Tuesday, 21 June 2022
Summary Offences Amendment (Nazi Symbol Prohibition) Bill 2022
Summary Offences Amendment (Nazi Symbol Prohibition) Bill 2022
Debate resumed on motion of Mr LEANE:
That the bill be now read a second time.
Mr ONDARCHIE (Northern Metropolitan) (12:54): I rise today to speak on the Summary Offences Amendment (Nazi Symbol Prohibition) Bill 2022, and in starting my contribution today can I pay tribute to the wonderful work of former Shadow Attorney-General Edward O’Donohue and former Shadow Minister for Police David Southwick, who back in February of 2020 announced that a Liberal-Nationals government would amend the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 to ban the display of the Nazi swastika and other Nazi symbols which are intended to incite hate in Victoria. This decision was taken following an increase in the use of Nazi imagery to harass and harm Victorians—abhorrent behaviour by people that we have seen right across metropolitan Melbourne and in regional Victoria.
In March 2021 the Legal and Social Issues Committee of the Legislative Assembly reported on the effectiveness of the state’s anti-vilification laws. The committee recommended a number of things, which included this recommendation, 24:
That the Victorian Government establish a criminal offence that prohibits the display of … Nazi ideology, including the Nazi swastika, with considered exceptions to the prohibition.
There are very few bills that come before this Parliament that get bipartisan support and even fewer with positions proposed by the Liberal-Nationals, but this is one on which I think it is worth congratulating the work of Edward O’Donohue along with David Southwick and Michael O’Brien, who did a torrent of work around this. I was involved in this process. We did an extensive amount of consultation to ensure that this was done right, and I am glad that the Attorney-General of this state was able to pick up the concerns that were raised by the Liberals and Nationals. However, I do note that this process has been extremely slow from those on the government side. This could have been implemented if the government had started the process when the Liberals and Nationals first called for it.
People use the term ‘swastika’. I want to correct that for the record to make sure we are talking about the right thing. I am talking about the Nazi hate symbol, the Hakenkreuz, often referred to, which is a symbol with a cross with the arms bent at right angles in a clockwise direction or a symbol that so nearly resembles it that it is likely to be confused or mistaken for that symbol. This bill only applies to the Nazi swastika or the Hakenkreuz. It does not apply to other symbols of the Third Reich. I say that because there are a number of elements in our community where this could be confused. I think carefully about our Hindu community, our Buddhist community and our Jain community, who use a form of this symbol that people may confuse, and I want to get that right. Today I want to also pay tribute to the Honourable Jason Wood, who led an extensive amount of community consultation, which I was involved in, to make sure we got this right and that it was not in fact affecting the Hindu community, the Jain community and the Buddhist community and their symbols that they use for their religious activity.
For our Jewish community in this state there is no doubt that the use of the Nazi symbol, especially when it is done in an intentional way, causes great distress, and unfortunately there are people in this state who use this symbol to effect emotional pain or torment on people of the Jewish faith. It has been pretty concerning to see that that hate conduct has been on the rise in Victoria and more broadly in Australia in the last few years. Encouragingly it is a good time to bring this in to stop those sorts of hate symbols being used even at things like Jewish festivals. It is outrageous.
We have seen images recently on our TV news and in newspapers of members of the Jewish community being targeted with verbal abuse, physical abuse, targeted imagery such as this symbol, online and in other media as well. This abuse occurs everywhere—when they go to the shops, when they are on their way to or from the local synagogue, at their places of residence, at their work and even at schools. I am not the first and I will not be the last to call out this sickening behaviour that harasses people, that torments people, that intimidates them and that precludes the ability of those Victorians to live a free and open life. Sadly there are many consequences of antisemitism which can lead to fear, to the loss of self-esteem and the downplaying of their Jewish identity.
As the Shadow Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship in the Liberal-Nationals coalition and the only multicultural member of the Liberal-Nationals parliamentary party, I want every Victorian to be proud of their heritage. I want them to be proud of their faith. I want them to be proud of where their families originally came from. I want all the different cultures to share their ideas, their stories and their cultures to make this state an even greater place to live. I have to say that I was one of the first people to be delighted when in 2018 the first Indian woman was elected to our Parliament. I was delighted, and Ms Vaghela, I say to you every day when I see you, ‘Welcome to this place’. It is a good statement. This Parliament has to be more about representing multicultural Victoria.
It is a concern when I hear people like the Anti-Defamation Commission chairman Dr Abramovich say that the Nazi symbol is an epidemic that is only getting worse. This bill does draw a line in the sand. It says, ‘Enough is enough’. To those who are thinking about intimidating people or harassing people with the Nazi symbol: do not do it. It is as simple as that, because you will be committing an offence. But I want to hold the Attorney-General to account on this and not just do a ‘set and forget’. They need to spend the next six months engaging with councils, with the police and with the community to ensure that anyone who does break the law is held to account and held to justice. That might mean involving more police, better facilities and greater resources.
There will be some that say, ‘Why do we need a ban on this when people have been advocating for this for a long time and people can deal with it?’. Well, I am not sure that is right. Joseph Symon is 97 years of age and is a survivor of the Holocaust. He recently wrote to a New South Wales inquiry on the impact of this Nazi hate symbol. He said:
The swastika is a very vivid reminder of hatred, senseless loss of life of millions of people, jewish and non-jewish and the murder of my father.
He went on to say:
When I see a swastika in Australia it brings forward all the cruelty that people lived through and it also helps the … neo Nazi’s push their agenda …
Mr Symon went on to say the symbol is about:
… hatred, hatred by the Nazis not only to Jews … but anybody who was against them. For that reason, still today, the sight of any Nazi flags with the swastika is very disturbing for me.
Mr Symon, this Parliament pays its respects to you. We agree with you.
One of the things I will be interested in hearing much more from the government about when they respond to this bill is how they are going to roll out a strong communication and education plan to the community about the banning of the Hakenkreuz, the Nazi hate symbol. I want to know more about what they are planning to do in letting the community know given they have moved the education period from 12 months back to six months. There is a lot of work to do to inform the police, to inform educators, to inform community groups—to inform a lot of organisations—about how this could be done. What about the 2000 schoolteachers that need to know about this? What about the 80 councils, the shopping centres, the fast-food outlets and even the Amazon person delivering to a Hindu home to find there is a religious symbol of the Hindu community on their front door and not objecting to that? There is a lot of work to be done. It is nothing like running a COVID-19 ad on the TV. There is a lot more work to be done on educating communities about the Nazi symbol of hate compared to the religious swastikas that are used by the Hindu community, by the Jain community and by the Buddhist community. There is a lot of work to be done, so I am going to be very interested in hearing the Attorney-General in her summing up talk about how they are going to roll out specifically the education and communication plan around this legislation, should it pass today, which it should do.
I want to thank the Hindu Council of Australia for reaching out to me, the Hare Krishna movement for reaching out to me, the Swaminarayan community for reaching out to me and others in the Hindu and Jain communities for reaching out. And again, for his leadership, I thank the Honourable Jason Wood, the federal member for La Trobe, for taking this forward into the community for more consultation.
When it comes to legislation in this place, it only gets royal assent when the government presents it to the Governor. It is at the whim of the government when they present a bill to the Governor for royal assent. So one of the things I am going to be interested in in the passage of this legislation—and I will be looking for the Attorney-General to sum up about this, should we not have to take this into committee—is knowing exactly when the government will present this to the Governor for royal assent. Because if we are talking about bringing this forward and if we are talking about doing the right thing and matching it to an education and communications plan, I want to know exactly when they are going to put this in front of Her Excellency the Governor of Victoria, the Honourable Linda Dessau, for royal assent. Because that is really important to our Jewish community—to know when we are actually going to get on with this.
It is really important for us to get this going in terms of both protecting the religious needs of our Hindu, Jain and Buddhist communities but also protecting the rights and wellbeing of our Jewish community. I think it is a really important point to make that the Nazis’ hate-filled murderous campaigns extended across a wide group of people: across the Roma and Sinti people often labelled as Gypsies, across black people, across people with disabilities, across Slavic and Polish people, across the LGBT community and across anyone that stood against the Nazi regime. That may explain why there is overwhelming support to ban this Nazi hate symbol.
I want to encourage the government to get on with it. I want to encourage the government to make sure this bill achieves royal assent and comes into practice very soon, of course matched to that communication plan. The Liberals and Nationals of course support this bill. It started with the work of David Southwick and Edward O’Donohue, and it should finish today with support for this very important piece of legislation.
Mr ERDOGAN (Southern Metropolitan) (13:06): I am pleased to rise in support of the Summary Offences Amendment (Nazi Symbol Prohibition) Bill 2022. It is pleasing to hear that the state opposition is also supporting this bill. It is an important piece of work. The bill creates a new offence in the Summary Offences Act 1966 which prohibits a person from intentionally displaying a Nazi symbol in a public place if the person knows or reasonably ought to know that the Nazi symbol is a symbol associated with Nazi ideology. The Hakenkreuz will be prohibited, as will a symbol that closely resembles it.
The bill seeks to ensure that the swastika significant to the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain communities is not captured. That is distinguished and separated. This is all set out in the preamble with legislative examples and specific exemptions for genuine religious or cultural use. There are also exemptions for academic, artistic, scientific, educational, publishing, opposition to fascism or Nazism, administration of justice or law enforcement purposes. Some conduct and display not prohibited at this stage include tattoos and online trade, but I will elaborate on these a bit later. Once in effect, anyone who intentionally displays the Nazi symbol in public will face penalties of almost $22 000, 12 months imprisonment or potentially both. Our government intends to move an amendment to include an early default commencement date of six months after royal assent. This is in response to calls from the community following incidents which occurred the day after this bill was introduced in the lower house. Sadly antisemitism is on the rise abroad and at home.
My electorate of Southern Metropolitan is home to much of Melbourne’s Jewish community, and I know the profound contribution to our state that this community has made and continues to make. Antisemitism hurts the Jewish community deeply and offends all of us. The government has responded to the scourge of antisemitism in schools by teaching students about the Holocaust and stamping out antisemitism. Last year we announced that an additional 110 teaching teams at government secondary schools will undertake a professional learning program run by the Jewish Holocaust Centre before the end of 2022, building on the 40 government schools undertaking the program this year. The teaching teams will also be able to meet a Melbourne-based Holocaust survivor and hear firsthand their unique experiences.
It is also fitting that this bill comes to the house this week during Refugee Week, as much of the Jewish community of Melbourne are refugees from Nazi attacks across Europe during World War II. We are proud to deliver this bill, which makes Victoria the first Australian state or territory to ban the public display of the Nazi symbol. We recognise the role of Nazi symbols in inciting antisemitism and hate. The bill specifically prohibits public display of the Hakenkreuz. Importantly the bill also distinguishes and acknowledges the swastika which has great cultural and religious significance for Hindu, Buddhist and Jain communities. The bill also fulfils a Victorian government commitment to implement recommendation 24 of the 2021 report of the Legal and Social Issues Committee’s inquiry into anti-vilification protections in Victoria to ban the public display of Nazi symbols. It also forms part of the government’s broader commitment to introduce a suite of reforms to strengthen anti-vilification protections in Victoria.
Our government is committed to protecting the rights of all Victorians to be free from racism, vilification and hatred and to ensuring everyone feels welcome and accepted. We know that the harm caused by hate conduct and vilification can be profound. It can affect the physical and psychological wellbeing of individuals and often prevents them from feeling comfortable and participating in the community to their full potential. Victoria has seen a number of recent incidents where the display of Nazi symbols has been used to intimidate and convey a message of hate and intolerance. We are horrified by these stories. The display of symbols associated with Nazis and Neo-Nazi ideology is harmful and offensive to all members of our society and particularly to the Jewish community. Nazi symbols have been used and continue to be used to communicate hatred and cause harm to a wide range of groups: LGBTIQ+ people, people with disabilities and other racial and religious groups. This type of harm is completely unacceptable in our society, which is proudly democratic, diverse, multicultural and multifaith.
As outlined in the opening statement, the bill does create a new offence under the Summary Offences Act 1966 which prohibits a person from intentionally displaying a Nazi symbol in a public place. The ban applies to displays in public places, which ordinarily include a range of locations such as railway stations, markets, churches and licensed premises. The bill also ensures that non-government schools and post-secondary institutions are covered. The Hakenkreuz will be prohibited, or a symbol that very closely resembles it. The bill ensures that Nazi symbols can continue to be used in appropriate circumstances. There are several exceptions for this public display if done in good faith and reasonable. They include for genuine religious or cultural purposes, in particular to capture the symbol used by Buddhist, Hindu and Jain communities, as well as for academic, educational, artistic or scientific purposes, in publishing a report, in opposition to fascism or Nazism, for law enforcement and in the administration of justice. As stated earlier, once in effect anyone who intentionally displays the Nazi symbol will face penalties of up to $22 000 or 12 months imprisonment or potentially both penalties.
The commencement of this bill was mentioned by Mr Ondarchie in his contribution, and I do want to address some of that. The bill was originally drafted to commence one year after royal assent. All stakeholders were consulted on the commencement before its introduction. The government is deeply concerned by the recent increase in the public display of Nazi symbols in our community. The day after the bill was introduced Hakenkreuz stickers were plastered on a number of fences, light poles and bus stops and on a Jewish community centre in Caulfield, causing great distress to the Jewish community. This is unacceptable and is exactly the conduct that this bill is intended to prevent.
In response to community calls, our government has moved an amendment to include an earlier default commencement date of six months after royal assent. This means such displays and the harm that they cause can be dealt with sooner. This still allows time for the offence to be properly implemented. Implementation and education are the key reasons why immediate commencement is not appropriate. Victoria Police needs to be provided with guidance and training for its members on the offence and updated systems. We also need to develop a community education campaign on the origins of the religious and cultural swastika, its importance to Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and other faith communities and its distinction from the Hakenkreuz, which is a critical aspect of this reform.
An important aspect at this stage is that the Hakenkreuz is the only symbol being prohibited. It is the most widely recognised symbol associated with Nazi ideology. A ban on its public display is therefore a sensible starting point. The government has agreed to monitor the use of hate symbols and may consider the addition of other symbols, such as the SS symbol, at a later stage. This approach aligns with the anti-vilification inquiry’s recommendations.
The government seeks to protect the religious and cultural use through the opening statement of this bill, exceptions to the offences and various examples. This will be supported by community education to raise awareness of the religious and cultural swastika. The preamble or opening statement details the historic and ongoing use of the swastika in the Buddhist, Hindu and Jain communities. This provides vital context to the application of the offence and makes clear that the swastika should never fall within the scope of that offence. The opening statement was co-designed with leaders from the Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist and Jain communities to ensure it appropriately reflects their views. We recognise that this religious and cultural swastika is an ancient and auspicious symbol of purity, love, peace and good fortune. We heard from faith groups about its widespread use, including in places of worship, on clothing, in art and architecture and on cars and shopfronts. This swastika is to be distinguished from the appropriated and distorted version of the symbol, also known as the Hakenkreuz, noting that the swastika was also appropriated by the Nazis. The Hakenkreuz became a symbol of the Third Reich and there were some heinous crimes perpetrated against humanity, including the Jewish community, the Roma peoples, people with disabilities and obviously political opponents such as communists. It is important to acknowledge that the swastika and Hakenkreuz are visually very similar and in some cases may appear identical; however, the intentions behind the use of the use of the swastika and the Hakenkreuz are fundamentally different.
