Shadow attorney General Julian Leeser has moved a private members bill for a federal ban on Nazi symbols and gestures.
It follows the heinous display on Saturday in Melbourne when a group of National Socialist Alliance members performed Nazi salutes on the steps of Victoria’s state parliament.
Under the bill, the penalty for displaying a Nazi symbol or giving a Nazi salute could be 12 months imprisonment. It contains exemptions for the display of Nazi symbols for educational or artistic purposes and specifically allows for the display of the Hindu Swastika.
“The events on the streets of Melbourne on the weekend were offensive to all Australians,” Leeser said.
“They are offensive to the memory of the one million Australians who served and the 39,600 Australians who made the supreme sacrifice in the Second World War. And they are offensive to me as a Liberal, as a Jew, and most importantly, as an Australian.
“This offence, this dishonouring of earlier generations of Australians, and this abuse of our political discourse, deserves a comprehensive response today.”
He said the actions of the neo-Nazis in Melbourne “sicken me to the core”.
“To them I say, we say, not in our country. Not in the county that took in more Holocaust survivors per capita than anywhere else on earth,” Leeser said.
“There must be no place in Australia for Nazi style flags, uniforms, salutes and boycotts because they are the means by which this sickness seeks to perpetuate and promote itself. Such actions should be, and must be, a crime.”
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton called Nazism “an ideology of unparalleled hate”.
“It’s an ideology which, through its contempt for the rights of man, can lead only to darkness and to the destruction of humanity. Thus, in what they represent, Nazi symbols are no ordinary symbols. They must be condemned wherever and whenever they are found and displayed.
“In seeking to amend the Criminal Code, we seek to make it an offence to display such symbols without a reasonable excuse.”
Responding to the private member’s bill, Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council executive director Colin Rubenstein said, “AIJAC supports measures to prevent Australia’s community being subjected to the hatred, disharmony and intimidation exemplified by Nazi symbols and salutes.
“We would therefore support the Federal Parliament acting to implement such measures, and we have supported states that have done and are doing so. We therefore commend Shadow Attorney-General Julian Leeser for his initiative and hope that it or something like it is enacted.”