Swastika ban bill

Evidence heard

"History is teaching us that now is the time to act" - NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Darren Bark

A Nazi flag displayed at a home in Newtown in 2020.
A Nazi flag displayed at a home in Newtown in 2020.

A crucial crossbench vote has been secured to boost the chances of legislation banning the display of Nazi symbols passing the NSW Parliament.

Christian Democratic Party leader Reverend Fred Nile indicated he will support the Crimes Amendment (Display of Nazi Symbols) Bill 2021 last Friday, a day after the Standing Committee on Social Issues, on which he sits, conducted hearings into the bill.

Under the bill, the maximum penalty for an individual flouting the ban would be a $5500 fine or imprisonment for six months or both. There are specific exceptions for the Hindu swastika and for using the Nazi swastika, or Hakenkreuz, for educational purposes.

“When this bill comes before the NSW Legislative Council I will be proud to vote for it; I will urge my colleagues to do the same,” Rev Nile said.

He added that a public questionnaire asking for feedback on the bill had revealed there is “overwhelming support”.

Giving evidence to the committee last Thursday, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Darren Bark said “history is teaching us that now is the time to act”.

“A ban on Nazi symbols demonstrates that NSW is taking a strong stance against extremism, Neo-Nazi groups and against radicalisation,” he said.

Holocaust survivor Joseph Symon told the committee, “I have over the years worked with B’nai B’rith, the Sydney Jewish Museum and Courage to Care to represent Holocaust survivors, tell the stories of the Shoah and its cost in human lives and generations lost and help to create awareness.

“The swastika is a very vivid reminder of hatred, senseless loss of life of millions of people, Jewish and non-Jewish and the murder of my father.

“When I see a swastika in Australia it brings forward all the cruelty that people lived through and it also helps the extreme right-wing and neo-Nazis push their agenda.”

The committee will deliver its report on February 22.

Meanwhile, the Queensland Parliament’s Legal Affairs and Safety Committee has recommended that state introduce similar laws.

“The committee recommends that the Queensland government establish a criminal offence that prohibits the display of hate symbols, including those relating to Nazi and ISIS ideology, with considered exceptions to the prohibition,” a report said.

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