There are also exceptions to the offence for genuine cultural and religious purposes, which will further ensure that appropriate displays of the symbol can be continued in these faith communities. This is a clear intention not to capture cultural and religious use, but if there is uncertainty in particular circumstances, a person seeking to rely on the exception will only need to raise evidence about the display which is unique to them. This does not transfer the overall legal burden of proof as the prosecution will still need to establish the central elements of the offence beyond reasonable doubt. The government acknowledges there is a diversity of views between Victoria’s religious communities about the creation and details of this offence. We have sought to strike a balance.
Who has been consulted? This is important when you are introducing bills such as this, which may have some unintended consequences for communities in that regard. Faith leaders from the Buddhist, Hindu, Jain and Jewish communities have all been consulted. Victoria Police, legal stakeholders, including the Law Institute of Victoria and Victoria Legal Aid, the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, the Victorian Multicultural Commission and other impacted stakeholders, such as Aboriginal communities and peak bodies in the creative sector, have also been consulted.
Targeted consultation with 150 stakeholders occurred between December 2021 and February 2022, with stakeholder feedback being received through written responses to a discussion paper and consultation meetings. The Department of Justice and Community Safety held seven in-depth consultation meetings with the core consultative group as well during this period. This core group included the Buddhist Council of Victoria, the Hindu Council of Australia, the Melbourne Shwetambar Jain Sangh and the Jewish Community Council of Victoria. These meetings focused on explaining and seeking feedback on key aspects of the offence and led to numerous changes to address issues raised. We acknowledge that some community members may still have some concerns about the ongoing use of the swastika or other aspects of the bill. The government will work closely with the core consultative group and others to ensure the bill does not limit their use of the sacred swastika. The Hindu Council of Australia has publicly supported the introduction of this bill, noting that it allows for ongoing use of the religious swastika and community education about its difference from the Hakenkreuz.
Tattoos are one area that will not be covered in this bill. The bill excludes tattoos, given human rights considerations and the practical enforcement issues of capturing such displays. In terms of human rights considerations, a ban on the public display of Nazi symbol tattoos would be incompatible with the charter at this time. If the offence applied to a person with a Nazi symbol tattoo in a conspicuous position on their body—for example, on their face—the person’s right to freedom of movement and expression as well as taking part in public life would be strongly curtailed. The individual would be required to perpetually cover their tattoo or would otherwise commit a new offence each time they were in public. There are also practical enforcement issues—for example, it may be difficult to determine when a tattoo was created. A ban on new tattoos would have minimal impact because individuals could still get tattoos outside of Victoria. However, should the display of Nazi symbol tattoos become a significant issue, there would be a greater cause to expand the offence to capture tattoos in the future. So it is important to understand that at this point tattoos are not covered, the trade in memorabilia is not covered at this stage and nor is online—online being for obvious reasons, because there are jurisdictional issues. Much of the regulation in this regard is with the commonwealth government, which has primary responsibility for corporations and telecommunications in our nation. That is why it would require a jurisdiction-wide offence and collaboration, and also the commonwealth would need to take action. But obviously I think this bill is an important step in the right direction. It is an important reform that sends a strong message that hate, bigotry and prejudice have no place in Victoria.
I would like to conclude by thanking all the stakeholders who engaged with the development of this bill. I wish to extend a sincere thankyou to faith leaders in the Buddhist, Hindu, Jain and Jewish communities who took the time to share their lived experience and provide vital input into the development of this bill before us. As stated by other members, future engagement will be undertaken to inform the implementation of this reform, and I wish to thank everyone in advance who will contribute to the implementation of this process. I commend the bill to the house.
Mr FINN (Western Metropolitan) (13:19): I abhor Nazism. I abhor those who try to advance that even today. I just cannot understand why or how anybody could be enchanted by this particular form of evil straight from Satan himself. I detest the sight of the swastika. I can understand why it causes so much distress to so many people. I can understand, particularly in the Jewish community, where I have many friends, why it causes such distress to them. I have actually been to Israel. I have been to the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem as well as the Holocaust museum in Washington, DC. They are incredibly moving places and a reminder of the horror of the just unbelievable inhumanity that the Nazis were responsible for almost 100 years ago. I hope one day to have the courage to go to Auschwitz. I am not sure if I will have the courage to do that, but I am hoping one day I will, because I think it would be an experience that I would never forget. I do not think it would be a happy experience. I do not think it would be an enjoyable experience in any way, shape or form, but it is an experience I believe that I should undertake at some stage.
Having said all that, I am stuck between a rock and a hard place on this particular bill, because I am a great believer in freedom of speech. I am a great believer in freedom of expression, and I have to wonder. Once we start banning political symbols of whatever type they may be—and granted the swastika as far as the Nazis are concerned is a particularly despicable form of political expression, but many of my Indian friends think otherwise. I know that I was taken aback the first time I went to an Indian gathering and there was a swastika held up in high regard. It really took me aback. I think there would be a lot of people that would be taken aback if they saw that. And I really think that we are going to see some real troubles with this bill if indeed we do not have, as Mr Ondarchie said, a major educational program along with it, because to look at them you cannot tell a Hindu swastika from a Nazi swastika. You are going to have some trouble there. I do not think that the average police officer is going to have the artistic eye—if I can call it that—to pick the difference between the two, and that is going to cause some significant difficulties in my view.
We in Victoria of course want to protect our Jewish community. We want to protect every community—that is for sure—and this bill may go some way towards doing that. But Mr Erdogan was talking before about lunatics putting up Nazi symbols on street corners and all that sort of thing. When you are mad enough to do that—if you are an absolute fruit loop who is prepared to do that—then I do not think that the law is going to stop you. I think in fact this law might actually encourage them to do that. They might say, ‘Here we go. This is something that we might’—
Mr Ondarchie: It’s a crime.
Mr FINN: It is a crime, and they might get an extra buzz out of that. That is something that we also should consider. But again, as I said earlier, I can fully understand why particularly those who have been through the Holocaust would feel such revulsion at the sight of the swastika. The Holocaust was one of the most evil times in the history of mankind. We saw at least 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis. We saw Gypsies murdered. We saw Christians murdered. We saw gay people murdered. Disabled people were the first to go. They were the ones who were used to experiment on for the best way of killing people. I have to say that I often look at my son and realise that if we had been in Nazi Germany 110 years ago, or whenever it may have been, he would have been one of the first to go. He would have been one of the first in the back of the truck, and they would have picked him up at the end of the day and taken his body out. So this is an issue that does affect me personally as well as the Jewish community.
I know that it does hurt them. Indeed it does hurt a lot of people. That is why I am stuck between my revulsion, my disgust, for the Nazis and their ideology, their philosophy and their actions, for everything that they have done in the 20th century and beyond and for all the evil that has been perpetrated by the Nazis and those lunatics who try to continue that philosophy today—that just is shameful in every way. I do not see how anybody can get any joy, any kick or anything—any benefit at all—out of promoting what Hitler did. I do not see any benefit to anyone at all. It disgusts me. It literally makes my stomach turn.
As I say, superficially looking at this bill, I grasp it, I run with it and I say, ‘This is great. I’ll go with this bill. This is a sensational thing’. But then I think of what it may lead to. I think that once we start cracking down on freedom of speech, freedom of expression and perhaps freedom of political expression as well, then we are in strife; we really are in strife. And it could end up anywhere. I am not sure at this point in time exactly where I will go on this bill. I have been thinking about it for months and months and months, and I am no closer now to making a decision than I was at the beginning of the year when this was announced. It is an incredibly difficult decision, because there is one part of me that wants to stomp on the swastika—yes, most certainly—wants to destroy the swastika and wants to destroy everything that the swastika stands for, and there is another part of me that is such a committed supporter of freedom of speech and such a committed supporter of the freedom of expression. Here we have a conflict. I am tempted at this point in time to vote against this bill. I do not want to vote against this bill, but I feel that I will probably have to.
But at this point in time I will leave my comments there. I will listen to this debate intently, and I urge members to put forward some very thoughtful contributions, because they will be contributions that will be not just expressing their view but forming my view as well. That, I think, is really what this house is all about. I thank the house for its time today, and I hope that my comments have helped a little. I wish they had helped me a little, but I hope my comments have helped a little. We will see where my vote goes when the vote is taken in this house I assume later on today.
Sitting suspended 1.29 pm until 2.05 pm.
Ms CROZIER (Southern Metropolitan) (14:05): I rise to speak to the Summary Offences Amendment (Nazi Symbol Prohibition) Bill 2022, and I want to thank my colleague Mr Ondarchie for his comments in relation to outlining our position and also explaining just how this symbol can be interpreted in different cultures and by different groups within our community.
It is one of those things that, as in my area of Southern Metropolitan Region where it affects the Jewish community in terms of the Nazi symbol, is very, very concerning. But for others, like Hindus and Indians, this symbol has been around for many, many years, it is my understanding. The symbol of the swastika has been on archaeological pieces for thousands of years and, forgive me if I am wrong, it is my understanding that in certain cultural groups, like Hindu and Buddhist, it is a sign of wellbeing, protection, prosperity and good luck. So there are different interpretations of this symbol, whilst many of us identify it as a symbol of hate through the Nazi regime and the horrendous atrocities that were performed by Hitler’s regime during the Second World War. There is no room for hate and symbols of hate, particularly like we have seen in recent political campaigns and what is going on in certain areas of our community.
So I am pleased that my colleague in the other place the member for Caulfield, David Southwick, was on the front foot looking at this, putting a proposition forward with a former Attorney-General, Edward O’Donohue, putting this issue really in the forefront to say that we need to look at this, that it cannot be tolerated, and producing an amendment to the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 to ban the public display of the Nazi swastika and other Nazi symbols that incite the hate that I spoke of—not the issue around what that symbol means for other groups.
The Legal and Social Issues Committee’s report on the anti-vilification laws included a recommendation:
That the Victorian Government establish a criminal offence that prohibits the display of symbols of Nazi ideology, including the Nazi swastika, with considered exceptions to the prohibition.
So that is what we are debating today—that recommendation that the government has taken up. But again I say that my colleague David Southwick very much led this in terms of the issues around his community. It comes after there were some very disturbing displays of the Nazi symbol, what that means and how that affects people within his area of Caulfield in particular. It is my area of Southern Metropolitan Region, and I am very familiar with this.
What I was most concerned with in the federal election were members of Parliament of the Jewish faith, such as Josh Frydenberg, former Treasurer of Australia, who did a tremendous job and is a wonderful, wonderful individual who will be very missed—the entire country will miss his particular wisdom, guidance, abilities and intellect—and the member for Macnamara, Mr Burns, who were targeted in the most appalling manner, and I just do not think we can tolerate that, nor should we. Could we just go back to some basics about respect and tolerance and not have this division set up to divide us all, to pit us against one another. It is just not what a cohesive society and community needs, particularly after what we have gone through over the last few years. So there have been a number of issues around how that was used in the last federal campaign, and I do hope that we never see the likes of it again, because it was really not just a one-off that occurred. It appeared to be systematic right across those two electorates, which was very, very disappointing.
I want to make reference also to some comments by members of the Greens party, who refused to denounce some disgraceful behaviours undertaken in saying Hitler ‘had fun’ and posting videos to that effect. That is truly offensive to many members of our community, especially members of the community of Caulfield in my area of Southern Metro. Many of them were part of the Holocaust. They are survivors of the Holocaust, and they have family members who know those stories of those that have gone before them that were also impacted by the Holocaust. So I think it is disgraceful, the way in which the Greens have really promoted that and said that. That is just, quite honestly, dreadful and unnecessary, and I want to just say how disappointing it was for the leader of the Greens not to call out members of his own party for saying such appalling things.
Just to get back to this bill, if I could, in the few minutes that I have got remaining, an issue that as a society and as a community we need to be particularly concerned about is in relation to the widespread use of this symbol in the hate sense, not the sense that I spoke of before in terms of the Hindus, Buddhists and other religions and faiths that have this symbol. It has been around for centuries—thousands of years—and it has been unfortunately taken and used in the way it has with the colours of the German Empire and the imperial flag, and that is what we are talking about here. It is that symbol, not the symbol that religious and other organisations use.
With those few comments can I say again I would like to commend the member for Caulfield, who took the lead on this, and the former Shadow Attorney-General, Edward O’Donohue, for all they have done. The government has now put this bill in the house today, and the coalition fully supports these recommendations that have come out of that inquiry, the work that was undertaken by Mr Southwick and now what the government is doing.
Ms TERPSTRA (Eastern Metropolitan) (14:13): I also rise to make a contribution on this bill, the Summary Offences Amendment (Nazi Symbol Prohibition) Bill 2022. This is an important bill, and just by way of context for those who may be watching along at home, I think it is important to just frame my contribution with the background. This bill seeks to introduce a new summary offence to prohibit the intentional public display of a Nazi symbol, specifically the Hakenkreuz, commonly known as the Nazi swastika. The Hakenkreuz is a symbol of hate and causes significant harm to Victorians, particularly the Jewish community. This landmark reform sends a clear message that the public display of the Nazi symbol has no place in Victoria, and this bill will acquit the government’s commitment to ban the display of the Nazi symbol, as recommended by the Legal and Social Issues Committee inquiry into anti-vilification protections.
I have had the benefit of hearing Ms Crozier’s contribution and a few others before that and certainly Mr Finn’s contribution. I note Mr Finn did say he was in two minds about supporting this bill—on the one hand that he felt he needed to support it but also that he had concerns about free speech. I just find that concerning. Free speech has limits, particularly when it seeks to hurt or attack a particular group in our society and community. We know that the Jewish community has suffered immense harm by people who have sought to target them by using this symbol. Free speech may give rights, but it also comes with responsibility. You just cannot talk about free speech without having that counterpoint and that counterbalance to it. This bill seeks to, as I said, create an offence under this amendment, because there is evidence of the immense harm that the use of this symbol has caused and the persecution of people in the Jewish community who have suffered by those who have sought to use it as a weapon or a tool of offence and harm.
I will focus on a couple of points to do with the bill. As I have said, I have listened to some of the contributions. The main point of my contribution will go towards what we have done in terms of consultation on the bill, but also there has been some commentary around the education campaign. It is important, again, for me to continue to frame my contribution in this way, which is that there is an opening statement and a preamble to this bill, and that preamble sets the context for the rest of the bill.
The purpose of the preamble or the opening statement is to provide the context to the offence by acknowledging the continued importance of the swastika to the Buddhist and Hindu communities and how it differs from the Hakenkreuz. People often use the term ‘swastika’ in a colloquial sense, but there are actually differences of that symbol reflected. There is even some commentary about how the swastika was culturally misappropriated by the Nazis and the Third Reich in Germany, and the Hakenkreuz is actually incompatible with other uses of the swastika. We have heard other people in this chamber today talk about Buddhist and Hindu communities who have used the swastika for long, long periods of time. It has immense cultural importance and value to those communities, so this bill is about actually not banning that. It is about banning the use of the Hakenkreuz in a way that is offensive and seeks to offend and cause hurt, humiliation and harm to the Jewish community. That is why this statement in the bill is really, really important. It needs to set that context and the frame for the debate.
