Parliament Speeches

what's happening / speeches / Crimes Amendment (Prohibition on Display of Nazi Symbols) Bill 2022

Crimes Amendment (Prohibition on Display of Nazi Symbols) Bill 2022

Hansard ID: HANSARD-1323879322-126478

Hansard session: Fifty-Seventh Parliament, First Session (57-1)

Crimes Amendment (Prohibition on Display of Nazi Symbols) Bill 2022

Second Reading Debate

Debate resumed from an earlier hour.

Mr MARK COURE (OatleyMinister for Multiculturalism, and Minister for Seniors) (15:31:36):

— I continue my contribution in support of the Crimes Amendment (Prohibition on Display of Nazi Symbols) Bill 2022. As I mentioned previously, the bill sends a very clear message that the display of Nazi symbols and the hatred and bigotry that they represent will not be tolerated. The bill strikes the right balance in delineating between what is a Nazi symbol, what is a swastika and later has been associated with Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism. While introducing this new law we need to continue raising awareness of why the Government is introducing the law in the first place. We need to raise awareness of the pain inflicted on Jewish communities by symbols and antisemitic hate and to remember the Holocaust. As I said previously, this year marks the seventy-seventh year of the end of the Holocaust. We need all communities to remain vigilant to any resurgence of Nazism here and internationally. The bill is a positive step in that direction. Undoubtedly, there is still more to do in combating hate in New South Wales at the community level. The New South Wales Government will continue to stand united with communities against hate. I commend the bill to the House.

Mr DAVID MEHAN (The Entrance) (15:33:04):

I make a contribution to debate on the Crimes Amendment (Prohibition on Display of Nazi Symbols) Bill 2022. I note that the bill amends the Crimes Act 1900 to prohibit the public display of Nazi symbols. Under proposed section 93ZA1 (1) a person who by public act displays a Nazi symbol is guilty of an office that may carry a maximum penalty of 100 penalty units, which at the moment is $11,000, or imprisonment for 12 months, or both for an individual; or 500 penalty units, approximately $55,000 dollars at present, for a corporation. The Labor Opposition does not oppose the legislation. We introduced a similar bill in 2021, which was not supported by the Government at that stage. Since then, the Victorian Government has introduced legislation banning the display of Nazi symbols as a consequence of an inquiry which occurred in that State. This is an important piece of legislation, especially to the Jewish community, who were the target of hatred and persecution by the Nazi regime. Other groups were also persecuted under the Nazi regime, including diverse cultural groups, the LGBTIQ community and people with disabilities, as well as the ideological opponents of the Nazi regime. Prescribing these symbols is a statement by this Parliament of its view that those symbols represent hatred, which cannot be supported in any way.

Symbolism was important to the Nazi regime. Members will recall the Nazi regime had state power in Germany from 1933 until 1945. The regime that caused World War II took symbols seriously. One of the first things the Nazi regime did—by act and otherwise—was to ensure that symbols of Nazism such as the swastika and other symbols were incorporated into all elements of German society, particularly the German Army. not included previously, the swastika was incorporated into all elements of the regalia of the German Army. It was reflected in the ideological imposition of rules of engagement by the German Army that were an abrogation of the traditional rules of war followed by European armies which saw the endorsement of the execution of political opponents of the Nazi regime. The Commissar Order authorised the execution of prisoners of war who were members of the Communist Party or Commissars in the Red Army. The German Army actively cooperated in the establishment of the elaborate death camps that were aimed squarely at the elimination of the Jewish people as a group. Over five million Jewish people were killed as a result of the acts of the Nazi regime and 25 million people were from countries that used to be part of the Soviet Union.

A statement by this Parliament that those symbols are to be prescribed as not to be used or displayed in public is an important statement of our view as to the evils of fascism and the evils of that regime. Those who display Nazi symbols as an illustration of their personal view of the world do so knowing full well that they are supporting a regime whose political foundation was based on hatred and fascism, and acts which saw the elimination of opponents to that regime. I note that the Act recognises that the swastika is an ancient symbol that has been adopted by many religious groups and the use of the swastika by those religious groups will not constitute a breach of the Act. I also note that there is no offence where the display of the Nazi symbol is accompanied by a reasonable excuse as defined in the Act.

I note many members in our community—I am familiar with many of them in the hobby that I pursue of wargaming—build scale models of all sorts, but very often they are scale models of military equipment. Military equipment from the World War II period is very popular amongst people who pursue that hobby. It is not uncommon for symbols of the Nazi regime to be included on those scale models. People who undertake the hobby of wargaming will have armies of toy soldiers and there may be symbols of Nazism included in those scale models. I hope that those groups do not fall foul of this legislation. I ask the Attorney General to address that in his reply speech. If the Attorney General does not address that in his response, I will assume that those groups who act innocently, in good faith and in no way support fascism or Nazism will not fall foul of the law. This is an important statement of belief by this Parliament and it is an important change to our criminal law. I commend the legislation to the House.

Mr ADAM CROUCH (Terrigal) (15:40:01):

I also speak in support of the Crimes Amendment (Prohibition on Display of Nazi Symbols) Bill 2022. I commend the Attorney General for this excellent piece of legislation. I also acknowledge Government members from the other place who took part in the inquiry in February 2022 to ensure that this legislation was fit and proper for the purpose for which it is going to be used. I acknowledge the contributions made by the Hon. Scott Farlow, the Hon. Shayne Mallard, the Hon. Don Harwin and the Hon. Peter Poulos, all of whom represented the Government during that inquiry in February 2022 with regard to this piece of well-informed legislation. The Crimes Amendment (Prohibition on Display of Nazi Symbols) Bill 2022 will create a new offence for prohibiting the public display of Nazi symbols. It is an important reform that will ensure that individuals and corporations who knowingly display a Nazi symbol without a reasonable excuse are brought before the courts and dealt with accordingly.

We saw between 1939 and 1944 the world rise up to condemn the Nazi regime to the trash heap of history—which is exactly where it belongs—with its appalling treatment of those who did not follow its extreme ideology. As the world rose up to send it to the trash heap of society, so too does New South Wales. This legislation means that New South Wales is a place where everyone can expect protection and safety from serious vilification and appalling hate crimes that are often perpetrated under the guise of a former Nazi regime or extremism. The display of a Nazi symbol undermines our shared values, and causes harm and distress to others in the community, including those from the Jewish faith. It also causes distress to many who were targeted during those dark days in Europe from before 1939 to 1945 by the appalling Nazi regime. They included people with disabilities, those who recognised as being homosexual or if they simply had a different political ideology to the extremists.

