A NSW parliamentary inquiry has unanimously recommended a ban on the public display of Nazi symbols in a move welcomed by Jewish and Hindu groups.
Australian Associated Press
February 22, 2022
“NSW is today one step closer to banning the Nazi swastika,” said Darren Bark, Chief Executive Officer of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies
“The Nazi swastika is an emblem of pure evil. It represents the dehumanisation of millions of people and one of the most inhumane, hate-based and murderous regimes and ideologies to ever exist.”
Australia has one of the highest number of Holocaust survivors per capita worldwide.
The bipartisan committee “expressed strong support for the bill’s protective objectives, including for individuals and groups in our community who are hurt, offended or intimidated by the public display of Nazi symbols”.
“None of the participants in the inquiry expressed opposition to the objectives of the bill,” said the Standing Committee on Social Issues report issued on Tuesday.
Under the proposed legislation, the maximum penalty for an individual flouting the ban would be a $5500 fine or imprisonment for six months or both. The bill is set to be debated in parliament.
However, the committee recommended some exceptions.
The swastika symbol could only be used in historical or educational settings, thereby paving the way for its display by Hindus.
“Our sacred symbol of the Swastika representing peace and prosperity is often confused with the evil Hakenkreuz,” said Surinder Jain, Hindu Council of Australia National Vice-President, in the joint statement with Bark.
“We hope that this legislation will ban the hate symbol while freeing our sacred symbol from indoor imprisonment.
Last year Victoria became the first state or territory to initiate legislation outlawing Nazi symbols.
Labor’s police spokesman Walt Secord, who introduced the bill, said 31 incidents of displays of Nazi flags were reported to the police in 2020, including one in a home close to a synagogue in the inner-western Sydney suburb of Newtown.
A NSW man arrested by counter-terrorism police in September was found to be in possession of a Nazi flag and a map of the state on his bedroom wall with plans to make a 3D-printed gun.