The statement also includes the history of the swastika, as I said earlier, and its misappropriation and distortion by the Nazi party and the Third Reich in Germany and the incompatibility of the Hakenkreuz with Victorian society. The preamble was co-designed with faith leaders of the Buddhist, Hindu, Jain and Jewish communities. It reinforces to the public, the police and the courts that the ongoing use of the religious and cultural swastika by faith communities is not intended to be inhibited by this bill or prosecuted under the offence. That makes it pretty clear.
The offence will only be the displaying of the Hakenkreuz, more widely known as the swastika or Nazi swastika. The Hakenkreuz is the most widely recognised symbol historically associated with Nazi ideology and was the most common symbol used in recent, high-profile displays in Victoria—and we have heard stories of people displaying the Nazi flag in various communities, and this has caused a lot of concern and upset amongst members of our community—so a ban on the public display of this symbol is therefore a sensible starting point. The government has agreed to monitor the use of hate symbols in response to recommendation 25 of the anti-vilification inquiry and may consider the inclusion of additional symbols, such as the SS—the Schutzstaffel—symbol, at a later stage. I apologise; I hope I pronounced that correctly. I think I made a reasonable stab at it.
Mr Ondarchie: You didn’t butcher it too much.
Ms TERPSTRA: No, I thought it was not too bad. I will just talk a little bit more about how the swastika is used in the religious context. I have talked a bit about that, but I will just underscore that point a little bit more. The swastika is an ancient and auspicious symbol of purity, love, peace and good fortune in Buddhist, Hindu, Jain and other religions. It is important to make that point. We heard from faith groups about its widespread use, including on places of worship, clothing, art, architecture, cars and shopfronts. The ongoing use of the religious and cultural swastika by faith communities is not intended to be inhibited by this bill or prosecuted under this offence, as I said earlier.
How does the bill protect religious use of the swastika? That is the distinction we are making in this bill. You have got the Hakenkreuz, which is used to offend, hurt and humiliate people in the Jewish community, but a distinction needs to be made about the religious use of the swastika. Firstly, as I said earlier, the preamble to the opening statement was co-designed by faith leaders, and that distinguishes the cultural use of the swastika from the misappropriated use by the Nazi party and the Third Reich, so that makes that clear.
Secondly, the offence includes exceptions for the appropriate display of the Nazi symbol, which will ensure that the swastika can continue to be used for religious and cultural purposes, such as being displayed on temples to acknowledge the swastika’s benevolent connotations for Buddhist, Hindu and any other religions that use that symbol. The bill includes examples of these exceptions for clarity.
We have also committed in this bill to embarking upon an education campaign. It is different from perhaps the use of it for an academic purpose, but an educational exception has been included to reflect the broad range of circumstances in which the Hakenkreuz is displayed to educate and raise awareness. It still remains important to educate our community and particularly younger Victorians as they come through school about why the display of the Hakenkreuz is so offensive and hurtful to the Jewish community. It can be displayed for educational purposes and to raise awareness. For example, the Hakenkreuz is often displayed as part of Holocaust awareness training, so that is important. It is also included to overcome concerns that the academic exception alone may be too narrow to cover all circumstances. This is because the bill’s exceptions are based on the current exceptions to unlawful conduct in the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001, which currently does not contain an educational exception.
Although there might be significant overlap between an ‘educational purpose’ and an ‘academic purpose’, an educational purpose is intended to be broader and speaks to the point that I just made about continuing to educate people and raise awareness around the use of the Hakenkreuz and what that means. For example, the display of the Hakenkreuz in educational items for sale, such as textbooks in a bookshop, is more clearly for an educational purpose than for an academic purpose. That makes those distinctions clearer.
Also education will be provided as part of this bill in differentiating the Hakenkreuz from other religious and cultural swastikas. A community-led education campaign will be developed. It is important that we work with faith communities who use these symbols, because they are the ones who have raised these concerns and they are the ones who want to continue to appropriately use their cultural symbols.
This campaign will be developed to raise awareness in the Victorian community about the origins and significance of the religious and cultural swastika as an ancient and greatly auspicious symbol of the Buddhist, Hindu and Jain communities and other traditions and its distinction from the Hakenkreuz as a symbol of hate. This is intended to help prevent faith communities that display these symbols in public from being vilified. It may also include, for example, faith groups running intercultural and/or interfaith community development and education activities to raise awareness of the religious use of the symbol and the harm the Hakenkreuz can cause to Jewish communities. Again you can see the frame for the shaping of this education campaign to take place with those faith communities so that they can educate people in their faith communities and others around them about why it is important, about the sensitive use of the swastika more broadly and why it is important to those communities but also about why the Hakenkreuz needs to be banned.
Who will facilitate the education campaign, what will it look like and who will it be delivered to? The Victorian government has set aside $500 000 funding for a community-led education campaign. The education campaign will firstly aim to raise awareness in the Victorian community about the origins and the significance of the religious and cultural swastika as an ancient symbol in distinction to the Hakenkreuz. This will go towards educating people, raising awareness and helping prevent faith communities that display these symbols from being vilified, as I said earlier. The details of the campaign will be decided following further consultation with these communities, but one of the things that it could include—and this is just an example, and it may not be limited to this—is faith groups running intercultural, interfaith community development and education activities to raise awareness of the religious use of the symbol and the harm that the Hakenkreuz can cause to Jewish communities. So that is just an example of some of the things that interfaith communities might feel are relevant and appropriate for them to use.
There are lots of other things that I know others will want to talk to about this bill, but I might just finish my contribution in the final few minutes that I have by just focusing a bit on the consultation that the Victorian government undertook in regard to this particular bill, because I think that point has been raised as well. We have consulted with faith leaders from the Buddhist, Hindu, Jain and Jewish communities, Victoria Police and legal stakeholders, including the Law Institute of Victoria, Victoria Legal Aid, the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission and the Victorian Multicultural Commission. Other impacted stakeholders also include Aboriginal communities and the peak body in the creative sector. Targeted consultation with 150 stakeholders occurred between September 2021 and February 2022, with stakeholder feedback being received through written responses to a discussion paper, and there were consultation meetings as well. The Department of Justice and Community Safety held seven in-depth consultation meetings on this bill from November 2021 to March 2022 with the core consultative group, which was comprised of the Buddhist Council of Victoria, the Hindu Council of Australia, Melbourne Shwetambar Jain Sangh and the Jewish Community Council of Victoria. Apologies if I mangled that pronunciation; I hope I did not too bad a job. The meetings focused on explaining and seeking feedback on the key aspects of the offence, and this led to numerous changes to address the issues raised by those communities.
So I just want to say a really big thankyou to those communities for working with the government and taking the time to explain the nuances and particularities around the use of these symbols, because it is obviously very important that we make these distinctions clear. And that is something, as I said, that I think the preamble in this bill does. It goes a long way towards making those distinctions clearer. Of course there needs to be an education campaign and we need to continually educate Victorians as they come through the school system. Our littlest Victorians, as they grow, need to understand the historical context of the use of both of these symbols—the Hakenkreuz and other swastikas—and why the swastika is appropriately used by other cultures and its importance but also why we need to take this step in banning the Hakenkreuz. I will leave my contribution there and commend this bill to the house.
Mr MEDDICK (Western Victoria) (14:28): At the outset I just want to take up something that Ms Terpstra said there about free speech, and she is right: free speech does come with responsibilities. But there is something else about free speech or the loss of free speech. It is not a free kick with a 50-metre penalty. It is not a licence to go out and say whatever you like. It is not. It is not a licence to be able to go out into the community and say hurtful, hateful, disgusting, vile things and think you can get away with it. That is why this bill is so important.
I wish I could say that it gives me pleasure to speak on this bill. I wish we did not have to be here doing so and that the circumstances that gave rise to it did not exist, but they do. Truth be told, this bill today is not just about a symbol but about an ideology that took an ancient and respected religious symbol, perverted it, warped it and desecrated it so deeply that the world has come to see it almost exclusively as a symbol of a regime of such deep-seated hatred, murder, rape, genocide and acts so vile that it is hard to believe the human species could be capable of them. That is why the banning of the swastika, the Hakenkreuz, the German Nazi swastika, is so important.
This Parliament is currently in the midst of an inquiry into the far right, many of whom align themselves with the ideologies that rally around this symbol. We should all be worried about the rise of the far right. Every single member of society that abhors racism, homophobia, transphobia, victimisation of minority groups and open violence and hatred should be worried. It is equally important that we remain vigilant to deviations of this symbol that are used as rallying flags for Neo-Nazis and white supremacists, because that is how they are getting around it. We need to remain vigilant to them.
We also need to remain vigilant in how these symbols are used surreptitiously out in our communities. I bring the case in point of one of my communities, Geelong, where recently stickers were found on poles. This speaks to that ideology. One of those stickers had the Nazi swastika on it with some links to white supremacist sites, but it was used in tandem with another one that said: ‘Multiculturalism Spreading Disease With The Greatest Of Ease!’, with a fly on it. These two stickers were used in tandem in public places in the centre of Geelong. This is what we are up against. This is what we are fighting—these ideologies. Every member of this Parliament, whether they are from the government, the opposition or the crossbench, should support this bill, because the rise of these groups and their use of Nazi symbolism as the rallying banner are wedded together.
Less than a decade ago we saw open marches and rallies of these Neo-Nazis in the streets of Melbourne—these white supremacist groups. They marched down the city streets flying the Nazi flag, wearing the armbands and shouting slogans of hatred. We saw it on the St Kilda foreshore. Since then they have slowly grown, hiding away this time, recruiting. They infiltrated and in some instances led, whether those who participated knew it or not, the groups of people who rallied over the COVID-19 pandemic. Their leadership has been exposed, in screenshots shared amongst some groups, on their involvement. Some were from prominent white supremacist groups based overseas. They also have plastered their stickers on public property all over this city, in particular in the Bourke Street Mall.
We saw footage in an ABC exposé of them hiking on training exercises through Gariwerd, in my electorate, on Australia Day, aligning their belief in a fascist nationalist agenda with the day that marks the colonial takeover of this country. They were chanting and singing Nazi songs, raising their arms in the Nazi salute and shouting, ‘Heil Hitler’. And if that does not chill you, consider this: in an act that sent shivers down our spines they then burnt a cross, raising the spectre of the Ku Klux Klan. Imagine the fear that would have run through the hearts of all people of colour upon seeing that.
During the events in Melbourne these Neo-Nazis and white supremacists were there. They were identified. For those who want to say, ‘Well, what about the extreme left?’, it was not the left carrying Trump flags and chanting for violence. It was not the left who carried the hangman’s noose and called for members of Parliament to be dragged out of here to dangle on the end of a rope. It was not the left who drove a working gallows to the steps of this building and conducted a mock hanging of the Premier. It was not a member of the left that a prominent double-vaccinated and now thankfully ousted federal politician employed as a bodyguard whilst he screamed out against getting vaccinated. He employed a prominent member of Neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups. The Nazi symbol is the Holy Grail of the antisemite and the anti-Islamist alike—of the ultranationalist.
Those of us who have studied politics and various parties and movements throughout the years know that here in Australia and Victoria it is associated with and proudly flown by fascist and violent groups who have set up here, such as the National Socialist Network, whose membership had its beginnings in the Lads Society and the United Patriots Front. The English Defence League, Golden Dawn and Blood & Honour from the UK and Europe have posted stickers and flyers here. From the US, Volksfront, the White Aryan Resistance, the better known Proud Boys and more recently, frighteningly here now as well, the Base—they are all here. I do not dispute that many people who attended those rallies are not aligned with those groups—I do not. But if you march beside them, that is the standard that you accept.
My father served in World War II. He was a paracommando in the British Army, always dropped behind the lines, placing him and his mates in some of the most ghastly theatres of operations that could be imagined. He lied about his age to go and fight, as many did, such was their commitment against what they saw as pure evil. He saw, in all their horrific detail, the inside of concentration camps. What he saw haunted him for life, and he always warned that the far right would rise again and that they would resurrect that flag as their symbol—that that would be what drew them together.
Many things in politics are not cut and dried. In fact most are somewhat grey and open to discussion, a melding of ideologies. At times here in this chamber we can come together for the common good; we have proven that. This bill is not a grey area. I have seen, as many others have, leaders of parties make statements that object to these groups we see and their actions and always add that one word, that single-syllable disclaimer, ‘but’. Well, on this issue there is no but. The line is clear: you either condemn it or you do not; no qualifiers—no ifs, no buts, no maybes. All of us here should support this bill, and I appeal to the best parts of us all to cast aside partisanship and do what all who are watching know is the right thing. The line is clear: you either condemn it or you do not; no qualifiers—no ifs, no buts, no maybes. I support this bill wholeheartedly, and I urge you all to do the same.
Mr RICH-PHILLIPS (South Eastern Metropolitan) (14:38): I rise to make a few remarks on the Summary Offences Amendment (Nazi Symbol Prohibition) Bill 2022. We have heard many passionate contributions in this house this afternoon around this legislation, which seeks to prohibit the display of essentially the Nazi swastika. As we have heard through the course of the debate, this is complex insofar as that symbol is used by a number of other religious and cultural identities, and it has been important in the course of this debate to highlight that the focus of this legislation is on the use of the swastika as a Nazi symbol. We are reminded through the debate of what that symbol in the Nazi context means and what that symbolised 85 years ago through the Nazi period in Europe and the atrocities that were committed in Europe in the name of the Nazi party and under the Nazi symbol and why that is a cause for such concern and why the potential rise of political activity under that symbol is a concern in modern society.
That is the reason for which this bill has been brought to the Parliament this year, and it is interesting to note that this is approximately 80 years on from the time when Nazism was defeated in Europe. We have existed as a society for that period without needing this legislation, and it is important to ask the question: what circumstances now exist in our community that suggest the need for this legislation? What has occurred over the course of recent periods, recent years and recent generations that has led to this once again becoming a concern, when 80 years on from the defeat of Nazism we have been able to exist without needing to address these symbols? What has changed in our community and what has changed in our society to again make these symbols an issue?
One of the challenges with legislation such as this, and indeed we saw it on the day the bill was released, is that the very act of highlighting the Nazi swastika through this legislation led to it being used in a very outrageous way and being spread through the community—through the Caulfield community—in a way which was designed to create concern, which was designed to raise ire and designed to highlight and draw attention to that symbol and what it stands for. It was a perverse reaction to this legislation, but it was a reaction nonetheless. The act of this Parliament considering this legislation actually led to the swastika being spread around the community. That is obviously a perverse outcome, but it is one that the Parliament needs to be very mindful of in addressing legislation such as this. It can have perverse outcomes in encouraging people who are aligned to that philosophy and who are aligned to that symbol to actually use legislation such as this to highlight and legitimise themselves in a way which of course the Parliament does not intend. So it is a very careful judgement for the Parliament to put in place legislation like this, where it actually highlights a symbol and has the potential to encourage people to rally around it. That is obviously not the intent, and it would be a very unfortunate and perverse outcome.
I note in that regard that when legislation such as this was considered in Israel and started in Israel, ultimately the Israeli Parliament and the Israeli government did not take that legislation to conclusion out of concern that it could in fact become a rallying point for people who want to use the Nazi swastika as an ideological symbol, in the way which we are not wanting to occur here in Victoria.
One of the important considerations with this legislation is the need for exemptions. Other speakers have talked about the way in which the swastika is used in different communities, is used in different religions and has been used historically for thousands of years before it was hijacked by the Nazis, and obviously the intent for this legislation is not to impede that traditional cultural use of the swastika.
