Nazi salutes pulled at United Patriots Front right-wing Melbourne rally

Nazi salutes have been pulled at a right-wing rally of so-called 'patriots' in Melbourne.

Hundreds of police, including riot and dog squads, descended on a beach on Sunday to manage the rally, according to Australian media. Protesters have been clashing for hours, some on Twitter have said.

Scuffles broke out between the attendees and police, and video shows police creating a human barrier between the two demonstrating groups.

Convicted criminals Blair Cottrell and Noel Erikson, who founded the United Patriots Front group, rallied their supporters to gather at St Kilda Beach at 1pm (local time) to "take back the beach" from "African crime gangs".

The pair addressed the gathering on Sunday afternoon, with the crowd yelling, "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Oi, oi, oi!" but counter protesters drowned them out, reports.

The organisers of the rally are known to be Nazi supporters. Cottrell, a tradesman and bodybuilder, once called for an image of Adolf Hitler to be hung in every Australian classroom.

Cottrell and Erikson were convicted in 2017 and fined for inciting contempt and ridicule of Muslims by making a video in which they beheaded a dummy with a toy sword in a protest against the building of the Bendigo mosque.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison thanked police in Victoria for "their efforts dealing with the ugly protests".

On Twitter he said Australia is "the most successful migrant country in the world," adding that this has been achieved "by showing respect for each other, our laws and values and maintaining sensible immigration policies".

"Let's keep it that way, it makes Australia stronger."

It's understood Australian Senator Fraser Anning flew in from Queensland to attend the rally. He praised the event on Facebook and posted a video of himself with Cottrell.

In August last year, Mr Anning called for a "final solution" to non-English speaking immigration and people coming to Australia "from the third world".

A member of Katter's Australia Party (KAP), he used his maiden speech in the Australian Senate to call for an end to all immigration by Muslims and non-English speaking people.

Victorian Liberal MP Tim Wilson said on Twitter, "These racists don't understand Australia, what it stands for and are irrelevant to its future and do nothing to take Australia forward together."

The response to the rally has been huge with people taking to Twitter to express their anger. Many were critical of the Prime Minister's statement saying it's not enough.

"I find this statement highly concerning," one Twitter user said. "It seems to appear far right by stating [it's] a 'racial protest' and reinforces government line on a 'tough on migration' approach."

"These were racists using Nazi salutes just across from a Jewish area of Melbourne."

Another said, "I don't care much for left and right politics but those who raised their hands in Nazi salutes and held SS helmets at [the rally are] a massive kick in the guts to everything our ancestors fought for."