Secord reiterates call to NSW to ban swastikas and Nazi flags

October 19, 2020 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Documents obtained under freedom of information (FOI) laws reveal that between June 2018 and April 2020, there were at least 31 separate incidents reported to NSW Police where swastikas and Nazi flags were displayed in public places aimed at intimidating and vilifying Jews.

Nazi flag in Sydney suburb of Newton

The heavily redacted documents obtained by NSW Labor frontbencher Walt Secord also reveal that the NSW Attorney-General’s Department believes that “there is some evidence that suggests an increase in antisemitic conduct”.

The Attorney-General reported a total of 112 incidents of antisemitism in NSW since the introduction of Section 93Z of the Crimes Act 1900 on August 13, 2018.  However, there has not been a single charge laid in relation to these events.

(Section 93Z relates to criminal vilification – where it is an offence to publicly threaten or incite violence towards a person or group on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex or HIV/AIDS status. It attracts a maximum penalty of three years in prison.)

The FOI material found that:

Mr Secord said he sought the documents after he was concerned about the delay in the Berejiklian Government’s deliberations on banning the public display of swastikas and the Nazi flag.

“It is very clear that the Berejiklian Government is doing little to respond to this racist cancer in our society; 31 reported separate incidents of people flying the Nazi flag or displaying swastikas in less than two years is shocking,” Mr Secord said.

Mr Secord today renewed his call on the Berejiklian Government to take action on the public display of the Nazi flag in NSW.

In mid- April, Mr Secord called on the NSW Government to undertake a formal investigation into ways to ban the public display of Nazi flags. Shortly afterwards, the NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman confirmed that the NSW Government would conduct an investigation.

Walt Secord

Mr Secord obtained the documents after a long-running dispute with the Department of Communities and Justice’s Information and Privacy division. Mr Secord and his staff member have been negotiating to obtain the documents since August.

The 25 pages were secured under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 from the Department of Communities and Justice, the Attorney-General and the NSW Police Force’s Engagement and Hate Crime Unit by Mr Secord. Five of the pages were redacted and kept out of the public arena.

“These documents reveal that there have been many more incidents in NSW then we are led to believe where individuals have taken to display the Nazi flag,” Mr Secord said.

“In a two-year period, there were at least 31 separate incidents reported to police. This comprised five in the June 2018 to December 2018 period; 23 in 2019; and three occasions in the first four months of 2020.

“It is extraordinary and damning that there has not been a single person charged under the laws introduced in 2018.

“It is time the Berejiklian Government kept its word and acted on those who fly the Nazi flag. The Nazi flag is deeply offensive to veterans who fought against fascism and was affront to survivors of the Holocaust and their descendants.

“The Nazi flag is an emblem of genocide and racism. The decision to fly a Nazi flag is a simple expression of hatred.”

In the first quarter of 2020, there were four known incidents in NSW and Victoria, where the Nazi flag was displayed publicly. This included incidents in Newtown and in Wagga Wagga.

Mr Secord said while there were protections in some European countries – including Germany, Austria and France where it is unlawful to publicly fly Nazi flags, it is not illegal to fly a Nazi flag in NSW and Australia.

Mr Secord said he believed that there should be rare exemptions such as historical film production or for theatrical purposes such as a performance of Anne Frank – but he could not see any other reason to display a Nazi flag in NSW outside your home or in a community space.

He also said he noted that the swastika is a Hindu symbol that was misappropriated by the Nazis.

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