NSW Shadow Minister for Police and Counter-Terrorism Walt Secord has introduced his bill into State Parliament to ban the display of Nazi and neo-Nazi symbols and flags – the first such bill in Australia.
October 18, 2021
Secord, who is also deputy chair of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel and the NSW Patron of the Labor Israel Action Committee presented the bill and gave a 40-minute Second reading speech for Crimes Amendment (Display of Nazi Symbols) Bill 2001.
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.
Mr Secord thanked NSW Jewish Board of Deputies president Lesli Berger for his long-standing support for banning Nazi symbols.
Mr Secord said the legislation had been carefully crafted to avoid confusion with Hindu, Buddhist and Jain religious practices and was designed to ban the hooked cross – the Hakenkreuz.
There are also exemptions for academic, research and artistic purposes.
There is a definition of public display and symbol to capture neo-Nazi activity such as the Totenkopf and sonnenrad.
On September 2, the Victorian Government announced its own intention to ban the public display of Nazi symbols. However, Victoria has indicated that it will not introduce a bill until the first half of 2022, so the NSW bill has the promise of being an Australian jurisdictional first.
Many European countries have had similar laws for decades, including Germany, Austria and France where it is unlawful to publicly fly Nazi flags. However, there are no Australian laws.
The Secord bill carries tough penalties. The maximum penalty for an individual is 50 penalty points, which currently stands at $5,500 or imprisonment for six months or both. The maximum penalty for a corporation is 500 penalty points, which currently stands at $55,000.
The bill is now under consideration by the Perrottet Government and it has been adjourned until late October or early November.
Mr Secord told State Parliament: “it is still surprising and deeply distressing that we now have a real need to review the legality of flying a Nazi flag in NSW and in Australia. It must be recognised that this is in response to the rise of Neo‑Nazi activity in Australia and its role in inciting hate behaviour and hate crimes.”
“I expect that if I had stood in this Chamber 50, 60 or 70 years ago and asked what the NSW Parliament was doing to prevent the flying of Nazi flags, the likely answer would have been: “Who in Australia would ever display one or carry one in a public rally?”
“The Nazi symbol or hooked cross—the Hakenkreuz—which was the official emblem of the Nazi Party and the Third Reich from 1933 to 1945, is not only deeply offensive to veterans who fought against fascism, it is also an affront to the survivors of the Holocaust and to all their descendants.
It is an affront to the memory of the six million murdered in the Shoah, including 1.5 million children. Put simply, the Nazi hooked cross is an emblem of genocide and racism. The decision to fly or carry a Nazi flag in a public act or at a rally in NSW is a simple expression of hate. If members find it disturbing that we have to visit the question of banning that symbol of hate, I agree, it is disturbing.”
Mr Secord told State Parliament that there had been a rise internationally and nationally in neo-Nazi activity.
The NSW Police Force gave evidence at a parliamentary budget estimates hearing that right‑wing extremists now occupy about 20 per cent of the counter-terrorism efforts in NSW, adding to operations targeting the radical Islamic threats that remain of greatest concern to investigators.
Of the 1,000 extremists across four tiers of threat attracting some level of police monitoring, about 80—on the two highest levels—are being closely tracked as posing a violent threat to people in NSW.
On 1 October 2021, NSW Police Force confirmed that it estimates there are 15 members of the National Socialist Network—Neo-Nazis—operating and active in NSW.
In addition, government documents have revealed that the Nazi flag had been displayed on 31 separate occasions in a two-year period between June 2018 and April 2020.
In State Parliament, Mr Secord also referred to support and observations on the bill from the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, the Australian Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants, the NSW Association of Jewish Service & Ex-Servicemen & Women, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council and the Melbourne-based Anti-Defamation Commission.
Darren Bark, CEO of The New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies told J-Wire: “After a long standing call by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies to tackle this issue, it is encouraging to see legislation to ban the Nazi swastika being introduced into NSW Parliament.
We have worked together with the Hindu Council of NSW to provide feedback and will engage with this bill through the parliamentary process.
Should the legislation be passed it will be an important tool in fighting antisemitism.”