The New South Wales Government also recognises that the swastika, commonly considered a Nazi symbol, has been appropriated from the Buddhist, Hindu and Jain faiths. To this day those groups are working towards rightfully reclaiming their symbol. However, the aim of the reform is not to punish those who unknowingly display a Nazi symbol or who display a symbol without knowing that it is a Nazi symbol. The objective is not to criminalise unintentional behaviour, but to send a strong and clear message that this vilifying conduct is unacceptable to civilised society in New South Wales. I speak for so many people on the Central Coast who are nothing but disgusted with the behaviour carried on by people using Nazi propaganda and paraphernalia to extoll extremist virtues.

For this reason, the bill provides that a person only commits an offence if they knowingly display a Nazi symbol. There may be circumstances where an individual may not be aware that a symbol is associated with Nazism. Whilst some Nazi symbols like the Hakenkreuz are well-known, there is a risk that some people may share images of less well-known symbols without knowing what they are. As we have heard previously, the Nazi regime was fixated on adopting symbolism as part of its regime. It stole other symbols of ideology and falsely claimed them as their own.

The New South Wales Government is committed to raising more awareness about how the display of Nazi symbols can cause harm in our community. It is vitally important that the bill is appropriately balanced in its objectives of targeting harmful conduct while not punishing unintentional conduct. The Government believes that the bill strikes the right balance and will produce the most just outcome. That emanates from the inquiry in February 2022; I thank all those members who took part and all those people who contributed, not least the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies. So many people took part in that inquiry to ensure that this piece of legislation does exactly what it is intended to do.

The bill deliberately does not define the term "Nazi symbol". As the member for Vaucluse explained in her second reading speech, the words are to be given their ordinary, well‑understood meaning and are intended to capture not only the more well‑known symbols, such as the Hakenkreuz or the Nazi flag, but also a range of other, lesser‑known Nazi symbols. This drafting will ensure that the offence is broad enough to capture all relevant traditional, well‑known symbols associated with the Nazi regime, such as the Hakenkreuz or the Nazi flag, as well as those lesser‑known symbols; to capture newer symbols adopted by Neo‑Nazi groups; and to adapt to changing extremist practices. They cannot hide. The world rose up and condemned the Nazi regime to the trash heap of history, which is where it belongs, and our world does not tolerate those sorts of extremist behaviours. I am proud to be part of a government that is delivering the Crimes Amendment (Prohibition on Display of Nazi Symbols) Bill. It is so important that we send a clear message to those who think they can hide or get away with this sort of behaviour: Your day is done. You have nowhere to hide. This legislation does exactly that.

As outlined in the second reading speech, new section 93ZA (3) provides a non‑exhaustive list of what may constitute a reasonable excuse for the display of a Nazi symbol. There are exceptions for academic, artistic or educational purposes, quite rightly, which would also encompass any material intended to promote those purposes. I think almost everyone in this place has made a journey to the Australian War Memorial, where they would have seen Nazi propaganda and paraphernalia on display. But it is also a reminder that we should never, ever forget the actions of the past that were carried out under the guise of the Nazi regime against millions of innocent people. It is important to strike that balance. It is important that we do not hide the history of the Holocaust and what took place because people need to be fully aware of that.

A few years ago, my wife and I had the privilege to travel overseas, and we attended the Holocaust museum in Washington, DC. If ever there was a confronting place, it is that museum. It helped us to understand and to get a brief inkling into the pain, suffering and torment that was lumbered on a completely innocent group of people because of extreme ideology. It was an emotionally draining place to visit. But, at the same time, everybody should have the experience of understanding what people were exposed to under the Nazi regime, and the disgusting behaviour and appalling symbolism that it tried to foist on everybody. Those who did not agree were simply exterminated or eliminated. It is important that locations like those overseas and in Australia have the ability to show people what was done by that disgusting regime.

Extension of time

It is important that things such as posters, propaganda films and flyers for art galleries are not captured by the bill and fall within an exception, providing that the display of the material is done reasonably and in good faith. Whether an act falls within those exceptions will be a matter for the courts to determine by applying the words of the legislation and the exercise of their own discretion. It will also be a matter for police and prosecutors to determine whether they consider that they can disprove that the act falls within the exception. I am pleased that this State took the time to hold an inquiry in February 2022 to get the details and the important issues right in this legislation. A number of protections against vilifying conduct already exist in New South Wales, and the bill complements those and ensures an appropriate criminal law response to the targeted conduct. []

Currently the law in New South Wales does not directly prohibit the public or private display of the swastika or other Nazi symbols without further protections. For example, it is an offence under section 93Z of the Crimes Act 1900 to intentionally or recklessly threaten or incite violence on grounds of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex or HIV/AIDS status. That provision was enacted in 2018 and is an important part of the Government's response to hateful vilification being conducted in our community. There are many situations in which the public display of Nazi symbols could constitute an offence under section 93Z, such as at a public rally where a Nazi flag is displayed along with chants exhorting violence, or in a video posted online where the display of the symbol is accompanied by wording or text containing that same disgusting incitement of violence.

However, while clearly intended to express and incite hatred, the display of the symbol without anything more, such as a Nazi flag hanging on someone's property or a swastika spray‑painted on a public wall, would be unlikely to contravene section 93Z. The display of Nazi symbols may amount to civil vilification under section 20C of the Anti‑Discrimination Act 1977. That provision covers any public act that incites hatred, serious contempt or serious ridicule of a person or group of persons on the ground of race. However, that provision does not carry any criminal sanction. The New South Wales Government's reforms will fill those gaps. The bill reaffirms the New South Wales Government's strong commitment to abolishing serious vilification and hate crimes that are knowingly undertaken by individuals or, even worse, corporations. The potential consequences of the bill have been well thought out, as I articulated earlier, after careful consideration and thorough community and stakeholder consultation.

