Mystery over Australia First's manifesto man

THE extreme right party Australia First, led by the convicted felon Jim Saleam, is fielding three candidates in Saturday's local government elections in the Blue Mountains. But the man spearheading the campaign, John Marlowe, is an elusive fellow.

He is a prolific blogger, running a relentless anti-Asian, anti-immigration and a return to the White Australia policy agenda online. And the party's Blue Mountains website carries more than 30 manifestos expressing extreme right opinions credited to Mr Marlowe.

There is an email address that the Herald has received no response from but there are no contact phone numbers. And it appears the photo of Mr Marlowe on the party's website has been pinched from the Swiss photojournalist Didier Ruef's website.

Based in Lugano, Mr Ruef confirmed yesterday he had taken the photo in Zurich in 1991 and the man depicted was a German Swiss local. ''I am quite astonished,'' Mr Ruef said. ''I have never heard from this political party or a John Marlowe. I don't like this at all, especially [as the image] is being used by people of the extreme right.''

Mr Marlowe's brief biography accompanying the fake photo states his occupation as a ''specialist consultant'' based in Wentworth Falls. He describes himself as ''ex-Military, ex-Public Servant, Had a gutful of government arrogance, waste and incompetence'' and lists his interests as ''Nationalism, anti-immigration, Nation State, Protectionism, Underclass''.

Mr Saleam denies Mr Marlowe is his alter ego.

''He may exist … he may not want to be seen,'' Mr Saleam told the Herald, after inquiring about Mr Marlowe's authenticity.

''I don't answer questions. I can't allow myself to answer your questions because I have serious grievances against a number of your [the Herald's] administrative and journalistic staff.''

Mr Saleam declined the opportunity to produce evidence of Mr Marlowe's existence when asked.

In addition to the three candidates in the Blue Mountains, Australia First is also fielding three candidates in Sutherland and six in the Hawkesbury.

Mr Saleam said if the Herald wanted further information on the campaign, it was free to quote from the Australia First website, which is covered with postings by the elusive Mr Marlowe.

Mr Saleam spent three and a half years in the 1990s in prison, for supplying a gun to two skinheads who shot up the home of an African National Congress representative while his young family was inside. He was jailed for a further two years for insurance fraud. In the 1970s, he was involved with Australia's Nazi Party - the Nationalist Socialist Party of Australia - and has been photographed on several occasions wearing swastika armbands. He also had links to the Patriotic Youth League at the time of the 2005 Cronulla riots.

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