NSW politician Walt Secord has described the joint submission from the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and the Hindu Council of Australia as “landmark” and “ground-breaking” – saying it was a model on how two community groups could work together in partnership to fight racism and discrimination.

J-Wire Newsdesk
January 27, 2022

“It was an extraordinary and inspired joint submission. It had two aims. It wanted to see the ban of the display of Nazi symbols while also ensuring the legality of displays of religious symbols for the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain faiths,” Mr Secord said.

“I also acknowledge that both the Hindu and Jewish communities made a concerted effort to work together to create a path forward to support this important legislation.”

Mr Secord applauded NSW Jewish Board of Deputies president Lesli Berger; Board CEO Darren Bark; Hindu Council of Australia NSW president Mr Bhagwat Chauhan, and Hindu Council of Australia national vice-president Mr Surinder Jain for the joint submission.

A public hearing will now take place on 3 February 2022 – with a final report on 22 February 2022. The committee is being chaired by former NSW Arts Minister Don Harwin.

Among those giving evidence on February 3 will be Ms Olga Horak, one of Australia’s most prominent Holocaust survivors. She is 96 years old and survived Auschwitz.

If adopted, the legislation would be the first such bill in Australia. Many European countries have had similar laws for decades, including Germany, Austria and France where it is unlawful to publicly fly Nazi flags.

The Crimes Amendment (Display of Nazi Symbols) Bill 2021 – which has been put forward by Mr Secord, who is also deputy chair of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel and the NSW Patron of the Labor Israel Action Committee – seeks to prohibit the public display of a symbol of, or associated with, the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, the Third Reich or Neo-Nazism (a Nazi symbol), except in certain circumstances.

There are special protections for the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain faiths.

The bill has been the subject of several years of consultation, discussion and advice from a wide-range of Jewish and Indian community groups including the Hindu Council of Australia and the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies.

It was specifically designed to ban the hooked cross – the Hakenkreuz. There are also exemptions for academic, research and artistic purposes.

Mr Secord said there were almost 60 submissions to the Standing Committee on Social Issues.

Other submissions were lodged by the Australian Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and their descendants; the Australian Jewish Association; the Australia-Israel Jewish Affairs Council, Anti-Discrimination NSW; the NSW Association of Jewish Service and Ex-service men and Women. The proceedings will also be broadcast via zoom on the day.

Link to written submissions: https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/committees/inquiries/Pages/inquiry-details.aspx?pk=2840#tab-submissions