The member for Vaucluse is in the Chamber. I note her passionate advocacy for this legislation and her thoughtful contributions to debate. The Government's approach is measured and will target the obscenest acts of displaying Nazi symbols in our community. It is time to act on extremism and ensure the safety of our wider community. The reform represents a significant step in combating the display of Nazi symbols in New South Wales and will send a strong message that intentionally displaying such symbols is unacceptable. As I said before, the world rose up between 1939 and 1945 to condemn those who propagated and promulgated that sort of disgusting behaviour in Nazi Germany. They are relegated to the trash bin of society, which is exactly where they belong. I again thank everyone who contributed to the inquiry. I thank the members who participated in that inquiry; some of the contributions were incredibly confronting for them. I again thank the member for Vaucluse for her passionate advocacy on this issue. I know that I speak on behalf of so many people on the Central Coast when I say that we welcome this legislation. I commend the bill to the House.

Dr HUGH McDERMOTT (Prospect) (15:53:20):

I contribute to debate on the Crimes Amendment (Prohibition on Display of Nazi Symbols) Bill 2022. The bill should be recognised as one of the more historic pieces of legislation to be considered by the Parliament of New South Wales and follows the first precedent set by the Parliament of Victoria, which enacted legislation banning these hate symbols. I note that similar legislation was adopted some decades ago in Europe, in some states in the United States and in other parts of the world. The purpose of the bill is to amend the Crimes Act 1900 to ban the display of symbols associated with Nazism and to punish those who publicly display and promote those symbols.

As the member for Prospect, one of the most multicultural electorates in the State and the nation, as a proud advocate of multiculturalism and as a fierce opponent of fascism, far-right ideologues and racism in all its forms, I strongly support this bill. The banning of these symbols by Parliament, which represent the most evil of ideologies, is long overdue. Adolf Hitler and his Nazi followers are the most extreme personification of hatred, racism and genocidal mass murder. We must always condemn any favourable memory of the Nazi Party and the Third Reich whenever we can and cast out this terrible legacy.

There is a clear urgency to legislate banning the display of Nazi symbols. Antisemitism perpetrated by neo-Nazis is on the rise around the world and particularly in New South Wales. In 2020 the NSW Police Force recorded some 112 reported incidents of antisemitism, including 31 Nazi flag incidents spanning across a two- year period. The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation [ASIO] stated that in February 2020 violent far-right extremism accounted for one-third of counter-terrorist operations by ASIO and the Federal Police—an increase from 10 per cent to 15 per cent since 2016. ASIO also advised that it has observed small cells of neo- Nazi terrorists meeting across the country, espousing antisemitism and racist beliefs, saluting Nazi flags and symbols, and undertaking weapons training. That includes within New South Wales.

The bill will have a critical impact by ensuring that neo-Nazis are unable to promote their ideology in our State via the public display of Nazi symbols. The bill will also ensure that individuals and groups who promote Nazi symbols will be punished for doing so. Proposed section 93ZA (1) stipulates that a person who publicly displays defined Nazi symbols will be guilty of an offence. The maximum penalty for an individual is 100 penalty units or imprisonment for 12 months, or both. Corporations that are guilty of publicly displaying the symbols will receive a maximum penalty of 500 penalty units. Those punishments are just and sensible. But, personally, if it was up to me, the length of the imprisonment periods and the penalties would be much higher. The described punishments must deter individuals from publicly displaying Nazi symbols.

The ideology of Nazism is spread through its use of symbolism. In order for us to contain its spread, the symbols associated with the ideology must be banned. Law enforcement officials are able to identify neo-Nazis through their public display of those symbols, but they must be granted the power to arrest them to affect real change. The criminal justice system must also have the power to prosecute neo-Nazis who are brought to justice for the display of those symbols of hatred. The bill will provide law enforcement and prosecutors with such powers. The bill shows indiscriminate punishment of individuals who publicly display Nazi symbols. However, the bill must ensure that individuals who have legal consent to publicly display symbols, such as the swastika, without malicious intent are not prosecuted—namely, I speak of those in the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain faith communities. Proposed section 93ZA (3) states that:

(3)Also, without limiting subsection (1), a reasonable excuse includes the display of a Nazi symbol done reasonably and in good faith—

(a)for an academic, artistic or educational purpose, or

(b)for another purpose in the public interest.

The words "the public interest" should be noted. No doubt neo-Nazis will try to say it is something for artistic or educational purposes, when we know hatred, antisemitism and racism are behind it. This is crucially important, as it allows the public to still have access to these symbols for the sake of educational purposes. The public must be able to have access to knowledge of why the Nazi ideology is evil, as well as the symbols associated with it, so that they may never be glorified in public. Proposed new section 93ZA (2, states:

(2)For subsection (1), the display of a swastika in connection with Buddhism, Hinduism or Jainism does not constitute the display of a Nazi symbol.

I applaud this provision. It is important the public understands that there is a huge difference between the perverted Nazi swastika and swastikas that are spiritual symbols in those three religious traditions. The swastika symbols used in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism have been part of those religious traditions for thousands of years. They predate the perverted use of the swastika in the comparatively brief history of Nazism. Hindus, Buddhists and Jains should be proud—and are proud—to display their versions of the swastika, which have nothing to do with the vile hatred that the Nazi swastika represents, nor should they have to fear prosecution for doing so.

I am glad that this bill has been proposed, and I am proud to support its passage. I reiterate, it is long overdue. The concerns consistently raised by law enforcement agencies—for at least six years—about the ever- increasing rise of terrorism carried out by neo-Nazis in New South Wales should have been warning enough for this Liberal Government to act long ago. But the Liberal Government has done nothing to curtail its spread until now. It was the New South Wales Labor Opposition that first raised this issue to enact legislative reform, not the Liberals in government.

I acknowledge my NSW Labor parliamentary colleague the Hon. Walt Secord, MLC, shadow Minister for Police and shadow Minister for Counter Terrorism, who originally introduced the Crimes Amendment (Display of Nazi Symbols) Bill 2021. That bill is far more specific in defining Nazi symbols. It includes the Nazi flag and the Hakenkreuz, the Nazi hooked cross, which was the official emblem of the Nazi Party and the Third Reich. They are the two Nazi symbols that should be banned from display. The Crimes Amendment (Display of Nazi Symbols) Bill 2021 is also more comprehensive in defining public display of these symbols through three separate methods:

(a)any form of written or visual communication to the public, including writing, displaying notices, playing of recorded material, broadcasting and communicating through social media and other electronic methods, and

(b)the wearing or display of clothing, signs or symbols in a way that is observable by the public, and

(c)the distribution or dissemination of written or visual material to the public.

