Nazi swastika

Bill set to be passed this week in NSW

Public displays of Nazi symbols is set to be banned this week in NSW, as the bill passes the Lower House.

A swastika flag at a home in Newtown, in Sydney's inner-west, in April 2020.
A swastika flag at a home in Newtown, in Sydney's inner-west, in April 2020.

NEW South Wales is on the cusp of criminalising public displays of Nazi symbols after the government’s bill passed the Lower House with unanimous support on Tuesday.

The Upper House is expected to debate the bill today (Thursday), and it’s understood both the government and opposition have indicated their support for it.

Under the bill it will be an offence to publicly display a Nazi symbol without a reasonable excuse, such as artistic, academic or educational purposes. The maximum penalty will be 12 months’ imprisonment or an $11,000 fine, or both for an individual, or a $55,000 fine for a corporation.

Jewish Board of Deputies (JBD) CEO Darren Bark was present in the chamber and the board was personally thanked by the government for its work on the bill.

The JBD presented joint evidence with the Hindu Council of Australia to a February parliamentary inquiry and has been at the forefront of calls to ban the Nazi swastika.

“Just last month we saw neo-Nazi stickers plastered on a postbox in Redfern. We receive antisemitic incident reports on a weekly basis. This is unacceptable and the perpetrators must be held to account,” Bark said.

“Nazi symbols are a threat to the entire NSW community and have no place in our tolerant, multicultural society. We look forward to the Upper House passing the legislation.”

NSW Shadow Police Minister and Parliamentary Friends of Israel deputy chair Walt Secord said he would “lead” for Labor when the bill is debated.

“My view has always been clear – there is no reason to fly a Nazi flag in NSW; it is a symbol of pure genocidal hate,” Secord said.

Attorney-General Mark Speakman said the proposed amendment will provide important, additional safeguards against hate speech and vilification in NSW.

“Hateful and vilifying conduct is completely unacceptable in our community,” Speakman said.

NSW Minister for Multiculturalism Mark Coure added, “This bill also serves another important purpose – to protect those that use a swastika for religious and spiritual reasons.

“This provision safeguards these communities and ensures the enforcement of this law is done so appropriately.”

Member for Vaucluse Gabrielle Upton introduced the bill in Parliament on behalf of the government and for the benefit of the Jewish community.

“This bill is a clear statement from the NSW government on behalf of the community that the display of Nazi symbols, and the hatred and bigotry they invoke and inspire, has absolutely no place in our community,” she said.

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