One of the other issues which arises with this legislation, and a matter on which I would seek some clarification from the Attorney-General, either in summing up or in committee, is the way in which this legislation would apply in respect to historical re-enactment, particularly around World War II vehicles, German vehicles, World War II aircraft et cetera, a number of which exist in Australia and do carry authentic markings, which include in some instances swastikas. Presumably it is not the intention for that to be captured in this legislation, but I think it would be helpful if the Attorney-General could clarify that in her summing up.
It is an interesting piece of legislation. It is unusual for the Parliament to consider legislation seeking to ban symbols. Obviously there is a compelling reason to do so with the appropriation of this symbol as a symbol for vile political views and vile political acts, but it is one the Parliament needs to be careful with so we do not create the perverse circumstance of actually encouraging and promoting this symbol by virtue of it being highlighted here in Parliament today. So this is important legislation. We do need to tread carefully with how it is implemented to ensure it does not have perverse outcomes and that the true intent of highlighting that that ideology is abhorrent in Victoria in 2022 is carried forward.
Ms TAYLOR (Southern Metropolitan) (14:45): We are proud to deliver this bill, which will make Victoria the first Australian state or territory to ban the public display of the Nazi symbol, and we recognise the role of Nazi symbols in inciting antisemitism and hate, in particular reflecting on those who went through the Holocaust and the lifelong suffering that can and often does prevail as a result of having gone through what was a horrific part of human history but also the incredible resilience to surmount the appalling conditions and just incredibly depraved acts that were committed during that period. Part of, I would like to think, the debate that we even have today is about reinforcing that such heinous acts must never ever happen again. So not only do we have, obviously, a very significant reform to pass here, we are also I would like to think finding a very potent and important pathway to share with community and on the journey with our community, because I believe our community as a whole wants this reform, to ensure that such heinous acts do not ever happen again. So by taking the opportunity in the chamber today, all of those who are contributing can help to reinforce a much more positive future in Victoria and our country.
I have to ask, having heard some of the commentary from Mr Finn, which I did find perplexing at best: does one really want to incite antisemitism and hate? Does anyone really need to do that? I put it to everyone here: no, they do not. Is there ever an occasion where that is helpful, where it is constructive, where it actually takes society forward? I would say no; I would say never. It is not needed. On the contrary, it can only undermine and depreciate who we are as human beings if we ever feel that there is such an occasion when we need to display these kinds of horrific behaviours. So it is very much paramount and I think there is a strong imperative, which has been largely the discussion in the chamber today, to bring this very important reform through.
We note that the Hakenkreuz, the Nazi swastika, will be prohibited, or a symbol that very closely resembles it. There are caveats of course, and these caveats have been discussed to some extent in the chamber. These include for genuine religious or cultural use, in particular to capture the swastika used by Buddhist, Hindu and Jain communities, as well as for academic, educational, artistic or scientific purposes; when publishing a report in opposition to fascism or Nazism; for law enforcement; and in the administration of justice. I note that those caveats were very carefully consulted upon, and I have full confidence in those who contributed to the development of this bill to ensure that it is delivered with appropriate sensitivity in terms of the impact it will have in weeks and years to come.
Furthermore, once in effect, anyone who intentionally displays the Nazi symbol in public faces penalties of up to almost $22 000, 12 months imprisonment or both. I would argue that they are significant penalties and they are appropriate penalties, and they send a strong signal in terms of what we deem to be behaviour that is completely inappropriate and not part of the contemporary society that we have today in Victoria and hopefully Australia-wide as well.
So with this, and I note that there has been some discussion about the best way to implement the key elements of the bill, Victoria Police will need to provide guidance and training to its members on the offence and update systems. We also need to develop a community education campaign on the origins of the religious and cultural swastika, its importance to Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and other faith communities and its distinction from the Hakenkreuz, which is obviously a critical aspect of this reform, and we note the various sensitivities that are associated with that.
A further issue that I did want to explore, which I note has been touched upon in the chamber, is that there may be further, dare I say, hate symbols that may be under consideration for inclusion, such as the SS Schutzstaffel symbol, at a later stage, and this approach aligns with the anti-vilification inquiry’s recommendations. I am raising this point because one might say, ‘Well, why is only the Hakenkreuz prohibited?’. The Hakenkreuz is the most widely recognised symbol historically associated with Nazi ideology and has been the most common symbol used in recent high-profile displays in Victoria. A ban on the public display of the symbol is therefore a sensible starting point, but it does not preclude further advancement in terms of considering other additional symbols such as the SS symbol at a later stage.
I think we can see that it is well reflected in the way that this bill has been drafted that there has been considerable consultation, as there very well should be, on how this bill should be implemented—so faith leaders from the Buddhist, Hindu, Jain and Jewish communities, Victoria Police, legal stakeholders, including the Law Institute of Victoria and Victoria Legal Aid, the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, the Victorian Multicultural Commission and other impacted stakeholders, such as Aboriginal communities and the peak body in the creative sector, noting that the display of symbols associated with Nazi and Neo-Nazi ideology of course is harmful and offensive to all members of society and particularly to Jewish community. Nazi symbols are also used to communicate hatred and cause harm to a wide range of other groups, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, LGBTIQA+ people, people with a disability and other racial and religious groups.
This brings me to a further point that I wish to raise on the nature of this debate today, and that is, ‘Hurt one, hurt all’. You know, racist behaviour in all its forms—when you hurt one person, we all feel it; it is a dagger to all of our hearts. I cannot speak for every Victorian, but I would largely say that for the overwhelming majority of Victorians, when we see a fellow Victorian being harmed through vile acts or displays of things such as the Nazi symbols, we suffer with them, as we should, because as human beings with compassion and understanding and care and respect for our fellow Victorians we do not want to see fellow Victorians suffering. Why would we want to do that? That does not enhance our happiness and our sense of purpose, and it is simply and fundamentally a matter of respect—respecting each other and respecting ourselves.
It is also about sending a strong signal—and I do not want to underestimate the importance of that signal—to current and future generations of what it truly means to be a tolerant, and not just a tolerant but a truly supportive, community that understands the impact of words and of visual displays which can trigger horrific memories, horrific moments in history that should never, ever be repeated. I would hope at a minimum today—and as I say I am very proud that we are bringing this reform through, that Victoria is the first Australian state or territory to ban the public display of the Nazi symbol—that we truly are enhancing our community as a whole, and we are sending a strong signal, not only against antisemitism and hate in that context but against racism per se, because I do not believe this is the community that we would like to be, in the sense that we want to be a community that is truly loving and accepting of all Victorians—and all human beings if I go broader on that concept. I say with a warm heart that I commend this bill to the chamber.
Dr RATNAM (Northern Metropolitan) (14:56): I rise today to speak on the Summary Offences Amendment (Nazi Symbol Prohibition) Bill 2022, a bill which I and the Greens absolutely welcome and support. This bill bans the public display of the hateful Nazi symbol, the Hakenkreuz, when displayed with the knowledge that it is a symbol of Nazi ideology. The bill does, importantly, permit the continued use of the swastika by people of Buddhist, Hindu, Jain and other faiths. This symbol was only co-opted by Hitler’s Third Reich last century but has for thousands of years before been a positive symbol of faith. It is important that practitioners of these faiths can continue to use it.
There are exemptions for the good-faith display of the Nazi symbol for artists, academics, law enforcement and others, including for the display of this symbol in opposition to fascism, Neo-Nazis and Nazis. One of the other key exemptions in this bill is that the Nazi symbol may be used for education purposes. It is vital that we learn from the past and that students and everyone in Victoria understand the events and impacts of the Holocaust. Antisemitism has no place in Victoria. The Jewish community are no doubt deeply impacted and affected by the malicious use of the Nazi symbol in Victoria. We have seen many recent occurrences where the symbol has been used to target their community.
The Legal and Social Issues Committee has just begun its hearings for its inquiry into extremism in Victoria, which I am very pleased to be able to chair. In the hearings last week, we heard of the streets of Caulfield being stickered with this hateful symbol on the very day that this bill was announced. Members of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria and the Executive Council of Australian Jewry spoke of the ongoing impact that antisemitism has on their community and the need for laws like this one to go further.
It is a hefty burden that the Jewish community have to carry to ensure that their members are safe and can learn, pray and congregate in peace. The Jewish community must always be security conscious. They must fund guards for their schools and places of worship, and they must install CCTV. They must limit the symbols and signage on their places of worship, and they must organise and fundraise to undertake all this work. This burden is unacceptable, and this bill is an important first step in addressing antisemitism and racism more broadly in Victoria. Unfortunately the stickering in Caulfield cannot be dismissed as an isolated incident. Within the Jewish community there have been a number of other events where the Nazi symbol has been used to threaten and intimidate. There are people here in Victoria displaying this symbol on flags, on clothing, graffitiing signs and buildings. We have seen Neo-Nazis blatantly parading around the Grampians. It is chilling.
The Nazi symbol is also used to direct intolerance towards other groups within our community. Bigots have used it as a cover-all hate symbol to vilify migrants and asylum seekers, Muslims and people of other faiths, the LGBTIQ community, First Nations people and multicultural communities. We had the disgraceful situation where someone flew the Nazi symbol on a flag on private property and there was nothing that could be done. This symbol has no place in Victoria, and we must strengthen our laws and our resolve to tackle the actual and implied hate of this symbol and the far-right movement more broadly.
We know that far-right extremism is on the rise here in Victoria. Over the past two years the pandemic has been a fertile recruitment ground and vessel for the expansion of far-right groups in Victoria. COVID denialists and anti-vaxxers have rubbed shoulders with the ultranationalists and white supremacists at protests. I acknowledge that most people that attended these pandemic protests were not holding extreme far-right views and did have legitimate concerns, but make no mistake: there was an emboldened and extreme element in these protests, and they were out to recruit and profit from the disenfranchised.
While we all welcome this important bill as an important step in denouncing extremism, we know that this has to be one step of many more to come. The far right do not organise just around symbols but around ideas. Globally we have seen members of the far right organising around a range of hateful ideas, emboldened and platformed by politicians and elements of the media, particularly in the US and in Europe, and touting deeply troubling and dangerous ideas. They are racist, sexist, misogynist, homophobic, transphobic and bigoted in so many ways and put people at risk.
The white supremacist ‘great replacement’ theory, which suggests that white people are being marginalised and replaced by people of colour, is one such preposterous idea. It has gained momentum overseas and has now made its way to Australia and to Victoria. It is our job as a Parliament and as members of society to call out these appalling narratives, to stand with minority communities and to prevent these ideas from coming into our Parliament and our community. That is why the Greens helped establish the current parliamentary inquiry into extremism. We must investigate and understand its reach and work to eliminate it and create a truly anti-racist and anti-fascist state.
Through the hearings it has been troubling to hear about the radicalisation of young people by extremist groups and to learn of the ways that recruitment and indoctrination occur by targeting already marginalised people and manipulating their vulnerability to desensitise and then normalise extreme and bigoted views. We heard that far-right extremists seek out and exploit the fractures in our community—like rising levels of social isolation, distrust and suspicion of institutions like government and the media, and of course growing economic insecurity. We heard that measures such as a proscription of symbols are important but should be considered as part of a range of other actions if we are serious about addressing the problem at its root causes.
To do so, as a Parliament and a community, we need to listen to First Nations people and reckon with our colonial past. All Victorians need to bear witness and listen to the truths coming out of the historic Yoorrook Justice Commission. As a Parliament we also need to confront our own role in the historical injustices committed against First Nations people and our continued complicity in supporting the structures and system that still harm our First Peoples. We need to acknowledge that racism and bigotry exist in Victoria today. We need to stare them down and actively work to dismantle the structure of white supremacy that seeks to undermine the strength and safety of our community.
There is still much work to be done. I welcome the minister’s commitment in the second-reading speech that this legislation will be part of a broader package of anti-vilification reforms in Victoria. We have a collective responsibility to fight extreme and hateful ideas and actions at every turn—with this bill and beyond.
Ms WATT (Northern Metropolitan) (15:03): I am proud to speak today on the Summary Offences Amendment (Nazi Symbol Prohibition) Bill 2022. This is a bill that first and foremost makes one thing very clear: every Victorian has the right to be free from racism, from vilification and from hatred. Nazi symbols are symbols of hate, plain and simple. The harm caused by hate conduct and vilification can be profound, affecting the physical and psychological wellbeing of individuals and indeed whole communities and often preventing them from feeling comfortable participating in their community or social and civic lives.
I have found this one an especially hard bill to consider and think about some remarks on. I cannot help but reflect on my experiences of racism, hatred and oppression in our community. Look, I have stories that truly could go on for days—stories that have littered my childhood, stories of hate, oppression and hardship. But every time, and I mean this truly, I thought that life had dealt me a tough blow—and thanks to those before that talked about the connection between this hate symbol and Australia’s First Peoples; I am not immune from having this symbol attached to hate speech towards me and the work that I have done—I was grounded by the survival and resilience of Kathy Reisman.
Now, I do not often get up here to talk about others, but those that know me best and those that love me the most in the whole world know of my deep love and affection for Kathy Reisman. You see, Kathy, God rest her soul, is the grandmother and mother of my other family, the family that I chose—or rather that chose me. You cannot grow up in Carnegie, Caulfield or Oakleigh without being surrounded by beautiful migrant stories of starting life in Australia, and for me growing up there was no greater story, no greater hardship and no greater overcoming of the odds than that of Kathy and her family. Kathy faced the hardships of the Second World War and survived, and in that survival is a book. It turns out it was worthy of a book, a book that was published in our community, and you can probably find it in the Carnegie Library if you are indeed interested. But that story, published for the world to know, is a story of immense and profound hardship, the story of being the only one in her family to survive, the story of her walk up in Auschwitz to the almost-end of her life—and then somebody that she calls her angel pulled her out.
From having Kathy in my life I learned a lot about the Jewish story and I learned a lot about Jewish family, Jewish hardship, Jewish customs and Jewish survival. I learned a little bit about Jewish schools and Jewish synagogues and a lot about the Jewish faith. I learned about so very, very much that I could not even do it justice in the 10 minutes that I have left, but what rests with me all these years later is that Kathy sat me down many times and talked to me about hate and about just how much hardship she had to overcome to find Australia home. And yet upon coming here she did not find the utopia that we talk about it being, she actually found some immense racism, oppression, hatred and harm caused to her and her family.
So every time I see one of these hate symbols around our city I am reminded of the stories that Kathy shared with me all those many years ago. I am reminded of how very much it hurt and harmed her family and her, members of the Jewish community and also members of the community that just do not want to be surrounded by symbols of hate. So to Kathy, thank you for grounding my education and the work that I do in leading both the work of the inquiry that Dr Ratnam spoke about but also the work of the Anti-Racism Taskforce that I now proudly co-chair.