Extension of time

It is my belief that things such as tattoos and other such symbols should also be enough to warrant prosecution. []

The Crimes Amendment (Display of Nazi Symbols) Bill 2021 also has more detail concerning the avoidance of doubt about civil liberties. Proposed section 93ZA (6) (a) states that any act may be public even if it occurs on private land. This will ensure that the display of these symbols anywhere is unacceptable and will not be tolerated by our community, law enforcement or the criminal justice system. Provisions defining "Nazi symbols" and the method of their display are notably absent from the Crimes Amendment (Prohibition on Display of Nazi Symbols) Bill 2022, which I find very disappointing. There is a danger that the vagueness of this bill, in comparison with shadow Minister Secord's bill, will leave the display of Nazi symbols too open to interpretation for those who display these symbols to be punished.

In addition to the advocacy of shadow Minister Secord, I also acknowledge the contribution of Stephen Kamper, MP, shadow Minister for Multiculturalism, and Daniel Mookhey, MLC, shadow Treasurer, in drafting the original bill. At a meeting with the Hindu Council of Australia concerning the drafting of shadow Minister Secord's bill, shadow Ministers Kamper and Mookhey expressed a strong view that individuals who are flying the Nazi Hakenkreuz pose the same threat to all communities in a multicultural civil society. All members should be able to agree on this sentiment. I applaud shadow Ministers Kamper and Mookhey for expressing this view on behalf of the New South Wales Opposition. I am pleased that shadow Ministers Secord, Kamper and Mookhey have actively engaged with the Subcontinent community through their consultation with the Hindu Council of Australia. The protection of the rights of Hindus, Buddhists and Jains to publicly display their versions of the swastika, sacred to their religious traditions, without fear of prosecution is a key component of the original bill that we need to get right.

I am pleased that the New South Wales Government has made the sensible decision to include this feature of the bill protecting those religious communities. However, it is rather ridiculous that the Liberals have been in government for almost 12 years and it has taken the advocacy of the NSW Labor Opposition to finally push it to act through the introduction of our own bill. However, this is not an issue for partisanship. Despite the Liberal‑Nationals Government delaying the process of legislative action by not supporting shadow Minister Secord's bill, I am glad we are now finally acting.

To conclude, I reiterate my strong support for the bill. Combating the spread of Nazism in New South Wales is an issue that we need to urgently act on. Law enforcement has repeatedly raised concerns that this is a consistently growing issue. One of the best ways we can combat the spread of Nazism in our State is by preventing the public display of the symbols of Nazism. Law enforcement and the criminal justice system need the power to punish those who spread the Nazi ideology through those symbols. If all members of this House support the bill, we will be on the right side of history. I commend the bill to the House.

Mr PETER SIDGREAVES (Camden) (16:06:27):

I make a contribution to debate on the Crimes Amendment (Prohibition on Display of Nazi Symbols) Bill 2022. I am very pleased to support this important bill. The bill will create a new offence of prohibiting the display of Nazi symbols. It represents an important message on denunciation and condemnation of this abhorrent conduct. However, I will speak about some of the reasons why we need exceptions. It is important that the law is able to effectively punish and deter criminal conduct without inadvertently also capturing conduct which should not be criminalised. That is why it is important for criminal laws, where necessary and appropriate, to contain suitable exceptions or defences in the interests of fairness and justice.

To ensure an appropriate balance, the bill provides that no offence is committed where the display of a Nazi symbol occurs with a reasonable excuse. The bill provides that a reasonable excuse includes the display of a Nazi symbol done reasonably and in good faith for an academic, artistic or educational purpose, or for another purpose in the public interest. This is a broad and non-exhaustive definition of "reasonable excuse". It does not preclude other grounds being relied on to establish a reasonable excuse. That is important to ensure that the bill does not unduly encroach on the freedom of speech or other activities in the public interest. For example, it is important that the bill does not impact on a teacher or an academic teaching a class on World War II and the Holocaust, a bookstore owner displaying historical textbooks, or an artist or a gallery owner displaying artwork that depicts a Nazi symbol in a way that protests against or opposes fascism or extremism.

It is also important that the bill does not inadvertently impact on fair reporting in the media of matters of public interest. A free and independent press is vital to an open democracy such as ours, and the criminal law should not impede the fair reporting of events in the public interest. By including an open category of acts carried out in the public interest, courts will be able to strike an appropriate balance between the protection of free speech and the need to protect individuals and the community from hateful and vilifying conduct. However, by limiting the exceptions to acts done reasonably and in good faith—and, where applicable, in the public interest—the bill ensures that those exceptions are not treated as loopholes by people with malicious intentions who wish to spread hate while avoiding the reach of the law. The bill has been drafted and consulted on to make sure that it strikes the right balance between criminalising abhorrent conduct and protecting free speech. As such, I am pleased to commend the bill to the House.

I pick up on the member for Prospect's comments about the bill. The Government bill differs from the Opposition's bill in key respects, including the Government bill doubling down on the maximum penalties provided under the Opposition's bill for individuals. It deliberately does not refine the term "Nazi symbol" to ensure that the offence is broad enough to capture all traditional, well-known symbols associated with the Nazi regime that are adopted by Neo-Nazi groups, and to adapt to changing extremist practices. The bill adopts the same definition of "public act" as in section 93Z for consistency. The bill provides that a person only commits an offence if they knowingly display a Nazi symbol. While any display of a Nazi symbol may cause harm and distress to others, a person should not be punished for conduct if they do so without knowledge that they are displaying a Nazi symbol. Again, I commend the bill to the House.

Mr PAUL SCULLY (Wollongong) (16:11:20):

The Crimes Amendment (Prohibition on Display of Nazi Symbols) Bill 2022 is long overdue. The bill should have been dealt with by this place and passed long ago. The bill seeks to amend the Crimes Act 1900 to create an offence of knowingly displaying Nazi symbols by public act without a reasonable excuse. The bill is almost a carbon copy of the NSW Labor bill introduced by the Hon. Walt Secord in October 2021. As I said, this could and should have already been law in New South Wales. NSW Labor has advocated for laws like this since April 2020, after a surge of racist activity in Victoria and New South Wales. NSW Labor was the first party in the country to introduce draft legislation banning the public display of Nazi symbols. The bill NSW Labor proposed was a result of feedback obtained from working with the Jewish, Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and other communities.

