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  • Writer's pictureChristian Penny

NSW Government introduces bill to criminalise display of Nazi symbols

The bill aims ban the public displays of Nazi symbols, as well as provisions for further safeguards against hate speech and vilification.

NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman has announced that a bill from the state government will amend the Crimes Act 1900 to create a new offence of knowingly displaying, by public act and without reasonable excuse, a Nazi symbol.

“Hateful and vilifying conduct is completely unacceptable in our community,” Mr Speakman said.

"The public display of Nazi symbols is generally considered abhorrent."

“This Bill recognises that the public display of Nazi symbols is generally considered abhorrent, except in very limited circumstances such as for education purposes and causes profound offence and distress.

Under the proposed amendments, the maximum penalty for the new offence will be 12 months’ imprisonment or a $11,000 fine or both for an individual and a fine of $55,000 for a corporation.

NSW Minister for Multiculturalism, Mark Coure, said the bill expressly states that the display of a swastika in connection with Buddhism, Hinduism or Jainism will not constitute the display of a Nazi symbol.

“The swastika has been an ancient symbol of peace, prosperity and auspiciousness for these spiritual groups for thousands of years. This Bill reflects stakeholder feedback that the offence should not apply to a swastika displayed in connection with Buddhism, Hinduism or Jainism,” Mr Coure said.

“Symbols that incite hate and are used to deliberately rally people to follow evil ideologies have no place in our multicultural society, or anywhere for that matter, and that is why this Bill will criminalise the displaying of Nazi symbols.”

Academic institutions and artists will be exempt from committing any offence. The Bill provides that it is not an offence to display a Nazi symbol where there is a reasonable excuse, including artistic or educational purposes, or purposes deemed in the public interest.

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Darren Bark said Nazi symbols “are a threat to the entire NSW community” and represent a “sinister underbelly” in our state.

“In recent years we have seen a surge in the use of these symbols by right-wing extremists and for other faith-based attacks, both in-person and online,” Mr Bark said, adding, “hate has no place in our tolerant multicultural society.

The move follows the Victorian Government's introduction of similar landmark legislation in May.

Earlier today, it was confirmed that the bill had passed the state's upper house.

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