I also need to thank some others as I stand here today to talk more about Nazi hate—my gosh. It would be remiss of me to not mention Rabbi Szmerling and the Szmerling family. Thank you for opening your heart and home to me but also telling me the stories of your survival and how much you have overcome. Thank you, Rabbi Gabi Kaltmann, a member of the Ark Centre and also a fierce, fierce advocate for this work. Thank you for all that you do and also to members of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria and other community organisations that really fought for so very, very long so that we could be here today. Those organisations are protected behind big fences, big cameras, big security guards and other safety measures that they need to have in order to feel some measure of safety in their organisations as they gather as a community. That is a really tough thing to see. As somebody who was gone through the security gates of a shul too many times to count, this is a hardship on our Jewish community that they should not have to endure. Too often people take the signs off that have been graffitied overnight before morning prayers. We have seen an increase in the public display of Nazi symbols in our community. There is simply no doubting it. We have seen the use of the Hakenkreuz by those on the fringes of our community who are trying to stand and convey messages of hate and messages of intimidation, but they simply will not stop the pride with which our Jewish community gather, honour and respect their own struggle and resilience.
I was thinking not only of the stories that I have heard from 30 years ago but of more recent stories, and really the federal election did kick up a couple of examples. It happens just about every time. It was sometimes difficult to go for a walk and not see a corflute or a sign defaced. Sure, some of these are really harmless in our community. We have seen moustaches—big mos—eye patches, speech bubbles and other crazy things, but far too often you could see racist and far-right hate messages scrawled along them, including this hate symbol drawn over a sign. Most of the time it was on signs of candidates that are people of colour—people I know, people I care about—and also candidates from the Jewish community, who are also people I know and people I care about. It happened on all sides of politics—Liberal, Labor, Greens, independents—right across our state, and I am sure it was not just within these borders. This is not really a genuine public discourse; it is an attempt to vilify and intimidate those running for public office. As a person of colour who is running for public office, I can tell you it does sit with you.
There are plenty of other examples that come to mind. As has been mentioned, there was of course a Hakenkreuz flown on a private property in regional Victoria, there was graffiti on the Cranbourne Golf Club, which was indeed founded by members of the Jewish community, and a person was wearing a hat—how distasteful—at Richmond train station. In fact during the pandemic debate I personally called up the City of Melbourne a great number of times to make sure that there were a great number of these symbols removed—extraordinarily, right here in our parliamentary precinct—so can I just take a moment to thank the City of Melbourne. I do not know what that unit is called. I am just going to call it the hate response unit, because they came out very quickly and made sure that those were taken down very, very quickly. I thank them for taking my calls and acting on them so quickly.
The display of symbols associated with Nazi and Neo-Nazi ideology is harmful and offensive to all members of our society, particularly to the Jewish community. They are used to communicate hatred and cause harm to other groups as well. Like I said, members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community have been subject to this symbol many, many times in many, many different ways for many, many years. LGBTIQA+ people, people with a disability and people from other religious and racial groups have also been subject to this hate symbol. We know that Victoria and indeed Victorian people are better than this. This type of harm and vilification is completely unacceptable in our state.
There is no way that I can accept a Victoria that is anything other than proudly democratic, diverse, multicultural and multifaith, and that is why this bill is being introduced. It fulfils a commitment to implement the recommendation from the Legal and Social Issues Committee inquiry into anti-vilification protections in Victoria to ban the public display of these symbols of hate. It also forms part of the government’s broader commitment to introduce a suite of reforms to strengthen anti-vilification protections in Victoria. Can I just say the discussions of the Anti-Racism Taskforce meeting have been so very supportive of this, as have the communities of colour that I talk to time and time again about how very meaningfully this has been adopted. It is so very much supported by members of the communities of colour right across our state.
This bill will create an offence in the Summary Offences Act 1966 which will prohibit a person from intentionally displaying a Nazi symbol in a public place if that person knows or reasonably ought to know that a Nazi symbol is a symbol associated with Nazi ideology. The Hakenkreuz, the Nazi swastika—that is a new one for me; I did not know it to be known like that, but there you go—will be prohibited, or a symbol that very closely resembles it. Once the legislation is in effect, anyone who intentionally displays this symbol in public faces penalties of up to almost $22 000 or 12 months imprisonment or both.
This work came about because of deep and profound consultation with our community, communities of faith, Victoria Police and legal stakeholders, including the Law Institute of Victoria and Victoria Legal Aid. I know also that Aboriginal communities and Aboriginal stakeholders were very deeply engaged, and I know how very grateful and thankful they are for the very genuine outreach that was done on this to Aboriginal communities. There is also the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission and the Victorian Multicultural Commission. From 2021 up until the end of February 2022 feedback was received through written responses, there was a discussion paper and there were also consultation meetings. The Department of Justice and Community Safety held seven in-depth consultation meetings with a consultative group—or a core consultative group, as I think it is known—from November through to March. Representatives from many, many different organisations were there, so thank you to those that spent so long being so meaningfully involved in this. They explained the changes and sought feedback, making sure that all communities had a chance to have a say.
The Hindu Council of Australia has publicly supported the introduction of the bill, noting that it allows for ongoing use of the religious swastika and community education about the very important difference between that and the Hakenkreuz. Under this bill there are protections for the religious and cultural use of the swastika. There is so much more to say, but in many cultures in fact the swastika is an ancient and auspicious symbol of purity, love, peace and good fortune. It is widespread in its use in many, many communities. It is of course to be distinguished from the appropriated and distorted version of the symbol used by the Nazis. So it is really important that that change is noted. Thank you to all the community groups for being so heartfelt in their consultation that brought us here today.
Mr BOURMAN (Eastern Victoria) (15:18): My contribution is going to be a little fragmented. There are a few things I want to get through. I am not a fan of fascists in any way, shape or form, and I find that fascists come in so-called left and right. At some point in time being a fascist is what you do, not what you believe in. This bill I wholeheartedly support. Whilst I am a fan of free speech, I have got to say that at some point in time, when someone is flying a flag in their backyard that they know is not just offensive—I mean, everyone gets offended fairly easily these days—but is displaying their hatred and will not take it down, they are the people that brought this on. They are the people that are going to hurt—in some cases, there are some legitimate collectors—but because they are fascists and because they support fascists, that is their problem.
I have got to say that the first time I saw an Auschwitz tattoo—I knew about them, I had read about them and I had seen pictures of them—on an actual person, I will not say it freaked me out but the connection between actual hatred and an actual person was there. That was in the East St Kilda area a few years back, and I was stunned. I still am stunned at man’s inhumanity to man and what we can do to each other for various beliefs. Little did I know I would have a much closer connection to the Holocaust than I ever thought.
For those that are undecided and not sure about whether freedom of speech trumps these symbols, let us have a think about what that represents. The Holocaust started—or it ended up—as the final solution. What was that final solution? That was killing every man, woman and child that was Jewish. Now, that was their only sin, being in a religion—or a culture, even; you did not even have to be an observant Jew. All you had to be was Jewish—or homosexual or a Gypsy or just someone they did not like—and they would just murder you out of hand. Watching some of the things that the Nazis did to disabled people before they got into this wholesale slaughter of people for their cultural beliefs is just stunning. It is stunning that it can happen, and it is stunning that anyone in this day and age thinks that it is something that they should not howl down at the first opportunity.
Now, my connection to the Jewish community came in 1997 when I met my wife. My wife’s surname was Garfield, which sounds fairly innocuous, but her dad, who had passed away, was Jerzy Garfinkiel, and my wife’s mum’s maiden name was Sima Symkiewicz. They were both born in Poland. Sima was born in 1943. How on earth she survived I will never know—how her mother survived it, her father—but of the 13 family members in Poland from my wife’s family that were there in 1939, five survived. And what was their sin? They were Jewish. We need to take a stand. I am all for freedom of speech, but I do not see this as a freedom of speech issue. What I do like is that this is a collection of things against vilification, and I do hope that it does not just end up being a so-called far-right crusade—trying to get rid of them. We need to stamp out hate; it does not matter where it comes from.
There are legitimate reasons to have—not display in a public sense—swastikas. When you buy a military rifle that was issued during the period they have what is called a Waffenamt, which is an acceptance stamp and which is a tiny, tiny little eagle and a swastika. Most of the time you cannot see it. There are genuine collectors of memorabilia around them, but that does not give you the right to fly a flag from your house, pretending you are one of them. That does not give you the right to wear armbands in public.
The people that really think that this thing is a bad thing, again, I think need to go back and have a look at what the final solution was. They killed babies. They would have wanted to kill my mother-in-law, my wife and my daughter for being nothing more than Jewish, and for that I will not stand.
Mr DAVIS (Southern Metropolitan—Leader of the Opposition) (15:24): I rise to support the Summary Offences Amendment (Nazi Symbol Prohibition) Bill 2022. This is a bill that has had a long genesis, and I want to pay tribute to two people in particular, Ed O’Donohue and David Southwick, for the work they both did on this bill over a lengthy period. They first, in February 2020, announced a Liberal-Nationals government would amend the law to ban the display of Nazis swastikas and symbols which are intended to incite hate in Victoria. Following that, the Legal and Social Issues Committee reported on the need to take some steps here, and at recommendation 24 it did recommend establishing a criminal offence. Later the state government came to the same position, and we welcome that this has moved to a bipartisan position and support that set of decisions.
It is interesting: framing these sorts of offences is fraught. We all understand the evil of Nazism and the evil of right-wing ideologies that lead to so much hate and so much vilification, and the historic resonance of them is extraordinary. So I want to place on record the opposition’s strong view that this will have a positive effect into the future, but it does recognise the horrible past that is there as well. I note the difficulty and challenge—and I think that the bill in its drafting has dealt with this—of reflecting the fact that there are legitimate symbols that appear in the same category but are not the same as a Nazi symbol, and I think the statement at clause 3, which inserts a new division 4C and new section 41I, is worth reading, because it actually eloquently does deal with these particular challenges. It says:
In enacting this Division, the Parliament recognises the continued importance of the swastika as an ancient and auspicious symbol of purity, love, peace and good fortune in Buddhist, Hindu, Jain and other religions. The swastika has had immense significance to these faiths for millennia, long before it was misappropriated by the Nazi party and Third Reich in Germany. The misuse of the swastika is an affront and cause of deep regret to people of the Buddhist, Hindu and Jain religions. The swastika continues to be embraced by members of these religions and can be found in places of worship, architecture and religious books, as well as in commercial and personal settings such as people’s homes.
The distorted version of the symbol is also known as the Hakenkreuz (meaning twisted or hooked cross in German). The Hakenkreuz became a symbol of the Third Reich, under which heinous crimes were perpetrated against humanity, particularly the Jewish people. The Hakenkreuz is a symbol of antisemitism and hatred and of an ideology fundamentally incompatible with Victoria’s multicultural, multiethnic and democratic society.
I think that that statement in very many respects summarises the position: we respect those traditional uses of the symbol but recognise that this has been misused by a very nasty, heinous regime and ideology. It is a very worthy and important step that is being taken to outlaw the misuse of these symbols in this way, to outlaw the use of symbols in the context of advancing Nazi ideology or related matters. I think it is a good day that the Parliament has come to a position of broad support for this step, and I think it is a good day that we have recognised that we can balance those points and balance the legitimate history and cultural significance of the symbol, recognising the terrible misuse.
It is important to recognise that since the Second World War and the lead-up to the Second World War—that terrible period that was faced particularly by the Jewish community—the world has I think remembered, but we cannot be too careful in maintaining vigilance. We cannot be too careful in maintaining a very weather eye on many of these issues. I do believe that there is a place for keeping that close watch—and this is in one sense what this bill is about—on those nasty, heinous ideologies.
I do also note that there are some terrible ideologies on the left of politics. I note that there are some on the left of politics in this state who have an antisemitic view, and I certainly condemn those views. The BDS movement has been a very unwelcome development internationally but also a very unwelcome development in Victoria. I should place on record—and I have done this in formal communication—that the Legal and Social Issues Committee of this chamber of Parliament has a self-reference dealing with right-wing ideologies. We support the general thrust of that but believe the inquiry is unbalanced, and I have written to the inquiry and made my views very well known that it should be also considering forms of extremism on both sides of politics.
Some left-wing extremism has been manifested quite recently at the University of Melbourne, and I do not think anyone in this chamber would support some of the comments and decisions that were made at the University of Melbourne that have subsequently been rescinded at the student-body level. I think that the decisions of those who would advance the BDS agenda—the boycott, divestment and sanctions agenda—ought to equally be subject to the scrutiny of the Legal and Social Issues Committee. I make clear to the chamber my entreaties to that committee in formal communications for it to broaden its self-reference to make sure that those left-wing ideologies do not escape attention. It is wrong for them to escape attention. I must say I find it incomprehensible that people of goodwill would not want to ensure that those left-wing ideologies are just as much a part of the purview of that committee as the right-wing extremism which it seeks to monitor and examine.
I do also think that in an international context it has become clear that there is a left-wing agenda which has at its core an antisemitic focus, and I think it is not only reprehensible but regrettable that that is where things appear to be heading. I think in that context we need to be quite thoughtful and vigilant here in Victoria. We have a fine Jewish community in Victoria who contribute enormously to the strength of our state, to its cultural strength and its deep understanding of the networks around the world, and I think the contribution of so many Jewish people to the arts, to education and to the broad activities of business is something to be admired.
I was at the Mount Scopus foundation dinner recently and was honoured to be at that recognition of not just the Jewish community’s contribution to that school but really in a broader sense the great strength of the Jewish community in Victoria, its wonderful integration with Victoria’s society in such a positive way and the enormous philanthropy that is behind the work of that foundation. I see that that is something to be greatly celebrated—the decisions of the Jewish community to build an institution of that strength, as they have done in so many other areas of philanthropy, whether it be our hospital sector or our arts sector. I was at the National Gallery of Victoria the other day, and a number of Jewish community people spoke to me about the contribution they were making to the expansion of the national gallery. I want to put on record my enormous affection for the Jewish community in Victoria and my recognition of its great, and I might say disproportionate in the positive sense, contribution to our state. I think that when we look we can see that the generosity and the strength of the community is evident to all.
It is in that context that I am very happy to support this bill wholeheartedly. Again, I want to pay tribute particularly to David Southwick for the work that he has done, a leadership role that he has taken in this context, and I hope that this bill in that broad spread across the Parliament actually sends a very useful signal that actually it has machinery behind it and an ability for enforcement. But I think also these matters are about sending a signal and the symbolism of the position of leaders in our Parliament. On one side I am sad that we need such a bill, of course, but on the other I see that many people have come together in a constructive and positive way to address some of these challenges.
Mr QUILTY (Northern Victoria) (15:37): The Liberal Democrats will be opposing this bill today. Sometimes making a decision on what our position should be is difficult and we are torn, but this bill is not one of those occasions. This is a simple issue of freedom of speech, and the libertarian position is very clear. Freedom of speech does not exist to protect the voice of those that we agree with. It does not exist so that we have the right to hear things that we like. If rights do not protect everybody, even the ugliest amongst us, in the end they protect nobody. They are not rights.
The Liberal Democrats are the natural enemies of Nazis. We hate coercion and racism, and we believe in equality before the law. This is the basic philosophy behind libertarianism, and it should be what your mother taught you as well. The Nazis were evil. They were evil because they killed millions of people, evil for their race-based ideology, evil for believing that individuals have no value except to serve the state and could be sacrificed freely to achieve the state’s ends. They were evil for what they did and for how they thought, evil because they did not think twice about using the power of the state to remove the agency of individuals. They suspended democracy and removed alternative voices from Parliament. They enabled their worst excesses by using emergency powers. They divided people by race and religion.