The member for Camden pointed out some differences between the bill currently before the House and that introduced by NSW Labor. In my view, those differences were not of enough substance to prevent Labor's bill being debated, amended and passed. Instead, as with so many other matters that NSW Labor has led on, the Government decided it did not want to support or amend our bill, instead opting to draft its own legislation and inevitably delaying the introduction of this ban. Despite the delay, Labor will not oppose this bill, although we will seek an amendment in the other place.

The legislation before members is the culmination of a long-running campaign following a number of incidents in early 2020, including someone attaching a Nazi flag to a water tower in Wagga Wagga and flying a flag in a Newtown backyard a few hundred metres from a synagogue. Nazi symbols, particularly the Nazi flag, are among the most offensive symbols that can be displayed. The Nazi flag is not only an affront to Holocaust survivors and their families but also to veterans who fought to defeat fascism in Europe, the LGBTQI community and people of German descent whose relatives survived the Nazi regime. The Nazi flag is a symbol of genocide, racism and hate. Nazi symbolism has wideranging negative impacts, and a ban on public displays of this hateful symbolism should be supported in this place with considered exemptions.

It is because of what the Nazi flag represents that it has been unlawful for a very long time to fly the flag publicly in many European countries including Germany, Austria and France. In 2020 documents obtained under freedom of information laws recorded that over a two-year period the NSW Police Force reported 112 incidents of antisemitism, including 31 Nazi flag-related incidents. More recently, incidents of right‑wing extremism have been on the rise in Australia. Perhaps people have been emboldened by events in Europe, including the war in Ukraine, and the underlying tenets of that conflict; perhaps it is a nod and a wink to a former senior US leader who showed similar behaviour; or perhaps people have been emboldened by those who have embraced COVID conspiracy theories.

The number of those incidents is on the rise in the Illawarra. I do not intend to name the group or those who are believed to be involved because they do not deserve the notoriety they seek to gain by being named in this Parliament. In my view, they do not deserve any notoriety, twisted praise or glory that they might desire to gain from having their names recorded in the Parliament. But a Neo-Nazi cell is allegedly operating in Wollongong. In April they swapped their online meetings for face‑to‑face meetings. That same cell has spent time trying to recruit people in Wollongong by posting Neo-Nazi propaganda such as stickers and posters around town. It has been a clear attempt to recruit young people but worse still, it made deliberate and offensive suggestions of hate towards local migrant communities.

I make it absolutely clear in my contribution to debate on the bill that that sort of behaviour and those attitudes are not welcome in Wollongong. We consider them to be unacceptable. They do not have broad support in the Wollongong community, nor should they. Those attitudes and ideology do not have support in Wollongong, and nor should they. No matter how many posters they try to put up, no matter how many people they try to recruit, they will be unsuccessful in Wollongong. That is because in successive waves of migration, particularly since World War II, people moved to Wollongong to find a safe and accepting community where they can live their lives and raise their families in the absence of attitudes that they moved far away from and left behind. I do not want to see that behaviour, those attitudes or that twisted ideology creep in under the guise of alleged free speech, a COVID conspiracy or anything else.

Wollongong is an example of how successful a community can be when it is made up of people from all parts of the world. Wollongong is a demonstration of the strength of a multicultural community. Neo-Nazi cells that display Nazi symbols and share Nazi hate through social media and other means have no place in Wollongong, nor should they have any place in New South Wales. That is at the heart of the reason that the bill is before this place and it is the reason that I support it. It is time to say, "Enough is enough". We must nip that behaviour in the bud and we must not let it fester. We must not let that ideological behaviour or those views take root in our communities. I take a strong view against it because I believe there is no place for that sort of behaviour. In recent reports in the local media mistaken reference was made to the use of the swastika. I was contacted by members of the Hindu community, who pointed out that the swastika is a sacred, pure and pious Hindi symbol, which is very different from the meaning appropriated by the Nazis.

I want to break the connection between the swastika and the Nazis, and stop the idea that they are one and the same because they are not. We want to restore the strength of the swastika in the Hindi community and other communities that respect the symbol of peace and harmony, and for whom the swastika plays an important role in their religion and way of life. As I have said before, in Wollongong and New South Wales there is no reason to display the symbols of hate and twisted ideology of the national socialist regime, which breed hate, racism and contempt for other people. While Labor will seek to move an amendment to the bill in the other place, we do not oppose the bill in the main because it largely replicates Labor's bill and it deals with behaviour that should be stamped out in all its forms, in all places and with every opportunity and all the power that this place can give to the law enforcement authorities.

Ms JENNY LEONG (Newtown) (16:19:43):

On behalf of The Greens I contribute to debate on the Crimes Amendment (Prohibition on Display of Nazi Symbols) Bill 2022. Neo-Nazism, far-right extremism, ultranationalism and racism are all on the rise in Australia, and it is time to confront that reality and take steps to counter it. The bill is a step in that direction and The Greens support it. It is important to recognise that changing the Crimes Act is not enough and will not end the problems that underlie the display of Nazi symbols in our society. In 2020 frightening figures from ASIO showed that cases involving far-right violent extremism constituted up to 40 per cent of its counterterrorism casework. That is a huge increase from the 10 per cent to 15 per cent in 2016.

In November 2021 a similar bill was referred to the Standing Committee on Social Issues for inquiry and report, with support from individuals and organisations who made submissions to the inquiry. I appreciate that Labor initiated this discussion, and while the Government has acted differently we can all agree that it is absolutely critical to act now in a consensus way to ban Nazi symbols. During the inquiry the Deputy Commissioner of Investigations and Counterterrorism at the NSW Police Force outlined the violent historic and current use of Nazi symbols. He said:

I think I speak for our entire organisation when I say that we have no tolerance for Nazi symbols and that the majority of mainstream Australia find it abhorrent and disgraceful. This not only relates to their historical use but also their current use by some of pathologically violent extremist groups, which are used to spread hate and incite hate crimes.

