Australia Prime Minister Anthony Albanese condemns neo-Nazis after arrest of 'heavily disguised' group

Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese condemned on Saturday domestic neo-Nazi activity after a black-clad group was arrested on the country's national day, which saw rallies in support of its Indigenous people.

Police said late on Friday, a holiday known as Australia Day, that they arrested six people and issued 55 others with infringement notices for offensive behaviour at a train station in Sydney, the capital of New South Wales state.

More than a dozen people wearing balaclavas at a train station in north Sydney on Friday afternoon.
More than a dozen people wearing balaclavas at a train station in north Sydney on Friday afternoon. Photo credit: Transport for NSW

The group was "heavily disguised", police said.

"I was horrified," Albanese told reporters in the town of Orange, about 203 kilometres (126 miles) from Sydney, when asked about the group on Saturday.

"I don't want to see people in balaclavas dressed in black from head to toe, who are engaged in neo-Nazi activity in this country," Albanese said.

Such activity "is rightly being condemned by all decent people," he said, adding that Australia had seen a rise in neo-Nazism.

Australia Day commemorates the day Britain established New South Wales as a penal colony, but many Indigenous Australians reject it as marking the start of injustices suffered since European colonisation.

Friday saw thousands rally at "Invasion Day" events in state capitals backing the Indigenous community, many of whom want to drop celebrations or move the date.

Earlier this month, new laws banning the Nazi salute and display or sale of symbols associated with terror groups came into effect in Australia in response to more antisemitic incidents following the Israel-Gaza war.

At the time, the centre-left Labor government said the laws sent a clear message there was no place in Australia for those who glorify the Holocaust or terrorist acts.