We shudder to think how Nazis would behave in the modern day. I imagine they would have no respect for privacy. They would have no problem with allowing police to take your DNA or record your medical details without your consent. They would perform surveillance on people through social media and by using drones. They would allow police and others the power to break into our homes. They would ignore the right to peaceful protest and allow police to use weapons against them. They would expel alternative voices from the Parliament. Nazis would care very little about freedom of religion, freedom of movement or any other human rights. They would allow police to arrest people gathered at churches and synagogues. They would keep their reasoning for any decisions they made secret because they would know these reasons would not stand up to scrutiny. And they would probably have some sort of bureaucracy to rubberstamp their human rights abuses.
A hallmark of authoritarian governments is that they like to control free speech. In North Korea, for example, people have been executed for distributing South Korean pop music. Authoritarians cannot bear to hear alternative voices. They wrongly believe that by controlling what you read or see they can control your thoughts. The Nazis were no different. We remember them for burning books and setting up numerous state bureaucracies to control all forms of expression. If somebody wrote or said something they disagreed with, the police would smash their doors down, enter their homes and arrest them. The Nazis never did care much for human rights. In fact human rights in their current form did not exist until the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights was established. An interesting fact is that the person who oversaw this process was a Labor man, Doc Evatt, president of the General Assembly of the United Nations, back in the day when Australia’s major parties cared about human rights. These days the major parties only apply human rights when it suits their quest for power.
For a very small group of people, adopting extremist ideology is just a way to get attention. This bill is their dream come true. At last these nobodies can become victims—a status that they crave. Somebody will pay attention to them. It is hard to say how many actual Nazis there are in Australia, but for the handful of these people, currently living in the basements of their mothers’ houses, the passing of this legislation must be one of the best days since the 1940s. It means they are suddenly getting attention. It means they have a chance to feel important. No doubt the dark web is abuzz with debate about adopting new symbols—the Buddhist symbol or any other symbols—and for some reason the government has generously granted them six months to think about their rebranding exercise. For the truly committed Neo-Nazi it means that, if they want to, they have a chance to get media attention, to raise money, to get followers or even to become political prisoners. Let us note that in Australia, unlike the US, we do not currently have much of a white supremacist problem in our prisons. If we arrest and imprison these people, we risk creating a prison culture of white supremacist gangs. Turning our prisons into white supremacist recruiting grounds will make things much worse than they are now.
It is no coincidence there is no law against swastikas in all the freest and happiest countries in the world. It is especially worth noting that even in Israel there is no law against displaying the swastika. Israelis take the view that if idiots want to identify themselves, then so be it. Extremists in Israel and free countries around the world are moderated by public opinion. That is how free speech works. Let me emphasise that point: I would prefer that these idiots, who purport to support these evil ideologies publicly, publicly labelled themselves in this way. They have a giant label stuck upon themselves telling the rest of us to exercise our freedom of association and thrust them away. We do not need the government to tell us the Nazis are bad; we know ourselves, and we are free to exclude them. The Victorian government is getting itself into a battle of wits with drivelling idiots. Sadly, this is a battle it looks certain to lose.
This bill is the thin edge of the wedge. It is not just one evil symbol we propose to ban today; we create the template for banning all symbols that offend whoever rules over us. The door will be wide open to ban the symbols of the other kinds of socialists. I imagine the hammer and sickle could be banned by a future government—communism is an authoritarian ideology every bit as evil as Nazism and has a body count far in excess of it—or perhaps the flag of China, flying as it does atop a mountain of human skulls. One day we might have a government that is willing to call out China for their murder of opposition voices and their ongoing genocides. And why wouldn’t a future government decide to ban images of the notorious racist and homophobe Che Guevara?
There will inevitably be unintended consequences for protesters or others who use Nazi symbols to express their disgust towards a politician. If a conservative government should ever be re-elected, what will happen next? Will left-leaning protesters be arrested for suggesting a Liberal leader is a Nazi? In Russia today protesters are doubling and crossing the ‘Z’ symbol—it has come to represent the Russian invasion of Ukraine—to create a swastika. Should this be banned in Victoria? God forbid we insult Putin or his murderous, bloody destruction of the Ukrainian state.
The Liberal Democrats believe free speech is fundamental to a democratic society and governments should stay out of it. Allowing people into people’s houses to combat Nazis is like deporting people to the Gulag to stop communism. We do not need to ban swastikas to make it illegal to spray swastika graffiti. It is already illegal to do graffiti. Apart from anything else, the Victorian government should be ashamed to be doing this now while the emergency pandemic powers are still in place and human rights are still suspended in the state. Piling up symbols that you do not like and burning them in the public square is not the way to fight authoritarianism. If the swastika is the ultimate symbol of badness, banning it becomes the ultimate virtue signal. But like many other virtue signals, you do not make the world better, you make it worse.
The Liberal Democrats oppose this bill because if you do not stand for speech you disagree with, you do not stand for free speech at all. We believe that the best way to show contempt for Nazis is first and foremost not to emulate them. The best way to oppose authoritarianism is to defend basic human rights like freedom of speech. This bill does nothing to fight any actual Nazi movements in Australia, such as they are. This bill is human rights astroturfing. It is an assault on free speech. The Liberal Democrats oppose this bill.
Dr KIEU (South Eastern Metropolitan) (15:45): With great pleasure and pride I rise to speak to and support the Summary Offences Amendment (Nazi Symbol Prohibition) Bill 2022. This bill is about the Nazi swastika symbol, but the swastika itself has been around for thousands of years as a religious symbol. It is a symbol for many religions, including Buddhism, Jain and Hinduism. It has been used as a symbol for divinity and spirituality, a symbol of purity, love, peace and prosperity. All of that changed in 1920, when the Nazi party adopted this symbol for their party and for their ideology. Since then it has become associated with them as a symbol of evil, of hatred. There is no recent ideology that is more evil and has committed more heinous crimes against humanity than that of the Nazis. They killed millions of Jewish people, who they shot at, buried alive and herded into gas chambers—and not only Jewish people but also the disabled and those they thought were not fit for their ideal society. I would like to take this opportunity briefly today—and this week is world Refugee Week—to recognise that as a result of the atrocities that happened, after the Second World War we were able to receive members of the Jewish community who came to this country and to take in Jewish refugees and all the refugees who have come to this country. We recognise their contribution to our country.
Now, back to the symbol. Let me be clear that this bill is not about a symbol, however evil it is. It is about an evil ideology that is not fit for and has no place in a modern, civilised and humane society. The symbol associated with Nazi and Neo-Nazi ideology is harmful and offensive to all members of our society. The symbol is used to communicate hatred and cause harm to many groups, including Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, LGBTIQ+ people, people with disabilities and other racial and religious groups. So it is not surprising that many countries in the world have banned the use of the Nazi symbol, including countries like Austria, France, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Ukraine, Brazil and Israel. They have banned the symbol and consider it a criminal offence to display it if it is not for educational purposes.
My colleagues mentioned several aspects and details of the bill. I do not have the time to repeat them here but only want to mention one thing—that since the bill was introduced and passed in the other chamber there have been many incidents that deeply concern us in the increase of public displays of Nazi symbols in the community. That is why we will have an earlier default commencement date—namely, six months after the royal assent of this bill turning it into an act.
I would just like to conclude by saying that our government is committed to protecting the rights of all Victorians to be free from racism, vilification and hatred and to ensuring that everyone feels welcome and accepted. Some of the arguments put up in this chamber are about freedom of speech. Freedom comes with responsibility, and the kind of freedom—particularly freedom of speech—that creates division, brings about hatred and radicalises young people is not the type of freedom we can tolerate. We know that the harm caused by hate conduct and vilification can be profound. It can affect the physical and also the psychological wellbeing of individuals and often prevent them from feeling comfortable participating in our community. In conclusion, I would like to thank all the stakeholders for their input into drafting and forming this bill. I commend the bill to the house.
Mr ATKINSON (Eastern Metropolitan) (15:51): I am pleased to join this debate and to support the legislation that is before us. This state of Victoria is an exemplar of multiculturalism. Arguably it is one of the best, if not the best, multicultural jurisdictions in the world. As my friend Tien Kieu and I both say at many functions, as indeed does my friend and colleague Craig Ondarchie, we do not simply tolerate differences of opinion, we celebrate them. We actually celebrate those communities that create the diversity here in Victoria which has provided a much-strengthened state, community and society and has actually underpinned advancement economically and in terms of security as well as prosperity because of the contribution of people from so many different backgrounds.
It is so unfortunate that this symbol, the swastika, has not been consigned to history—this infamous icon of one of the most treacherous regimes in history. Certainly it is almost incomprehensible that it could have occurred in the middle of the 20th century: the inhumanity of people to other people, the fact that a dictator could have such command, such control, and be virtually able to hypnotise an entire nation so that they turned their back on their conscience and their humanity and committed such atrocities on other people. Sadly a symbol that had been a symbol of faith, a symbol of peace, a symbol of tolerance and a symbol of compassion in the religious faiths of the Buddhists, Hindus and Jains was stolen by the Nazis and then in turn became such an infamous icon. As I said, it is unfortunate that it is not consigned to history.
But the problem is that that symbol today—outside its very proper, important and fair use by those faith communities—has been used as a spark to some people with very distorted views of life, of society and of our responsibilities as people to one another. It has been a spark to some extreme behaviour and extreme views, and unfortunately because of that, notwithstanding that I think everybody in this place has a very strong commitment to free speech, we recognise that this symbol really does need the distinction of having an act of Parliament that says that that use outside those faith communities, outside of some educational focus—an educational focus that we would all hope, that we would all expect, will ensure that never again do we go down the track of the Nazi regime, albeit all too sadly we see playing out yet again aggression in Ukraine from a communist regime. One of the things that I must agree with Mr Quilty on is the communists of Russia actually committed greater atrocities, killed more people and were responsible for even greater genocide than the Nazis.
This legislation is not pandering to the Jewish community. We all have high regard and respect for the Jewish community in this place, I believe. It is not pandering to them. It is about certainly recognising history and the importance of learning from history, but it is more important to say that these symbols of hatred cannot be tolerated in a free society, that in fact they erode the principles of multiculturalism which this state has been so committed to, that this state has celebrated and that this state has found so important to our success as a society, as an economy and as a community—a community of diverse views, of different faiths, of people from different geographies and of different languages but a community that is cohesive because of respect, one for another. This legislation is important as a plank underpinning that multiculturalism.
Ms SHING (Eastern Victoria) (15:58): I have listened very carefully to the contributions that have been made in the chamber today and which were also put onto the record in the other place, and there are a number of comments which I wish to make. I hope that I will be able to make them briefly, and I hope that I will be able to articulate the sentiment that sits underneath them.
I have over the years spent a considerable period of time in Germany. In fact I did my honours thesis on the topic of Nazi propaganda and had occasion to live and study in Berlin and also in Nuremberg. In the course of that study, as I lived in those cities, as I spoke German, as I lived as part of the everyday landscape of Germany, I would see from time to time symbols tucked under public structures, scrawled underneath benches and littered like small graffiti against the side of buildings. They were the Hakenkreuz, they were the Sonnenrad or they might have been the number 88 or the number 14. They might have been the Schutzstaffel. Whatever they were in this language of hatred, they served a purpose to communicate vitriol within a small but very vocal group of people for whom vilification is the common denominator.
That is where this bill is relevant and important. The Hakenkreuz itself is a lightning rod for vilification, for hate speech and for violence. I accept that where the Hakenkreuz is banned there will be other symbols that will become part of the nomenclature of hate groups and of white supremacist groups, and to that end I welcome the work that is being done on anti-vilification laws building on the findings of the inquiry in that regard.
I appreciate the reality of the world in which we live, whereby the removal of one symbol will invariably lead to the emergence of another. I do, however, think that when we consider the history, when we consider the 10 million lives taken under the Third Reich and when we consider the way in which this ubiquitous symbol, the Hakenkreuz, festooned everything from bibles given to newlyweds through to the currency which people exchanged after hyperinflation finished and Germans had a sense of faith in economics and fiscal stability returned, the propaganda of the symbol is enormous and can never afford to be ignored. We can never afford for responsible communities and societies to turn away from it. It is the height of ignorance to suggest that if we just ignore it, it will go away. It is, conversely, a responsibility which, as evidenced by the contributions here today, is being taken extremely seriously. A confinement of the doctrine of freedom of speech is something which is by necessity applied only in the rarest of circumstances, and in fact the prohibition of the Hakenkreuz for all but educational purposes is to make sure that nie wieder—never again—do we end up in a position whereby the ubiquity of this symbol conducts that level of vitriol, of hatred, of vilification and indeed of eradication that punctuates Germany’s history and the history of those occupied countries around it.
We cannot afford to be complacent. We cannot afford not to lean in to the difficult work of facing the reality of far-right activism and right-wing extremism. This bill is an important step in the right direction, and to that end I look forward, as I said earlier, to development of further progress on hate symbols such as the Sonnenrad, the Schutzstaffel, the numbers 14 and 18, the Totenkopf and the Reichsadler, amongst other things, to make sure that this library of language, this library of symbols, is not given any of the oxygen which some in our community would desperately want it to receive. On that basis, I commend the bill to the house.
Sitting suspended 4.03 pm until 4.19 pm.
Ms VAGHELA (Western Metropolitan) (16:19): I rise to speak in support of the Summary Offences Amendment (Nazi Symbol Prohibition) Bill 2022. The government moved an amendment in the Legislative Assembly to bring forward the commencement of the bill by six months, from 12 months, which will allow for sufficient education and awareness in the community. I am glad that we have bipartisan support for this legislation.
The main purpose of this bill is to amend the Summary Offences Act 1966 to make the public display of Nazi symbols an offence. The bill implements recommendation 24 of the 2021 Legal and Social Issues Committee inquiry into anti-vilification protections in Victoria to ban Nazi symbols in public. This bill plans to tighten anti-vilification protections in Victoria. This bill ensures all Victorians are free from racism, defamation and bigotry and feel welcome and accepted. Hate behaviour and vilification can injure someone physically and psychologically, prohibiting them from participating in their community. There is a concern about the rise in public Nazi symbolism. Recent displays have used the Nazi symbol, also known as the Hakenkreuz, to convey hate and intimidation, considering its association with Nazism. Nazi and Neo-Nazi symbols are repulsive to all segments of society, especially our Jewish population. Melbourne boasts the world’s biggest per capita population of Holocaust survivors outside of Israel.
Firstly, we must understand the difference between the Nazi symbol and the swastika. The symbol the Nazis used was not the swastika but the hooked cross, and the name that they used for it was Hakenkreuz. The warped Nazi symbol is Hakenkreuz, which means a twisted or hooked cross in the German language. Mr Fowles, the member for Burwood in the other place, very clearly emphasised that we need to get the nomenclature right and have a clear understanding of the word ‘Hakenkreuz’ and the word ‘swastika’. To avoid any confusion, I want to make a clear distinction here that I will use the word ‘Hakenkreuz’ for the Nazi symbol and the word ‘swastika’ only for the symbol that is sacred and is being used by the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain communities. Education about this distinction begins in the Parliament, starting with us, the MPs.