The bill is an acknowledgement that the crimes of the Holocaust and Nazism will not be forgotten. The harm and distress caused by Nazi symbols and actions towards Jewish people and other minority groups that were targeted by the Nazi regime, including the LGBTIQ community, will not and should not be tolerated. But the bill is also an acknowledgement of the alarming fact that this ideology has been allowed to grow in this country for decades, especially while extreme right-wing politicians shamefully whip up hate, demonise Muslims and create fear about refugees and asylum seekers for political gain. That has gone under the radar—or perhaps it has not—and there has been very little focus on the concerns that were raised by ASIO about the frightening growth of right‑wing extremism.

I also acknowledge that last year the home of friends of mine Paddy Gibson and Nat Wasley was attacked by Neo-Nazis. Paddy and Nat are Sydney activists and socialists, who are prominent in the Aboriginal rights and trade union movements. The attack on their home was in retaliation for organising and being involved in Black Lives Matter rallies outside this Parliament and in the city centre. On 4 December 2021 three white men with short, cropped hair and right-wing nationalist insignia on their clothing bashed on the front door of their family home prior to sundown, calling out for Paddy by name. The men subsequently ripped a security screen off a front window and smashed the glass. Paddy and Nat believe they were Neo-Nazis trying to force entry into their house. The men responsible were well known to police. One of the three had been charged for allegedly travelling from Western Australia to New South Wales to set up a Neo-Nazi chapter. A police media statement at the time of the attack stated:

Police will allege in court that the men targeted the Arncliffe home due to the occupant's political and ideological beliefs.

I am advised that one of the perpetrators recently pled guilty and was given a community corrections order. I am not saying that increasing penalties and putting more people in jail is the solution, but I ask all members who support the bill to consider whether it is acceptable to issue a community corrections order to a known Nazi who has pleaded guilty while climate activists who are engaging in non-violent, peaceful protests are being imprisoned.

It is critical to recognise the real and horrifying reality of far-right extremism in this State. Paddy said, "I have received a large volume of threats, including death threats, due to my role in the Black Lives Matter protests in Sydney. Since the attack on our house, we have found more violent and threatening rhetoric directed against me on the internet, including the listing of our home address by someone with the pseudonym "Commie Killer" on a website associated with the Australia First Party. This is all amongst horrific online racism directed at Aboriginal activists and people who have died in custody." Let us be clear: That vile ideology has been stoked by the actions of politicians and commentators, including the current Federal Leader of the Opposition, Peter Dutton, and others who hold positions of power in government and the media. Years of demonising refugees and First Nations people and tacit support of flag-waving nationalists has made the growth of right-wing extremism and nationalism in this country a shocking reality.

My Greens colleague and friend Senator Mehreen Faruqi has been a leading voice in calling for more action to acknowledge and combat far-right extremism in this country. She has pointed out the insidious nature and growth of the far right in Australia, and its links to international extremist groups. During the COVID-19 lockdowns far-right groups grew in strength by appealing to anti-lockdown sentiments. Some of those groups and individuals openly praised the Christchurch terrorist attack and were rabidly Islamophobic and antisemitic. When it comes to issues of racism and far-right extremism, The Greens call for a zero-tolerance approach. We want to strengthen our laws on extremism and hate speech and ensure that they are enforced. We also want to recognise that anti-racism education from the top down—from politicians to schoolchildren—is absolutely essential so that individuals and groups who are targeted are not subjected to the racism and violence that this ideology spawns. It also creates a sense of fear for activists and for members of different communities to ever speak out or, if they do speak out, to feel nervous about doing so because of the repercussions.

The Greens want and need a commitment to truth telling in this State and country. Just as the bill goes some way to acknowledge the hate, racism and long-lasting impacts of the Nazi symbol and far-right extremism on some communities, we must too acknowledge that we live in a colonial State that was founded on extreme racism and dispossession, which continues in various forms. We need to tell the truth about this country, our past, and the ongoing and continued impacts of invasion and dispossession to this day. The Greens support the bill, but urge the Government to recognise that it is not enough just to change the Crimes Act. We need more education, resourcing and recognition about standing up against extremism and racism when it comes to neo-Nazis, fascists and those who are advancing a radical right-wing, dangerous agenda. The Greens support the bill and urge the Government to do more.

Dr MARJORIE O'NEILL (Coogee) (16:27:58):

I make a brief contribution to debate on the Crimes Amendment (Prohibition on Display of Nazi Symbols) Bill 2022, which is well and truly overdue. The bill is an Act to amend the Crimes Act 1900 to create an offence for knowingly displaying Nazi symbols by public act and without reasonable excuse. The bill makes it an offence to knowingly display publicly a Nazi symbol, noting that an offence is committed only when there is no reasonable excuse, including displays of Nazi symbols done reasonably and in good faith for academic, artistic, educational or other public interest purposes; and that swastikas displayed for genuine Buddhist, Jain or Hindu purposes are exempted entirely.

This legislation replicates Labor's bill introduced by the Hon. Walt Secord from the other place in October 2021. NSW Labor has been advocating for this bill since April 2020, after a surge in racist and antisemitic activity in New South Wales and Victoria. In 2020, documents obtained under the freedom of information laws showed that in a two-year period the NSW Police Force had reported 112 incidents of antisemitism, including 31 Nazi flag incidents. Other reports have shown that antisemitic incidents hit record global highs in 2021. Those horrific acts are sadly present in my own community, which has one of the largest Jewish communities. I welcome the overdue introduction of this legislation. Banning the display of Nazi symbols without reasonable excuse will shine a light on all forms of antisemitism and address this age-old hate.

Sadly, right-wing extremism is on the rise in Australia and across the globe. It now accounts for one-third of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation's [ASIO] counterterrorism work. In doing its work, ASIO has observed small cells of terrorist meetings across the country, which include saluting Nazi flags, inspecting weapons, and training. The Nazi flag is deeply offensive to all Australians and Allied veterans who fought and sacrificed their lives to defeat fascism. The Nazi flag is an emblem of genocide and racism. When someone chooses to fly a Nazi flag, it is an expression of hate. The Nazi swastika represents a regime that murdered six million Jews, including more than one million children. It represents a regime that has sought nothing less than total fascist domination of Europe.

