‘Landmark’ laws to ban Nazi symbol in Vic

May 11, 2022 by  
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Victoria is poised to become the first Australian state or territory to ban the public display of the Nazi swastika in a “thunderous blow” to white supremacists.

The Victorian government introduced legislation into parliament on Wednesday banning intentional public displays of the symbol across the state.

The Summary Offences Amendment (Nazi Symbol Prohibition) Bill is expected to pass both houses with bipartisan support and only applies to the Nazi swastika, also known as the Hakenkreuz.

Religious versions of the symbol tied to Hindu, Buddhist and Jain faiths will remain legal.

There will also be exemptions for historical, educational and artistic purposes, while memorabilia bearing the Nazi swastika can still be traded as long as the symbol is covered when on public display.

Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes described the legislation, which does not cover online displays of the hate insignia, as a landmark in the fight against hatred.

“We know that this is a symbol of hate and it promotes antisemitism,” she told reporters.

Those caught breaking the law face up to one year in prison and a $22,000 fine, although people will only be charged if they do not comply with a police directive to remove the symbol.

Ms Symes said there is scope to add other Nazi and hate symbols, such as the SS Bolts.

“If people do start to pivot to other hate symbols to get around the law … that’s something that we’ll certainly look at,” she said.

Dvir Abramovich, JCCV president Daniel Aghion and Victoria’s Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes


Nazi symbols have been graffitied on political candidate signs in Victoria during the federal election campaign, while a group of neo-Nazis were recently kicked out of a Melbourne venue for celebrating Adolf Hitler’s birthday with a swastika-emblazoned cake.

Police were also powerless to stop a neo-Nazi music festival in 2019, as well as a couple flying a red and black Nazi flag over their Beulah property the following year.

In early 2021, a parliamentary inquiry recommended the ban along with extending the state’s anti-vilification laws beyond race and religion – the latter of which the government has committed to review.

JCCV President Daniel Aghion worked closely with the Victorian Department of Justice and Community Safety Core Consultation Group to advise on the drafting of the Summary Offences Amendment (Nazi Symbol Prohibition) Bill 2022. Together with Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh community representatives who participated in this process, we are pleased to see this day. We anticipate that the Bill will reflect our cross-cultural and collegiate work.

“The Nazis represented the worst type of evil; while this evil was defeated, the memory of their crimes lives on. Jewish Victorians, indeed all Victorians, should not have to face these symbols of evil in 2022,” Mr Aghion said, noting that the Jewish community had marked Yom Hashoah, Holocaust memorial day, one week ago today.

Her added: “There has been a recent increase in incidents of Jewish hate in Victoria, including people using the Nazi swastika to intimidate, harass and frighten Jewish Victorians.

This legislation is leading edge. It reflects the growing concerns of law enforcement and the wider community, including the Jewish community, about the increasing popularity of neo-Nazi movements.

The JCCV was pleased to represent the Jewish community in the Department of Justice and Community Safety’s Core Consultation Group and provide community input to help the Government draft this important legislation.

Hate and vilification have no place in our community. The JCCV continues to deliver educational programs to prevent antisemitism in our community and to work with police and government to hold to account those who spread hate.

He acknowledged the maximum penalties are unlikely to stop “malicious” actors but said the ban sends a strong message.

Once passed, the Nazi symbol ban will not come into effect until after a 12-month education campaign to raise awareness of the religious and cultural origins of the swastika.

Victoria’s Deputy Liberal Leader David Southwick, a member of the Jewish community, wants the government to enact the laws more quickly.

“The time to act is now,” he said.

Zionism Victoria welcomed the announcement with president  Yossi Goldfarb saying: “Given the significant Holocaust survivor population within the state, and given Victoria prides itself on tolerance, multiculturalism and respect, it is long since time this symbol of hate – a reminder for so many of the horror and pain they and their families endured – should have been placed beyond the realms of acceptable expression.

We thank the government for the action it has taken – the first state in Australia to do so – and express our gratitude to all those who have campaigned for this outcome.

AIJAC Executive Director Dr Colin Rubenstein commented:  “The public display of Nazi symbols should be a red line in Australian public discourse, and banning these symbols of hate represents an important step towards creating a safer, more cohesive and more harmonious society.

We commend the Victorian Attorney-General and the Victorian Government for their efforts to get the ban to this stage, and the Victorian Opposition, led by David Southwick, for advocating for and supporting this ban. We call on all state governments to consider following suit. There is every reason to hope that the display of racist and offensive Nazi symbols can soon become a thing of the past in Australia.”

Anti-Defamation Commission chairman Dvir Abramovich said Victoria is facing a Nazi swastika “epidemic” orchestrated by the neo-Nazi movement. “It’s a thunderous blow to the solar plexus of the neo-Nazi movement here in Victoria, who would love nothing more than to put people like myself in the gas chambers and dream of an Australian Hitler and a Fourth Reich.”

NSW is preparing its own laws to ban the public display of Nazi symbols after it was unanimously recommended by a parliamentary inquiry in February.


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