The Hakenkreuz, or the hooked cross, is a symbol of hatred, embodying painful and traumatic memories of the Third Reich, which committed horrible crimes against humanity, especially Jews. After the atrocities of the Holocaust the Hakenkreuz became a symbol of Nazism associated with genocide and hatred. The swastika is one of the most ancient symbols of purity and positiveness across the world. The Nazis used the distorted version to commit heinous crimes against humanity. The name ‘swastika’ originates from Sanskrit language roots. ‘Su’ means ‘good’ and ‘asti’ means ‘to predominate’, and it indicates welfare, health or good fortune. In Hindu philosophy it represents the four Yugas or cyclical seasons, the four ends or objectives of life, the four stages of existence and the four weathers.
The bill recognises the cultural and spiritual significance of the swastika and differentiates it from the Nazi Hakenkreuz. We see a significant difference between the Nazi symbolism for hatred, which will be banned, and a genuine religious symbol of peace—the swastika—which should be welcomed and celebrated. The government recognises the swastika’s cultural and religious significance for Hindu, Buddhist and Jain cultures. The Buddhist symbol, known as ‘manji’ in Japanese, represents the Buddha’s footsteps. To Jains it refers to a spiritual guide. In India it is a symbol of the sun deity, with a clockwise direction, and the auspicious symbol is drawn on thresholds and store doors as a message of welcome, as well as on cars.
Mr Ondarchie: On a point of order, Acting President, this is a very sensitive bill to many, many communities, and most of the speakers in this house have been afforded silence today. I ask that Ms Vaghela be afforded the same.
The ACTING PRESIDENT (Mr Bourman): Okay. Could everyone just keep it down so we can hear better, thanks.
Ms VAGHELA: Thank you. In India it is a symbol of the sun deity, with a clockwise direction, and the auspicious symbol is drawn on thresholds and store doors as a message of welcome as well as on cars, religious literature and letters. The swastika is displayed for weddings and other festive occasions, the decoration of a new home, the opening of account books at the beginning of the fiscal year and the commencement of a new endeavour. For centuries Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism have revered the swastika. The government says these religious and faith communities should continue using the swastika unfettered and it will not be a crime to do that.
The public display of the Nazi emblems harms and frightens Jews and other Third Reich victims. Swastikas and Hakenkreuz are visually similar and may appear identical, but the sacred swastika and the hated Hakenkreuz have very different meanings. The bill acknowledges these parallels but clarifies that Buddhist, Hindu and Jain use of the swastika should never be considered offensive. All the committee members and the community members involved in creating this bill have done a commendable job by clarifying the distinction between the swastika and the Hakenkreuz.
I am proud to be the first Indian MP in Victoria and the first Indian-born Hindu MP in Australia. Being the only Indian MP in Victoria and also being a Hindu MP, I was approached by the Hindu Council of Australia and many other key stakeholders from the Victorian Hindu community once the anti-vilification protections report was tabled in the Parliament. I am thankful to the Hindu Council of Australia, Melbourne Shwetambar Jain Sangh and all of our Hindu community organisations for giving their valuable time and working closely with me so that I could give them a better understanding of the bill to alleviate some of their earlier concerns regarding this bill. I worked with them to get their feedback and kept them updated with this bill and its context as it is applicable to Hindus and the swastika. The Victorian Hindu community endorses this bill to eliminate the vilification of Victoria’s Jewish population. Though some concerns exist that the violation may lead to the vilification of Hindu, Buddhist and Jain communities who continue to display the swastika lawfully, the bill itself acknowledges these concerns and the need to ensure the offence does not harm faith communities.
The bill introduces a criminal offence under the Summary Offences Act 1966 that forbids wilfully displaying a Nazi sign in public if the person knows or ought to reasonably know that the symbol is affiliated with Nazi philosophy. The offence in the bill was carefully written to safeguard these faith communities’ right to display the swastika. The bill prescribes a ban for the public display of the Nazi symbol—the Hakenkreuz, not the swastika. The Hakenkreuz is explicitly banned since it is the most commonly recognised Nazi and Neo-Nazi emblem and its display can cause harm and offence to our Jewish community and many other groups mentioned in the bill, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, LGBTIQ+ people, people with disabilities and other racial and religious communities.
The offence in the bill has two elements. Firstly, the offence has an intention element which requires that the person intentionally displayed a Nazi symbol in a public place or in public view. Secondly, the offence has a knowledge element, requiring that the person knows or ought to know the Nazi symbol is a symbol associated with Nazi ideology. Publicly displaying a Nazi symbol can result in a year in prison, a 120-unit fine or both. Unreasonable refusal to remove content is punishable by 10 penalty units. This penalty is commensurate with vilification offences under Victoria’s Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001.
The bill offers exceptions to the offences as per the committee report. The exceptions are based on the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 with certain adjustments to fit the offence. The bill includes two exceptions which are not currently contained in the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001. The cultural exception recognises that while the swastika has Hindu, Buddhist and Jain origins its application is often religious and cultural. The religious purpose exception defined in the bill is crucial for Hindus, Buddhists and Jains to continue displaying the swastika as a sign of purity, love, peace and good fortune. These exceptions represent stakeholder comments concerning various situations where the Hakenkreuz or swastika can be shown legally. Religion and culture are often inseparable. The bill includes a distinct cultural exception to guarantee faith and cultural communities can continue using the swastika with confidence. The bill offers instances of how the swastika is utilised by Hindu, Buddhist and Jain faiths to educate, train and raise awareness about the religious exception.
The bill will commence six months following royal assent. I do understand the intent of the amendment that Mr Davis was planning to bring today regarding this bill. I am advised today that Mr Davis has withdrawn his amendment that he was proposing to put forward, which was seeking to reduce the time frame from six months to two months after royal assent for this bill. There is a general consensus amongst the Victorian Hindu community that if this time was further reduced there would not be enough time to complete community education. Community education’s expected outreach is vast. Some of the major areas where this is required are for Victoria Police, protective services officers, schoolteachers, members of Parliament, councils, shopping centres, retailers, interfaith networks et cetera.
The responsibility for the community education about the sacred swastika lies with the Victorian government. It is recommended that the content of the community education should be in multiple languages. Considering the extent of the education, it is recommended to the Victorian government that it plan and speed up the process of education. The Victorian Hindu community would not have supported a further reduction of the time frame from the current six months for implementing this legislation to two months after royal assent. A six-month time frame after royal assent will give Victoria Police time to plan, develop and conduct a community education campaign on the history of the religious and cultural swastika, its value to Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and other religious communities and its distinctiveness to the Hakenkreuz.
In collaboration with the Victorian government and on behalf of the Victorian Hindu community, the Hindu Council of Australia propose to launch a swastika awareness and education campaign, an initiative meant to bring about awareness regarding the swastika, one of the most sacred symbols for Hindus, Buddhists and Jains around the world. Through this campaign, along with awareness and education, they hope to foster a mutual understanding of the swastika with other communities and prevent misunderstanding and misuse while imparting much-needed education on hatred and intolerance in today’s world. The Hindus recognise and acknowledge the transgenerational trauma of the 6 million Jews, 1.5 million Romani and others killed by Nazi persecution and the chilling, intimidating effect of Nazi-inspired hatred on Jewish Australians and others even today. Hindus believe in the fundamental concept of dharma and peaceful coexistence and have never tolerated hatred towards others. Hindus have provided shelters to persecuted communities, including Jews, Parsis, Christians, Buddhists and others due to their inherent aversion to hatred. It is imperative that we equip our children with proper knowledge about world cultures and religions so that they can develop mutual respect, and that must be the cornerstone of any multiracial, multiethnic and inclusive society. Victoria is a very big state with a complex structure of governance consisting of state, federal and local council authorities. A very large portion of the campaign energy will be utilised to bring awareness to and educate frontline workers, police, kindergarten educators and healthcare workers.
Another important pillar of the campaign should be to work with Victorian media organisations and educate and persuade them to adopt appropriate terminology while reporting. Small businesses and big corporate groups that employ a large number of Hindu, Jain and Buddhist Victorians also need to be targeted by education and awareness campaigns. A range of different methods and tools can be used individually or jointly by the Victorian government to reinforce each other and to raise awareness of the swastika—for example, producing educational resources, such as reports, studies and infographics; holding or participating in events, such as thematic discussions, round tables, seminars, webinars, workshops, conferences, debates, exhibitions and presentations; utilising radio, including community radio, as a powerful means to spread information and raise awareness; producing audiovisual material, such as television, video and documentary film; using the internet, including online forums, petitions, groups and interactive websites, as well as social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter; engaging the media through press releases, briefings, newspaper articles and opinion pieces; and conducting media campaigns. The arts, including art, satire, spoken word, music and theatre, can be a powerful vehicle to raise public awareness and consciousness. Such an extensive education campaign would not have been fulfilled in two months. The community is looking forward to all the help and support of the government of Victoria and the Victorian Multicultural Commission to achieve an inclusive and respectful place to live and work and get an education for Hindus, Jains and Buddhist Victorians.
The swastika has been around for thousands of years, and it is used by many cultures as a symbol of peace, wellbeing and auspiciousness. We hope that individuals and institutions will learn to differentiate between the swastika and the Hakenkreuz and that they will rightly denounce and condemn the Hakenkreuz and what it stands for. I commend the bill to the house.
Mr TARLAMIS (South Eastern Metropolitan) (16:38): I also rise to make a brief contribution on the Summary Offences Amendment (Nazi Symbol Prohibition) Bill 2022. I do not intend to speak at length, because there has been quite extensive coverage of the bill during the debate today, but I did want to put a few things on the record, including that it is disappointing that there is actually a need for a bill such as this in this day and age. But whilst that is the case, I want to take the opportunity to thank members who have made such eloquent and considered contributions on this bill both in this chamber today but also in the other place during the last sitting week, when the bill was debated there. Many members from all sides of politics have shared their deeply personal experiences as well as the experiences of others that have been shared with them by friends, family and those that they have come into contact with, either as members of Parliament or in other aspects of their life, on an issue that is of utmost importance and concern to so many in the community.
It is not often that we see this house and this Parliament take such a unified approach on a matter, but it is truly great to see. I commend everyone in this Parliament who has spoken on this matter in such an impassioned way. We are a better, a stronger and a richer community when our Parliament can show leadership and come together on issues such as this that affect the community and send a strong, unified message that there is no place in Victoria’s proudly inclusive community for this Nazi hate symbol. We have a duty as a government to the people and to the community to protect them from harm, whether it be via racism, homophobia, xenophobia, sexism or bigotry. We do not tolerate discrimination based on one’s identity in this state or in this country. As legislators and as the body that governs this state we are fortunate to have the power to protect members of our community from these harms and to prevent them from the residual effects of traumatic events.
The Holocaust was one of the most abhorrent breaches of human rights that the world has ever seen—the most unjust, cruel and discriminatory treatment by a regime in history—and an event that has affected the worldwide Jewish community to this day as well as all those that were persecuted by the Nazi regime. In the aftermath of such events the affected communities themselves are the ones who have the power to narrate their trauma. They get to decide how their story is told and how the world remembers the events of their suffering. When hateful antisemitic individuals and groups wield symbols such as the Nazi hate symbol, otherwise known as the Hakenkreuz, it is a violation, plain and simple, of the survivors’ and the communities’ rights to control their narrative. This Nazi hate symbol is a hateful symbol that was weaponised by the Nazi regime during the Second World War. Today it is a symbol that incites hatred and antisemitic views and is a symbol associated with Nazi ideology, which incites hate and division. Disappointingly and disgustingly, there are still some out there in the community that are choosing to spread such deeply, deeply troubling ideologies, and we must stand together to oppose these views—stand together against them. We have seen an alarming resurgence of the display of this symbol, which is, sadly, why this bill is necessary. There have been any number of examples cited during the debate, both today and in previous weeks, of where this symbol has been used in recent times. This bill puts forward the necessary protections and regulations to stop and penalise the displaying of this Nazi hate symbol.
I will not go into the full details of the bill because they have already been outlined in some detail by previous speakers, but we recognise that the swastika itself, not the Hakenkreuz, is used in other contexts that deviate from Nazi ideology. Before it was weaponised during the Nazi regime the swastika held—and still does hold—significance to the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain communities, and Ms Vaghela went into a lot of detail as to the significance of the swastika to those communities. It is a symbol that has been used for thousands of years to signify peace, love, divinity, the sun, good luck and many other things. To ensure that we were not obscuring or infringing upon the religious expression of these communities we conducted significant stakeholder consultation with religious leaders from these groups, and the result of such consultation is the bill that you see before us today. That has ensured that the swastika, which holds significance for these communities, is not included in what has been prohibited. The swastika displayed for genuine religious and cultural use will not be subject to the penalties in this bill or legal punishment. This is really important because for these communities this symbol is a cause for celebration, and we want to ensure that these communities are still able to celebrate the significance of the swastika in line with their particular religious beliefs and practices. The display of the swastika will also be allowed for educational, academic, artistic and scientific purposes. There will be an extensive education campaign run around the differences between the Hakenkreuz and the swastika as well, so people are aware of what the differences are.
Ultimately this bill helps us to codify the messaging that we, the Victorian people, will not stand idly by any antisemitic discriminatory behaviour and that our vision for Victoria has always been one that celebrates, fosters and facilitates multiculturalism, where we appreciate and respect one another’s different cultures and religious beliefs. We have worked hard and will continue to work hard to foster a positive multicultural experience in Victoria, and this bill furthers that.
The summary offences bill is very important. It will protect not only religious groups but the whole community and holds special meaning to many, many people who have been impacted by the hatred that has been spread by the misappropriation of this symbol. I can only hope that by passing this bill we are able to provide some sort of reprieve for the communities that have been affected in any way by recent antisemitic displays of the Nazi hate symbol. I would like to extend my heartfelt apologies to the individuals and communities who have been affected by recent displays of this hateful symbol around Melbourne.
We are the first state in Australia to pass this law. I know that other states are looking at doing something similar, and we are proud to be taking action to deter further antisemitic behaviour into the future. We will continue to work hard to foster a positive multicultural, multifaith experience in our state, and this bill is further proof of that.
I would like to take this opportunity to recognise the extensive work of the Legal and Social Issues Committee, which led the inquiry to anti-vilification protections in Victoria. I would also like to thank all of the religious, legal and community groups and organisations which were consulted extensively in the development of this bill and who helped shape it. This is a significant bill and a necessary and critical step in protecting human rights in Victoria, and I commend the bill to the house.
Dr CUMMING (Western Metropolitan) (16:47): I also rise today to speak to the Summary Offences Amendment (Nazi Symbol Prohibition) Bill 2022. I have in this place before told many people that my mother is German and I have German heritage. And my German heritage is this: my grandfather during the Second World War noticed that a lot of people in the Jewish community were disappearing. He raised awareness, and he was then taken away for actually questioning why the Jewish people in his community were being taken away. He was taken to the Russian front, and my family were sent a notice that he had gone missing on the Russian front, which meant that my mother and her brother and sister were brought up by my grandmother as a single parent. They were young. And for me, ever since I have been here in Australia my mother has explained the difficulty of the German community being generalised as being Nazis.
Just by saying that you are German there has always been a stigma, a generalisation of that, and for me, I have felt it. Every time I have run for council, every time I have run for state, I have had nothing but swastikas put on my posters. I have had little Hitler moustaches put on my posters, and even in the last three years on more than one occasion I have had that same vandalism on my electorate office in Seddon, in Footscray. I am not Jewish—my heritage is German—but, no matter what, you get that generalisation that because of your heritage people feel they can actually do that. So for me, I have actually found it quite difficult in the last two years to hear this government and others when they have spoken during the pandemic about protesters. It has been really easy for this government to name and generalise the whole protest movement, saying that there have been a whole heap of right-wing, Neo-Nazi extremists. And there have been one or two occasions in this place when I have heard it thrown across the room at me and at others.
