THE community’s three main advocacy bodies have all made submissions to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security’s inquiry on extremism.
The Executive Council of Australian Jewry highlighted the need for action to be taken against extremist groups that advocate violence though they may not engage in it, such as the far-right National Socialist Network and Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir.
It recommended that a national law be enacted allowing the Minister for Home Affairs to designate an organisation as extremist if its members “associate together for the purpose of organising, planning, facilitating, supporting or engaging in activities which are calculated to provoke animosity between groups or individuals in Australia on the basis of race, religion, gender, sexual preference, gender identity or disability and the organisation or its members represent a risk to public peace, safety or order”.
ECAJ also recommended banning the public display of hate symbols – but noted that it itself was not a complete solution – while outlining the need for a national system to record hate crimes.
Both ECAJ and the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) highlighted the need to use education to combat extremism.
They also called for Hezbollah to be banned in its entirety as it is in the USA, UK, in many European nations, and by the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council.
AIJAC noted individuals and groups from across the extremist spectrum “have repeatedly highlighted Jews as a desirable target” and called out the threats from far-right extremists and Hizb ut-Tahrir, which it said should be proscribed.
“HT Australia members openly promote violence and war, spread misinformation, antisemitism and conspiracy theories, call for the destruction of the State of Israel and for murder of Jews and engage in Holocaust denial,” AIJAC said.
AIJAC recommended the government consider amending the Crimes Act to prohibit violence, incitement or the glorification of violence against a racial or religious group. This would allow such groups that currently fall short of the “legislative threshold for proscription” to be outlawed.
AIJAC also said counter-terror authorities should be monitoring far-right individuals “due to their ability to form new groups and the danger of lone wolf attacks”.
Addressing the role of the internet in promoting extremist ideology, AIJAC said it was incumbent on governments to monitor social media platforms and hold them accountable.
The Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA), meanwhile, recommended a legislation change to close a loophole allowing organisations to associate with terrorists.
“Australian counter-terrorism law casts a wide net over the terrorism-related activity of individuals,” the ZFA noted, but “does not prohibit an organisation from associating with a terrorist organisation”.