A ban on the public display of Nazi gestures in Victoria is a step closer after the Andrews government on Tuesday introduced a bill to ban the Nazi salute and other gestures, with penalties ranging from fines of up to $23,000 to up to a year in jail.
Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes said Victorians have “zero tolerance for the glorification of hateful ideology”.
“We’re making sure people who use these symbols and gestures to harass, intimidate and incite hate are held accountable for their cowardly behaviour,” Symes said.
Minister for Multicultural Affairs Colin Brooks added, “We’ve worked closely with our multicultural communities on this reform and heard how deeply hurtful recent incidents have been to them.”
The legislation comes in the wake of a group of neo-Nazis gatecrashing an event held outside Parliament in March and performing Nazi salutes.
Member for Caulfield David Southwick said, “The abhorrent display of the Nazi salute on the steps of Parliament was a stark wake-up call and the time to act is now.
“Banning the Nazi salute is an important step in the right direction, but the government needs to give Victoria Police the training, resources and funding to enforce it.”
Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) president Daniel Aghion welcomed the announcement. “We have watched as a small group of local neo-Nazis have become increasingly brazen in their attempts to intimidate minority communities, including our Jewish community,” he said.
“Thanks to these new laws, police will have the authority to enforce a ban on the public performance of the Nazi salute and, in the event of non-compliance, impose heavy penalties.”
He noted the JCCV and a number of its affiliate organisations had worked closely with the Victorian government to develop the new laws. “This included organising a unique roundtable with Holocaust survivors and officials from the Department of Justice and Community Safety,” Aghion said.
“Those Holocaust survivors had a direct influence on the development of these laws. It was a strong statement that Nazism was defeated 80 years ago, and will never be resurrected in Victoria.”
Anti-Defamation Commission chair Dvir Abramovich said the journey “to de-Nazify Victoria for good has begun”.
“This menacing symbol of Nazism that glorifies Hitler’s monstrous legacy and the inexpressible crimes committed by the Third Reich has no place in our state.”
Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) executive director Colin Rubenstein said, “AIJAC wholeheartedly welcomes and supports this legislation.
“AIJAC also wishes to express our gratitude to Victorian Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes and the Andrews Labor government for fast-tracking the ban.”