainly concerning,'' he said.
''It would connect them to possible fundraising here and give nationalist Greeks here links with that movement in Greece.
''Golden Dawn have a history of violence and connecting with far-right groups in other countries to spread their beliefs.''
The president of the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria, Bill Papastergiadis, and the state Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship, Nicholas Kotsiras, are among those who have voiced their concerns about Golden Dawn in Neos Kosmos.
Golden Dawn did not respond to requests for comment.