Neo-Nazis. That’s what the so-called ‘activists’ who used St Kilda as a place to create division and mayhem are, and that’s what they should be called.

Some dismiss these people as fringe, or thugs – stupid men who pose no real threat to a vibrant, multicultural Australia. But we should not ignore the inherent danger that underlies these men (and they are almost exclusively men) parading about in Nazi paraphernalia and imitating Nazi symbols.

The ‘rally’ in St Kilda was about racial and religious abuse. It was aimed at people of colour, migrants and those of the Jewish and Muslim faith.

Fascism, totalitarianism and the loss of rights starts when we allow minorities and ‘others’ to be portrayed as the reason for problems in society. In Nazi Germany, it was Jewish people blamed for Germany’s woes. In the USA, Trump is blaming Mexicans and South American refugees. Here in Australia, a large country with a relatively small population by world standards, the far-right are blaming migrants for everything, from traffic congestion to crime.

Logic, facts, and reason are wasted on these neo-Nazi types. They wouldn’t understand the perversity of draping themselves in the Aussie flag while chanting support for the evil regime that killed so many Australian soldiers. They wouldn’t understand the irony of attacking multiculturalism while eating a kebab they bought in ethnically diverse St Kilda.

They have no interest in debate or discourse. Their agenda is based on creating violence and fear. For now, I’ll leave it to others to analyse why these people are attracted to the far-right, but whatever their motivation, we must not dismiss the threat they pose here in Melbourne as insignificant.

The response from our mainstream political leaders was underwhelming. This isn’t the time for polite statements about inclusiveness or soft media releases that won’t mention names or use the word ‘Nazi’. If you dress as a German SS officer, and salute in a tribute to Adolph Hitler, then you are a neo-Nazi. And if Senator Fraser Anning stands alongside these people, then he too must be called out for what he is – a far-right extremist who flew to Melbourne ($2,500+ of taxpayers funds) to foment division and race hate. Anning is a blight on our Federal Parliament and the Morrison Government should publicly vow never to have any dealings with him.

The seat of Macnamara is now the focus of world-wide attention on how Australia will confront the rise of far-right extremism. We must see this clear and definite threat to civil society treated as such. Fascism and race-hate must to called out and stopped before it spreads.

We have a moral duty to stand alongside our fellow citizens, to be there for those who can’t be, and to take a public stand against the rise of neo-Nazi and far-right extremism.