ADAM STEER, PRESENTER: Proud boys, far right, neo fascist and exclusively male hate group that promotes and engages in political violence in the United States. They have been banned from most social media platforms. And the United States Justice Department announced back in February an indictment of members for conspiracy relating to the 2021 United States Capitol attack. Unfortunately, it looks like the tentacles of the Proud Boys have stretched all the way to the other side of the globe, in fact, all the way to Darwin in recent times. Labor's Northern Territory Senator Malarndirri McCarthy was one of the first to be made aware of the Proud Boy's activity. Senator McCarthy, welcome back to ABC Radio Darwin. Explain to me, how did this come to your attention?
SENATOR MALARNDIRRI MCCARTHY: Good morning, Adam. Good morning to your listeners. I had some flyers brought to my attention from residents in the Palmerston area, and these flyers were put into letterboxes in most of the suburbs around Palmerston, from my understanding. And as soon as I read the flyer, Adam, I was immediately alarmed at this call by this particular group to recruit and set up a chapter here.
ADAM STEER: What did the flyer exactly say?
MCCARTHY: Well, it goes into detail about what it is, what kind of group it is, I think. And then it also calls on people to contact it, to join the membership of the west white male chauvinists in terms of a new chapter here in the Territory.
STEER: And were they, what type of contact information were they leaving there? Was that an email? Was it a telephone number?
MCCARTHY: An email from memory. I don't have the flyer right with me now, but yeah, it was an email address.
STEER: OK, well, what did you do next once you were made aware of that, considering that the United States Justice Department has announced indictment for members for a conspiracy relating to the United States capital attack?
MCCARTHY: I wrote immediately to the police commissioner to bring it to his attention in the Northern Territory police as well as the Northern Territory police minister. I'm very concerned about this particular group setting up anywhere in Australia, let alone in the Northern Territory, and for Territorians to be vigilant about the nature of what this group and its values are all about. We've seen Canada legislate against it and treat it as a terrorist group. We've seen the concerns with the United States and we also now know what's going on in various parts of our country.
STEER: Do you know who's behind this, Senator?
MCCARTHY: No, I don't personally, Adam. I just know that the group itself is one that all Territorians need to be aware of and vigilant about. And I would say don't become a part of this group. Reject it outright. It is about hate and division. And I would just urge absolute caution to Territorians before they even thought of dabbling with this group.
STEER: Malarndirri McCarthy is the Northern Territory's Labor senator. You're on ABC Radio, Darwin. Adam Steer with you this morning. It is ten to nine. Senator, you say you wrote to the police commissioner here in the Northern Territory. Have you received a response?
MCCARTHY: Not at this stage. I wrote to the police commissioner on Tuesday evening. So yesterday I understand he was out across the Territory. But my issue here, Adam, was bringing the attention to major authorities in the Northern Territory that this is a serious issue. This is a group that must be treated seriously. This is not a joke. This is important that we do not let people who are, you know, kind of encourage hate and division. That's not the Territory I want and that's certainly not the Australia I want. And so I moved very swiftly and quickly on this and it will continue to do so.
STEER: And what would you like to see happen here, though, Senator?
MCCARTHY: Well, it's a case of Territorians being aware that this is a serious matter. Don't get involved here. The rest is up to the police authorities. It's up to them to investigate. It's up to them to look at what this group may or may not be doing. I'm very aware of the legal rights of citizens in our country. So naturally, until something happens, that's really up to the police, that this is about me bringing to the attention of Territorians, urging them not to to be caught up with this group. It's just not the path we should be going down.
STEER: You've just heard from the CFMEU Northern Territory organiser Kane Lowth, who has said his union was pro-choice when it comes to vaccines, is that the right position for a Labor-aligned union, considering the position of the Chief Minister?
MCCARTHY: Oh, look, this has been an interesting sort of debate from the get go, Adam. We knew it was sort of going in this direction, but the unions have to represent their members and if this is the position of their members and their concerns, well, then that's what the unions are there for.
STEER: OK, so do you do you support mandatory vaccines for construction workers?
MCCARTHY: I've raised concerns about the fact that anything's mandatory. What we've said with vaccines is that this is about choice. People going to their local doctors checking if it works for them. Naturally, I'm encouraging people to take the vaccine from the sense of seeing the disaster unfolding in New South Wales around Delta, especially in the western New South Wales communities there. Naturally, we want people to make the decisions themselves, but we have to give them all the information. And one of the biggest criticisms here, Adam, is that the communication is not been there, not even in the languages appropriately. And that is where I've been pushing. People need to be informed to make the right decisions for themselves.
STEER: So you don't support mandatory vaccinations at all? Is that the case?
MCCARTHY: I think mandatory vaccinations is something that we've not reached as a country. I know that this is something that the Chief Minister is pushing. But I have always said that--
STEER: It's not only the Chief Minister, it's not only the Northern Territory. Victoria has announced that they will make it mandatory for teachers in that state also to be vaccinated. So you're, you're against mandatory vaccination, full stop, is that it?
MCCARTHY: I'm very cautious about making people do anything if they're certainly unable to do so medically.
STEER: Okay. Good on you, Senator. Good to hear from you. Appreciate your time. Thank you.
MCCARTHY: Thank you.