Julian Leeser sets the wheels of criminalisation of Nazi symbolism into motion

May 22, 2023 by AAP J-Wire
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Federal MP Julian Leeser has revived efforts to impose an Australia-wide ban on Nazi symbols.

Julian Leeser

Anyone convicted of displaying the symbols, including the Nazi salute and swastika, could be fined up to $27,500 or face 12 months in prison if parliament approves Julian Leeser’s private bill.

Mr Leeser said the ban on Nazi symbols was critical in order to stop any legitimacy being attached to them.

“We must deny these extremists access to such symbols, symbols they used to create fear, spread fear and capture new recruits,” he told parliament on Monday.

“Don’t think this is not happening here right now, our country is dealing with this today.”

The introduction of the legislation to the lower house follows a group of neo-Nazis performing the sieg heil salute outside the Victorian parliament earlier in May, following clashes with police and counter-protesters.

A parliamentary committee has recommended the government act with urgency to implement a ban on Nazi symbols.

However, it rejected a similar private bill in the Senate arguing it was not watertight enough.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton had called on the government to fast-track laws banning Nazi symbols.

Mr Leeser’s bill provides exceptions for swastikas displayed as part of Buddhism, Hinduism, or Jainism faiths where there are religious connections to the symbol.

Exceptions would also be made for showing Nazi symbols as part of journalism, education, scientific or artistic purposes.

The Liberal MP said the bill would make the country safer.

“This bill is an affirmation of Australian values, values that respect the quality of Australians from all races, beliefs and backgrounds,” Mr Leeser said.

“This bill will ensure there is no legal ambiguity about Nazi displays, demonstrations and actions.”

The executive director of The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council Dr Colin Rubenstein offered and pledged to work with both the Federal Government and the Opposition to bring the laws to fruition as soon as possible.

He was responding to the release of the Senate committee report last week into banning Nazi symbols.

“It was reassuring to see that both the Government and Opposition supported the intent of the bill,” Dr. Rubenstein said.

“This is about putting aside differences, working together and creating the toughest and most effective laws possible.

“These laws are too important to delay. Neo-Nazi and other far-right activity has become more brazen in recent years. It is time for this legislation to be in place at the national level.”

“These laws will send a clear and unequivocal message that extremists, their salutes and symbols have no place in our harmonious multicultural society. AIJAC stands ready to advise, consult and assist with national laws.

“It was an honour and privilege to make a submission to and appear before the Senate Committee, as it was to assist with the NSW and Victorian State bills,” Dr Rubenstein concluded.

Peter Wertheim, co-CEO of The Executive Council of Australian Jewry, told J-Wire: “It is gratifying to note that there is cross-partisan support for the Jewish community’s call to introduce Federal legislation to ban the public display of Nazi symbols and performance of Nazi gestures.  In this respect, the Senate Committee’s report is to be welcomed.  Julian Leeser’s speech in parliament today was a powerful statement of why such legislation is needed and appropriate.

Yet the majority report includes some highly questionable conclusions.  The most problematic of them is the suggestion that the legislation needs to specify each and every symbol that is to be proscribed, supposedly in order to avoid punishing people for displaying symbols for innocent purposes that have nothing to do with Nazi ideology.  This is misconceived.

The test should be whether the display of the symbol or performance of the gesture in all the circumstances promotes Nazi or neo-Nazi ideology. Courts and juries are perfectly capable of making that assessment based on the evidence.  If only specific symbols and gestures are proscribed, then the legislation will be easily circumvented, as new symbols and gestures are continually being developed.  Nazi groups would quickly make a mockery of a law that is framed in that way.   It would be entirely the wrong approach.”

Laws banning Nazi symbols have been introduced in NSW and Victoria.

But Julian Leeser’s private bill will be effective nationally if successful.




2 Responses to “Julian Leeser sets the wheels of criminalisation of Nazi symbolism into motion”
  1. Larry sillman says:

    There was a range of thoughtful opinion expressed in the Senate inquiry about problems with restricting it to just known Nazi symbols, and for some chasing after other symbols. This news items ignores that fact. People can go to https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Legal_and_Constitutional_Affairs/SymbolProhibition2023

  2. Michael Burd says:

    Hasn’t Labor already knocked back this motion /bill because it would offend many of their core constituents
    Perhaps some of our Labor supporting high profile Jewish communal leaders some from organisations mentioned in this article could have a word wit their Labor buddies ?

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