Nobody has the right to spread racism, hate or antisemitism. The Nazi symbol glorifies one of the most hateful ideologies in history and its public display causes further pain and division. Publicly flying the Nazi flag is already unlawful in many European countries, including Germany, Austria and France. Banning it in New South Wales sends a message that the dissemination of Nazi and neo-Nazi ideology through the public displays of Nazi symbols has no place in our State. I note that there has been significant consultation in the formation of the bill. The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies worked jointly with the Hindu and Jain communities to present a historic joint submission to the inquiry into Labor's original bill. Those communities hope that banning Nazi symbols will enable Hindus, Jains and others to use the swastika more openly in the ancient and sacred ways that constitute their traditions.

It must be noted that in a historic agreement the Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu and Jain communities came together to highlight the need to ban Nazi symbols and protect the eastern religious symbols appropriated by the Nazis. I acknowledge the Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu and Jain communities for their contributions to the bill. Labor will not oppose the bill. We must have consensus on this issue and in this Chamber; it is critical.

Mr RON HOENIG (Heffron) (16:32:23):

I contribute to debate on the Crimes Amendment (Prohibition on Display of Nazi Symbols) Bill 2022 to support the bill. New South Wales was the first jurisdiction in Australia to introduce a bill to make it an offence to publish a Nazi symbol or swastika. It was occasioned by the Hon. Walt Secord when he introduced a private member's bill in the other place. Since then, other jurisdictions around Australia have introduced similar bills that have either passed through those parliaments or are in the process of proceeding through Parliament. The bill in this State is a product of the determination of the Hon. Walt Secord in pursuing this issue. I pay tribute to him for that.

In the discussions about this bill or the other bills in the Commonwealth of Australia, there is always reference to the rise of ideological extremism. There were talks as late as October last year by senior Federal police officers that indicate a 750 per cent increase in the number of right-wing extremists in this nation. The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation [ASIO] in its reports as far back as 2019 indicates that one-third of its work seems to involve terrorist-type activities and ideological extremism. As we speak, ideological extremism is permeating the entire Western world. In what was once the world's most successful democracy, and certainly the world's superpower, the United States, they are struggling deeply with the right-wing ideological extremism that is occurring in their midst. I wonder how a bill like this, which will impose a maximum penalty of 12 months' imprisonment for displaying a Nazi symbol, will deal with the very difficult, complex and secret nature of some parts of ideological extremism.

The bill, like those in other jurisdictions in Australia, is not necessarily about dealing with ideological right-wing extremism. It is about sending a signal to all of Australia and the world that never again will these symbols and their public display, which glorify one of the most hateful ideologies in the history of humanity, be tolerated. There are still some survivors of the Holocaust, many of whom are reaching the age where they will not be with us for much longer. The Holocaust touched a substantial portion of European Jewry in this country, who understand and regard it with considerable passion and concern. Unfortunately, as generations move on, it becomes a footnote in history. The Holocaust is viewed as one of those dark periods in human history that cannot repeat itself. First, history has a habit of repeating itself. Secondly, we need these laws to ensure that it never happens again and that these symbols of hatred are never tolerated.

My family was touched by the Holocaust. I will tell the House part of my experience of growing up with a mother who was a survivor of the Holocaust. Two generations of her family were exterminated during the Holocaust. She never told me her story; I was oblivious to it. During her lifetime she gave an oral history to the Spielberg foundation. I was aware of that because I remember when my children were little coming towards the end of it and having something to say, but I was not there during her interview. She had never spoken about it in her lifetime. Probably the most difficult thing for me was finding the videotape after her death. It made for horrendous watching. I have subsequently put it on YouTube, if anyone is interested. It is horrific to hear her describe what happened to her and when she last saw her parents. The feelings of guilt that I had as a son not knowing what my mother went through even to this day sometimes make me believe I would have been a better son had I known. In the video she explains that she took the course because she did not want to burden either me or my sister with that knowledge.


I was never aware of the extent of her persecution or where she was during the war until after her death. I worked out her movements and a few years ago went to Europe and followed the path of her and her parents. I will tell the House what it is like to grow up with a mother who was a Holocaust survivor. She would forbid war pictures or anything of that nature appearing on television and she would not have been able to stand the sight of any sort of Nazi uniform or paraphernalia. I remember on one occasion as a relatively young boy—I was not that young because I think I was 10 or 11 before we had our first TV—I was with my father and we were watching a black-and-white war series on television called . My mother walked into the lounge room as a Nazi soldier appeared on the screen and she ran from the lounge room into the bathroom. She closed the door and I could hear her being physically ill. That was quite a shock, even to an 11- or 12-year-old—however old I was at the time. I did not know her history, other than that she was a Holocaust survivor and my grandparents were murdered during the Shoah.

Extension of time

That experience is not unique and would be shared by children of other Holocaust survivors. The impact on them of Nazi symbols of hate is deeply entrenched in their psyche. Most Holocaust survivors never spoke about it. Those who do are very rare, and include survivors who donate their time to the Jewish Museum. Even though I did not particularly understand them, the impact on my mother of those symbols of hatred impacted me and her other children. When I see, as I do from time to time, a swastika painted on the walls of Maroubra Synagogue, I think, "Who would do such a thing?" Similarly, a few years ago a neighbour of the synagogue said to the rabbi, "They didn't kill enough of you during World War II." []

We must continue not just to speak out but also to introduce laws such as this, to send a signal to our society that these symbols of hatred will not be tolerated in our democratic society. We turn our back on these symbols of extremism, and on the dreadful, hateful ideology that is a part of human history. So seriously do we regard the symbols of this hatred that people will go to jail if they display them publicly. As somebody who has been impacted very remotely and protected from the real hatred that my mother and her entire family went through, I say that these symbols are deeply hurtful to those who experienced that hatred and misery. We must educate our community to ensure that this part of human history does not repeat itself. By enacting this bill into law, as a Parliament we say unanimously "Never again".


I thank the member for Heffron. I echo the sentiment of the Government in expressing my appreciation of that contribution.

Mr STEPHEN KAMPER (Rockdale) (16:44:00):

I make a contribution to debate on the Crimes Amendment (Prohibition on Display of Nazi Symbols) Bill 2022. I acknowledge that the bill makes it an offence to knowingly display a Nazi symbol publicly, and rightly so. An offence is only committed when there is no reasonable excuse, which includes displays of Nazi symbols done reasonably and in good faith for academic, artistic, educational or other public interest purposes. Swastikas displayed for genuine Buddhist, Jain or Hindu purposes are exempted entirely. The legislation substantially replicates NSW Labor's bill introduced by the Hon. Walt Secord in October 2021. NSW Labor has been advocating for the bill since April 2020 after a surge of racist activity in Victoria and New South Wales. It takes into account almost all of the constructive feedback obtained during the February 2022 committee inquiry and consultations with Jewish, Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and other culturally and linguistically diverse communities over the last two years.

