Push to ban Nazi symbol

NSW govt to investigate swastika ban

'To flaunt the emblem in today's Australia is a sickening promotion of what the Nazis stood for ... it is imperative to explore the possibility of outlawing this symbol'.

NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman. Photo: Noel Kessel
NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman. Photo: Noel Kessel

THE NSW government will seek advice on banning the public display of Nazi symbols following another incident of a swastika flag being displayed last weekend.

The flag, seen in the backyard of a home in inner-city Newtown on the eve of Yom Hashoah, prompted renewed calls to outlaw Nazi symbols after a spate of recent similar incidents.

NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel deputy chair Walt Secord on Saturday publicly urged the government to look into a ban. Vaucluse MP Gabrielle Upton, a member of the government, wrote to Attorney-General Mark Speakman on Monday asking he “identify the best ways the government can end this totally offensive and deplorable use of the Nazi flag”.

The offending flag at a Newtown home.

Speakman heeded those calls on Tuesday.

“I have requested advice from the Department of Communities and Justice about this matter,” he told The AJN.

“These symbols of hatred and antisemitism are unacceptable anywhere in our community. They are deeply offensive and capable of traumatising survivors of genocide and their loved ones.

“The small but disgraceful minority who display these images insult the memory of the millions of victims of the Holocaust and those who died defending the world from this hatred.”

Secord said he was delighted at Speakman’s response.

“I want a fast-track examination by the Attorney-General with recommendations on a way forward. In the spirit of bipartisanship, we could have laws on the books before the end of the year – if we work together on this important matter,” he said. 

“Flying a Nazi flag should be banned in NSW.”

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies president Lesli Berger said it was “a very significant step forward”. 

“To flaunt the emblem in today’s Australia is a sickening promotion of what the Nazis stood for, and occurring as it did on the eve of Yom Hashoah added to the hurt and offensiveness,” he said.

“There is an imperative to explore the possibility of outlawing the promotion of this symbol, and the Board of Deputies will support such a pursuit.”

NSW’s only Jewish MP, Ron Hoenig, said the swastika is an affront “not just to survivors of Nazism and the Second World War, but to our very humanity”.

Olga Horak, who was the only member of her family to survive the Holocaust, recalled, “I have seen SS people marching with the flag, thousands of them.

“That feeling never departs from you, it’s always there.”

She said it is “a horrific disappointment” to see swastikas displayed.

Holocaust survivors Eddie Jaku and Olga Horak lighting a candle at the Sydney Jewish Museum earlier this year‎. Photo: Giselle Haber

“The attitude of these people to disrespect us, disrespect the history which happened – the nerve after 75 years. It is an insult.”

In Victoria, momentum towards a ban has already begun, with the Victorian Liberal Party adopting it as policy, while Caulfield MP David Southwick has drafted legislation for the Andrews Labor government to consider as part of that state’s Inquiry into Anti-Vilification Protections.

“I will work with any party or government in any state to see this ban become a reality across Australia,” Southwick said.

Anti-Defamation Commission chair Dvir Abramovich (right) speaking at a press conference earlier this year, flanked by (from left) Shoah survivor Joe de Haan, Brighton MP James Newbury and Caulfield MP David Southwick. Photo: Peter Haskin

Anti-Defamation Commission chairman Dvir Abramovich, who has been campaigning on the issue for two years, said, “Now is the time to act and to address the key problem which is that the flying of the Nazi flag in NSW and in other states is still not against the law.

“This latest incident is another opportunity for our governments not to pass the ball, not to give a free pass to homegrown racists and bigots who are nourished by inaction, but to do the right thing.”

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