Victoria will become the first state or territory in Australia to make the public display of Nazi symbols illegal – in a landmark reform announced today.
The Andrews government said it will legislate a ban on the public display of Nazi symbols, expected in the first half of 2022, in recognition of the rise in neo-Nazi activity and its role in inciting hate behaviour.
Extensive consultation will be undertaken on how the Nazi symbol ban is crafted, to ensure appropriate exceptions are in place, such as for educational or historical purposes, or for other uses of the symbol.
The government will also extend the state’s anti-vilification protections beyond race and religion to cover areas such as sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, and HIV/AIDS status.
“All forms of hate are unacceptable and have no place in Victoria – expanding our anti-vilification laws to protect more Victorians sends a clear message that this vile behaviour will not be tolerated,” Victorian Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes said.
“We will make sure we consult widely with the community and impacted groups to get the settings right before making legislative changes.”
Minister for Multicultural Affairs Ros Spence added, “Nazi symbols glorify one of the most hateful ideologies in human history. We must confront hate, prevent it, and give it no space to grow.”
Welcoming the announcement, shadow minister for police and crime prevention David Southwick said, “For too long, frontline police and local communities have been powerless to stop the Nazi swastika being used as a tool to spread hate.
“There is no place for the Nazi swastika in Victoria. There is no other hate symbol quite like it. This ban will go a long way to signal that hate and violence will not be tolerated in Victoria.”
Anti-Defamation Commission chairman Dvir Abramovich, who has been campaigning to outlaw the public displays of the Nazi swastika for the last three years, said, “I never lost faith that this momentous occasion would come to pass. This is a day for the history books.
“Bravo to the government for rising to the challenge and declaring in a clear and unmistakable voice that the ultimate emblems of inhumanity and racism … will never find a refuge in our state.”
He added, “Law enforcement will now have the tools they have been asking for and I look forward to attending Parliament in person when this law is passed and to celebrate this milestone.”
Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-CEO Peter Wertheim said, “We hope that the federal government will follow suit and enact legislation to ban the display of hate symbols across Australia, as recommended by the ECAJ to the parliamentary Inquiry into matters relating to extremist movements and radicalism in Australia.”
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Darren Bark commented, “We call on the New South Wales government to consider this move by the Victorian government as a positive step for harmonious society and ban the public display of the Nazi swastika in NSW.”
Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) president Daniel Aghion stated, “The JCCV agrees with the Victorian government that vilification has no place in our community.
“As the Premier recently said, antisemitism is pure evil. We welcome the ban on Nazi symbols and look forward to consulting with the government on the final form of the legislation.”
The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) said it is “pleased that the Victorian government’s response seeks to not only improve protections, through mechanisms like the swastika ban, but to also improve opportunities for recourse for those who are abused and attacked”.
“We urge the Victorian government to consider adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism as a guide to understanding, identifying and formulating appropriate responses to antisemitism,” AIJAC added.