In 2020, documents obtained under freedom of information laws showed that in a two-year period New South Wales reported 112 incidents of antisemitism, which is hard to believe, including 31 Nazi flag incidents. I have visited Yad Vashem. My father passed away in Israel, so I had all the reasons in the world to visit there. When I made that visit, I felt the deep, intergenerational grief and trauma within the Jewish community. I have seen the undisputed evidence—there is no doubt—of the industrial scale efforts by the Nazi regime under its symbols. I have seen the maps of Europe where there is an effort to identify the number of Jewish people in particular countries. I still cannot understand how people can be of a mindset of targeting a little island in Greece that has 2,000 Jews and wanting to go there to destroy those people. It is a depth of hatred that is inconceivable to all of us here. I cannot forget the atrocities or the stories that were told to me, even by Greeks, of Nazi soldiers coming into towns and threatening the lives of its citizens if they did not give them a list of Jewish people in their communities.

When I visited Yad Vashem, the main theme that emerged, which is the same theme that is projected by Jewish communities in Sydney, is that we should never, ever forget. When we stop reflecting and remembering what this Nazi regime did is when we open the door to that behaviour occurring again. It is extremely important that our laws should always discourage any thinking that would ever promote any form of activity directed at any people or minority groups. I acknowledge the excellent work of my colleague the Hon. Walt Secord. He has been relentless in his pursuit of this legislation. I thank Darren Bark from the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies who is always there to give advice when it is needed. He is a fantastic representative of his community. To the survivors who are still with us, I am sorry it has taken so long, but I am encouraged that we finally got here. I strongly commend the bill to the House.

Mr MARK SPEAKMAN (CronullaAttorney General) (16:48:58):

— In reply: I thank members for their contribution to debate on the Crimes Amendment (Prohibition on Display of Nazi Symbols) Bill 2022. I thank the members representing the electorates of Maroubra, Oatley, The Entrance, Terrigal, Prospect, Camden, Wollongong, Newtown, Coogee, Heffron and Rockdale for their advocacy on the bill. I thank the member for Vaucluse for her steadfast and consistent advocacy on behalf of her community for these important reforms and her ongoing communications with key stakeholders. I thank the Minister for Multiculturalism, who is in the Chamber, for his strong advocacy on this important bill on behalf of culturally and linguistically diverse communities right across New South Wales, particularly the Jewish community. I thank the member for Vaucluse for delivering the second reading speech on my behalf when I was absent with COVID. There is no room in our society for what Nazi symbols represent—hatred, abject racism and genocide. The bill reaffirms the New South Wales Government's powerful opposition to extremism and neo-Nazism and its powerful commitment to abolishing serious vilification and hate crimes. I commend the bill to the House. I request that the bill be considered in detail.


The question is that this bill be now read a second time.

Motion agreed to.

Consideration in detail requested by Mr Mark Speakman.

Consideration in Detail


By leave: I will deal with the bill in groups of clauses and schedules. The question is that clauses 1 and 2, and schedule 1 be agreed to.

Mr MARK SPEAKMAN (CronullaAttorney General) (16:51:04):

— I move Government amendment No. 1 on sheet c2022-141D:


No. 1

Page 3. Insert after line 19—

[2]Section 584

Insert after section 583—

584Review of Part 3A, Division 9

(1)The Minister must, from time to time, review Part 3A, Division 9 to determine whether—

(a)the policy objectives of the Division remain valid, and

(b)the terms of the Division remain appropriate for securing the objectives.

(2)A review under subsection (1) must be commenced—

Crimes Amendment (Prohibition on Display of Nazi Symbols) Act 2022

(a)for the first review—within 3 years and 6 months after the commencement of the , and

(b)for subsequent reviews—at intervals of not more than 5 years.

(3)A report on the outcome of each review is to be tabled in each House of Parliament within 12 months after the last day by which the review must be commenced.

The Government is pleased to move this amendment. We understand that the Hon. Walt Secord, MLC, has signalled his intention to move an amendment in the other place that would have the effect of creating a requirement for a statutory review to be undertaken as soon as possible after the period of two years from the commencement of the Act, with the review to be tabled within six months after the two-year period ends. In recognition of the intent of the member's proposed amendment and to ensure passage of the bill through both houses of Parliament this week, the Government is moving the amendment on sheet c2022-141D in this House to propose a statutory review mechanism whose review time periods align with those that the Parliament supported recently in relation to the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Sexual Consent Reforms) Act 2021.

This amendment would have the effect of requiring a review to be undertaken within three years and six months after the commencement of the Act and subsequent reviews of not more than five years. An outcome of each review is to be tabled in each house of Parliament within 12 months after the last day by which the review must be commenced. These time frames will seek to ensure that in undertaking the review there is sufficient case law and court matters to have regard to. What can happen is if we have a review too quickly—and this has happened—the review takes place and the report of the review is that it is too soon to form any recommendations about reform or how the Act is going, whether it is consistent with its objectives and whether the detail of the Act is okay because there has not been enough activity or operations or case law to evaluate the progress of the new legislation.

The Government proposes a longer review period to get that evidence base to see how the amendments are working, and also to align with the precedent that we have already enacted and had support in this place in relation to the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Sexual Consent Reforms) Act 2021.

Mr MICHAEL DALEY (Maroubra) (16:54:04):

The Hon. Walt Secord was right to move a review of this groundbreaking legislation to ensure that this Parliament has oversight of not only whether the policy objectives of the provision remain valid but also how they are working in effect. Having regard to what the Attorney General has said and given what we all said about this proposed legislation today and the reasons for its requirement sooner rather than later, the Opposition is happy to agree to the amendment moved by the Attorney General.


The question is that Government amendment No. 1 on sheet c2022-141D be agreed to.

Amendment agreed to.


The question is that clauses 1 and 2, and schedule 1 as amended be agreed to.

Clauses 1 and 2 and schedule 1 as amended agreed to.

Third Reading


I move:

That this bill be now read a third time.

Motion agreed to.