NSW Government delays Secord bill to ban Nazi symbols and flags until next year

November 9, 2021 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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In the NSW State Parliament today,  NSW Shadow Minister for Police and Counter-Terrorism Walt Secord slammed the Perrottet Government for delaying the bill to ban Nazi flags and symbols – saying there was a “small pocket” opposed to the legislation.

“It has been pushed into next year,” Mr Secord said outside parliament.

Mr Secord, who is also the deputy chair of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel and the NSW Patron of the Labor Israel Action Committee told fellow parliamentarians that he found the Perrottet Government decision to delay the bill to be “perplexing and frustrating”.

The Perrottet Government resolved to refer the Crimes Amendment (Display of Nazi Symbols) Bill 2021 to the Standing Committee on Social Issues chaired by the Hon Peter Poulos for further consideration.

The Social Issues Committee would now take evidence from community groups including Jewish ones in late January and report back to the NSW Parliament in early February.

Walt Secord said that there is a “small pocket” in the government that adhered to controversial comments made seven years ago in March 2014 by then-Federal Attorney-General George Brandis, QC, that “people have the right to be bigots”.

Mr Secord said the Brandis comments were “disgraceful” and he hoped that those who support the banning of Nazi symbols would eventually prevail within the Perrottet Government.

Walt Secord had been working on the bill for several years and had taken the views of the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain communities into consideration when drafting the bill – as well as the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies.

He said: “I have not encountered anyone who believes that there is a reason to fly the Nazi flag in NSW—so what possible reason could there be to delay the bill?

I expect that if I had stood in this Chamber 50, 60 or 70 years ago and asked what the NSW Parliament was doing to prevent the flying of Nazi flags, the likely answer would have been: “Who in Australia would ever display one or carry one in a public rally?

I also wish to put on the record my profound appreciation to NSW Jewish Board of Deputies president Lesli Berger and its CEO Darren Bark for their long-standing support for banning Nazi symbols.

The legislation had been carefully crafted to avoid confusion with Hindu, Buddhist and Jain religious practices, whose symbols were co-opted and twisted by the Nazis.

The bill was specifically designed to ban the hooked cross – the Hakenkreuz. There are also exemptions for academic, research and artistic purposes.

Many European countries have had similar laws for decades, including Germany, Austria and France where it is unlawful to publicly fly Nazi flags. However, there are no Australian laws.

Mr Secord added that the bill had support from:

  • the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies,
  • the Australian Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants,
  • the NSW Association of Jewish Service & Ex-Servicemen & Women
  • the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council; and
  • the Melbourne-based Anti-Defamation Commission.

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