Nazi salutes in Melbourne causes stoush in federal parliament

March 21, 2023 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus has told federal parliament that the Nazi salutes seen in Melbourne’s CBD on Saturday were “abhorrent”.

Mark Dreyfus addresses federal parliament

Mark Dreyfus said: “What we saw on the steps of the Victorian parliament on the weekend was abhorrent. There is no place in Australian society for public displays of Nazi symbols or the Nazi salute. These are markers of some of the darkest days in the world’s history—of ghettos, deportations and mass murder—which touched my own family. Six million Jews perished in the Holocaust. We must never, ever forget. And thousands of Australian service men and women died fighting the Nazi regime.

Sadly, the sort of behaviour we saw on the weekend and its accompanying antisemitism is on the rise in Australia and around the world. The Victorian government was swift in its response. The Premier condemned the behaviour of a group of cowardly black-clad men who travelled to Melbourne’s CBD seeking notoriety. The Victorian Attorney-General pledged to reform Victorian law to ban displays of the Nazi salute. And, when it was revealed that Victorian Liberal MP Moira Deeming had attended the protest, the Victorian opposition leader announced that he would move to expel Ms Deeming from the Liberal Party.

But what have we had from those opposite—in particular their leader? Complete silence. We all know that bigotry and hatred breed in silence.”

He continued: “The Leader of the Opposition has failed to condemn the display of the Nazi salute on the steps of the Victorian parliament. He has been invisible since the weekend. He has done no media. Why? What is so difficult about this?

For the leader of a party of government to not even condemn the public use of the Nazi salute is astonishing, and it is shameful. The Leader of the Opposition is the most senior Liberal in Australia. This speaks volumes about the leadership qualities of the Leader of the Opposition, and Australians will take note.”

Leader of the Opposition Peter Dutton replied: “I want to join with the Attorney-General in the remarks that he’s made so far as they go to condemnation of any use of Nazi symbols, of the salute and of any glorification of that period of history. I would support any legislation in this parliament that he chooses to move—noting that he has not chosen to move any legislation—to make illegal in our country the display of any aspect of Nazi glorification.

Peter Dutton

I find the response today to be quite remarkable and over the top—to use this issue to political advantage. I’ve been in this place for 22 years. You can look at my history in every comment that I’ve made in relation to making sure that we never, ever repeat the mistakes of history, particularly during that period. The slaughter of Jews and the treatment by the Nazis of people during the Second World War, and the treatment today of people of the Jewish faith, is an abomination, and it is equally condemned. That it would be used for political purposes in this place is a very poor reflection on the Attorney-General, if I might say so.

As Minister for Home Affairs, as Minister for Defence and as a member of the National Security Committee, I supported every decision—in fact, I encouraged to the nth degree the Director-General of ASIO to use every resource at his disposal to make sure that those who would seek to propagate this hatred be charged according to the law. I won’t take a morals lecture from that man or, indeed, that one. He might get up and make a statement himself.”

The exchange followed by Labor MP Josh Burns asking the A-G: “My question is to the Attorney-General. Why is it important to condemn public displays of right-wing extremism and Nazi symbolism?”


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