It has been on the other side as well. I have heard this government. You just have to go through Hansard to see the amount of times that the words ‘Nazi’ or ‘Neo-Nazi’ have been brought up by the government or others in the last two years. There was someone in the lower house—I could name who it was—that virtually said, ‘I am sick and tired of being compared to Nazi Germany. I am sick of this government’s approach to the pandemic being compared to Nazi Germany. I am very sick and tired of it. I am very sick and tired of the comparisons’. I was also sick and tired of the comparisons that this government made with the protesters, calling them Neo-Nazis. I have heard it time and time again, even during the contributions today. Show me the proof. That is what I would like to see.
I have seen the odd picture of Daniel Andrews where somebody has put him in an Adolf Hitler outfit and made him look like that, and I have heard the comparisons between Daniel Andrews’s and Adolf Hitler’s style of governing, being that there were times when Adolf Hitler, during the Second World War, made the community turn on the radio every night and actually listen to propaganda. I get that some people in the community felt that Daniel Andrews’s daily Dans could have been attributed as not dissimilar. Sometimes Daniel Andrews’s very heavy propaganda made them feel that that was not dissimilar to Adolf Hitler’s. I get it. I have heard those comparisons.
The ACTING PRESIDENT (Mr Bourman): Order! Dr Cumming, you are kind of straying off here. We know your thoughts on the Premier, but can you keep to the bill. I think you have made your point.
Dr CUMMING: Yes, that is fine. I feel like I am still on track. There were comparisons made, and I feel that the government at times made the direct comparisons back.
The ACTING PRESIDENT (Mr Bourman): Dr Cumming, I appreciate what you are saying. You made that comparison, but you are just straying off into other stuff, so can you just get back to it.
Dr CUMMING: Even though we are here talking about symbols today, I have heard so much talk about Neo-Nazis—not just the symbols but actually about Neo-Nazism—so I do not feel that I am straying off any track at the moment. I am describing the comparison that was made during the last two years of this pandemic. The government are hurt at feeling that they were being compared to Nazi Germany. But I also heard that from Daniel Andrews’s own mouth. I will quote Daniel Andrews for you.
Mr Melhem: He is the Premier of Victoria.
Dr CUMMING: He is the Premier of Victoria, Mr Daniel Andrews, and—
Mr Melhem: On a point of order, Acting President, I think it is tradition in this house that when members want to refer to other members they refer to them by their title, and I ask you to ask Dr Cumming to refer to the Premier as ‘Premier Andrews’.
Mr Ondarchie: On the point of order, Acting President, I hear what the honourable member says, but I will remind him that he, alongside his colleagues, often refers to the ‘Andrews Labor government’. If we are going to refer to the Premier by his right title, maybe they could cease doing that as well.
The ACTING PRESIDENT (Mr Bourman): If possible, I think it is convention that people say in this case ‘the Premier’ or ‘Mr Andrews’ or whatever. But bear in mind my previous ruling, unless this is to do with Nazi symbolism or something.
Dr CUMMING: Thank you, Acting President. I love interjections. I always seem to poke the bears in this place. I will call him Mr Andrews, but on the top of my search it says ‘Daniel Andrews, ALP’, so there we go. I will just quote Mr Andrews, or our Premier, and he has said:
… just imagine if over the last two years we had a pandemic response crafted by someone beholden to extremists, beholden to anti-vaxxers, beholden to Nazis and Neo-Nazis …
It is in Hansard.
The ACTING PRESIDENT (Mr Bourman): That is okay, Dr Cumming. Keep on going. I have not stopped you yet.
Dr CUMMING: Great. I am just waiting to be stopped, but these are Mr Andrews’s, our Premier’s, words. He has said this. So it is not only that I have had to sit here for the last two years and listen to anyone who actually spoke about the pandemic response being called far right or a Nazi or a Neo-Nazi; I have got the Premier’s words here. Then there is another, and this is from the government as well. It says:
What our health professionals do not deserve is their elected officials standing out there pandering to anti-vaxxers and Nazis …
This is the government. So I guess with this bill I wish there was a section not just about the symbols and banning symbols but actually banning the government and fining the government when they are talking about and whipping up Neo-Nazi and Nazi hate and are able to just generalise. When it serves their purpose they are able to throw that around the room at others. When they wish to, they are allowed to call people from the far right Nazis. They are allowed to call them Neo-Nazis. Sure enough, they are not coming in with a symbol or a flag, but they are able to say it, so where is their fine? I want them fined when they are actually generalising and being disparaging to the community when they use these words.
I will also bring to your attention others in the lower house that actually get offended, just like me in this place, when they are called a Nazi just because of their heritage, like me with my heritage. Here is one. It is David Southwick. He says:
The Minister for Health is referring to Neo-Nazis. I take offence when you talk about Neo-Nazis …
… and someone starts referring to me and others as Neo-Nazis. I take offence at that by the Minister …
This was on 1 December 2021. Throughout the pandemic bill there are numerous references to Neo-Nazis and Nazis. It is 17 November, if you want to look it up, kids. But within this place last year I do not know how many times it was thrown around this room. Sure enough it was not a flag. Sure enough you were not wearing a T-shirt—because of course the government would like to avoid their fine when they are throwing it around the room. But it would be great if there was a section in this bill that talked about members of Parliament when they are throwing around this kind of hate or getting their workers to go around and put swastikas on people’s corflutes. It would be great to educate your own parties in not going down that kind of path during an election, because I have had it numerous times, and others here have just watched it during the federal election.
Ms Symes: On a point of order, Acting President, in relation to relevance, I would also take issue with unfounded accusations against members of the government from the member during her contribution.
The ACTING PRESIDENT (Mr Bourman): Dr Cumming, I am giving you a lot of leeway. Can we move back to the swastika issue rather than the wider Neo-Nazi issue.
Dr CUMMING: Okay. Thank you, Acting President. I understand why the Attorney-General would actually take offence at Mr Andrews and what he has said in the lower house or the health minister—
The ACTING PRESIDENT (Mr Bourman): Order! Dr Cumming, there is no need to continue down that line. You are starting to reflect on my ruling.
Dr CUMMING: No problem, Acting President. We do not talk enough here in this place about far-left fascism or far-left racism or far-left extremism or about removing some of their symbols around communism and the like. We do not talk about it enough. We have a committee set up to talk about the far right, but where is the far left? Why isn’t there that kind of fairness? How about—
Ms Symes: When was the last time they wanted to gas someone?
Dr CUMMING: Pardon me?
Ms Symes: When was the last time someone from the left wanted to gas someone?
Dr CUMMING: Did you say ‘gas someone’? The Attorney just said, ‘When has someone from the far left tried to gas someone?’. I would like a point of order on the Attorney.
The ACTING PRESIDENT (Mr Bourman): Order! Dr Cumming, first of all, the bill is very narrow. This is about the banning of the swastika. There is a lot of leeway to be given about religious things and even to a degree Neo-Nazi stuff and even to a very small degree about far-left extremism as well, but in the interests of staying relevant, can you just move on and keep your contribution limited to what we are actually here to discuss.
Dr CUMMING: I request that the Attorney withdraw her interjection of ‘When was the last time the far left gassed someone?’. I am requesting that interjection be removed.
The ACTING PRESIDENT (Mr Bourman): Dr Cumming, there is no way I can force the Attorney-General to do that, because it does not actually fit any of the points of order on which I can ask for a retraction. You may not be happy with it, but I cannot make the Attorney-General retract it.
Dr CUMMING: Let the record show that the Attorney said, ‘When was the last time someone from the far left gassed someone?’. That is the government—the Leader of the Government in the upper house.
Dr CUMMING: Another interjection, Attorney? There you go. I would love for the government to be able to be fined for when they are throwing around their own hate speech, because we are here just talking about symbols today, because it is an easy get, but when we are actually talking around hate speech there are no fines involved. But this is an example. I have stood here and spoken about my own German heritage and some of the horrendous stuff that I have had against me, and I get to hear these kinds of interactions.
I guess this goes some of the way to actually stopping some of the hate that I have watched my whole life. I hope it goes some of the way to help the Jewish community, which feels a certain amount of hurt when these symbols are used, but also for the German community, who actually feel the same, same hurt when they are actually getting these symbols thrust and used against them. I think I will leave my contribution there.
Incorporated pursuant to order of Council of 7 September 2021:
I rise to make a contribution to this bill.
Earlier this parliamentary term, I introduced the Racial and Religious Tolerance Amendment Bill 2019—a bill to extend the application of the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 to vilification based on gender, disability or sexual orientation.
Vilification is public hate speech that threatens or incites hatred and violence against another person, or group of persons, based on who they are, not something they might have done. It is also behaviour that incites serious contempt, revulsion or severe ridicule.
Back in 2001 Victoria introduced laws to prevent vilification based on race and religion. My bill sought to extend those protections.
Ultimately, my bill was referred to a parliamentary inquiry.
That inquiry made favourable recommendations and received a positive government response, including that:
The government will carefully consider extending anti-vilification protections to additional groups of people, including all those groups protected from discrimination under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010.
I look forward to this reform and anticipate that it will flow in the next term of government. As Ms Shing outlined in her contribution, that work is progressing.
However, a very positive by-product of that inquiry was that the same committee also recommended prevention initiatives in the areas of school-based education, responsible media reporting, public awareness campaigns and the banning of the public display of Nazi symbolism.
It is that recommendation that we will see legislated today.
Other members of the house have already canvassed the atrocities of the Nazi regime, so I will not retrace those steps, other than to agree that the justification for this legislation is clear.
This bill introduces a new summary offence to prohibit the intentional public display of the Nazi symbol. It appropriately builds in protections to ensure that similar symbolism from the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain communities is not captured.
This is positive change for Victoria and I am glad that reason could play a part.
I commend the bill to the house.
Ms SYMES (Northern Victoria—Leader of the Government, Attorney-General, Minister for Emergency Services) (17:02): It is not the best way to end what have been really fantastic, thoughtful contributions in the debate from numerous members of Parliament across both chambers, but I would like to bring the positivity back to the importance of this bill and really reaffirm some comments that I made in relation to the announcement of this bill and the progression that we have made. You certainly have the privilege of doing some meaningful things in government and in this place, in the Parliament, and with this bill we are sending a clear, clear message of inclusiveness, tolerance and peace. We are also making history in Australia.
We are immensely proud of this landmark legislation to ban the public display of the Nazi hate symbol, the Hakenkreuz. We know that this is a symbol of antisemitism, hate and division. The message it sends is incredibly harmful and damaging to our whole community and in particular our Jewish community. This type of harm is completely unacceptable in a society that is proudly democratic, diverse, multicultural and multifaith.
We know that the swastika—a symbol of peace, love and acceptance—is an important symbol for members of the Buddhist, Hindu and Jain faith communities. It is a symbol commonly displayed in homes, temples and cars and on clothes—and Ms Vaghela went to this in her contribution with some experience. Thank you for your contribution, Ms Vaghela. The legislation makes clear that this symbol in particular will not be impacted. It is also supported by the fantastic preamble that is at the front of the bill. The bill, as we have heard, has specific exemptions for genuine religious or cultural use, and legislative examples, and that is important. We have a great opportunity to educate the community with this reform. The government will provide further support with a community education campaign to raise awareness of the origins of the religious and cultural swastika and its distinction from the Nazi symbol.
In terms of the details of the offence, it is pretty straightforward. It will create an offence within the Summary Offences Act 1966 which prohibits a person from intentionally displaying a Nazi symbol in a public space if the person knows or reasonably ought to know that the Nazi symbol is a symbol associated with Nazi ideology. Specifically, the Hakenkreuz will be prohibited, or a symbol that very, very closely resembles it. Other symbols are not included. The offence includes various exemptions, including cultural and religious ones as well as those for academic, artistic, scientific and educational purposes, or for publishing a report, opposition to fascism or Nazism and administration of justice or law enforcement. Exemptions are really important in this bill because we want to ensure that further generations are informed of and acknowledge the atrocities of the past.
I want to just take the opportunity to respond to a matter that Mr Gordon Rich-Phillips asked me to address. He was wanting confirmation that re-enactments of historical events could continue to be undertaken in relation to this and not attract the offence under the bill. So historical events, plays, theatre, movies et cetera would fall under the exceptions of artistic purposes or perhaps education, depending on the specific nature of the performance or re-enactment. I want to make clear that this is not a loophole to allow Neo-Nazis or others to get together and put on a play and say that this is why they can display Nazi flags and the like. The exemptions when they are relied on are subject to a reasonableness and good faith standard. They consider the person’s actual motive for engaging in the activity and whether the person engaging in it displays it with prudence, caution and diligence and took appropriate care to avoid harmful consequences.
The bill also of course will empower police to direct a person to remove a Nazi symbol from a private or public property. It will create an offence for not complying without reasonable excuse, and it will provide police search and seizure powers.
As a government we really want to do everything we can to stamp out hate and give it no room to grow. The Nazi hate symbol glorifies one of the most hateful ideologies in history. Its public display does nothing but cause further pain and division. Sadly, we have heard through contributions in the chambers, across both houses, that the use of this symbol has not been condemned to the history books. It is a practice that we know occurs, and we know that it continues to cause harm in appalling circumstances, particularly for our Jewish community.
I acknowledge calls from the Jewish community following incidents which occurred the day after this bill was introduced. I unfortunately was not surprised that that happened the day that we stood up and announced this legislation, and of course those calls of concern were about wanting to make sure that these laws came into effect as soon as possible. In response we have moved an amendment to include an earlier default commencement, of six months after royal assent. Six months will enable Victoria Police to provide guidance and training on the offence to police members and make necessary updates to their internal IT systems to take account of this new offence. It will also enable government to commence the development of a community education campaign on the origins of the symbol, something that we promised the Buddhist, Hindu and Jain faith communities. Once the bill is passed, in regard to a point that Mr Ondarchie asked me to confirm, royal assent will be at the earliest opportunity, so it is likely in the next two weeks and therefore the six months clock will start then. That means that we will see this bill come into effect hopefully this year, I think, if my maths is correct.
Further to Mr Ondarchie’s contribution, he sought some more information in relation to the education campaign. As I have said, it is a fundamental aspect of this reform to educate our community about the origins of the religious and cultural swastika; its importance to the Buddhist, Hindu and Jain faith communities; and importantly, its distinction to the Hakenkreuz. Following close consultation with faith leaders from these communities, the government has committed to developing and implementing a community education campaign. It is intended to help prevent faith communities that display these symbols in public from being vilified. My department is working closely with the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing to roll out funding, and we hope we will be able to make further announcements really soon on some specific programs. It will be certainly led by those communities. The exact details of the campaign will therefore be subject to further consultation with those communities. It will likely involve grants to these communities to roll out activities that they think would be best for their communities, and we as a government are there to support their ideas and support their initiatives as they see fit. It may include the development and delivery of information resources that can be used to raise awareness of the religious use of the symbol or just specific education campaigns.
The development of the bill in itself has been an educational opportunity for me and for others. I felt very fortunate to visit temples and learn from faith and community leaders about their concerns, and certainly the six-month delay of the commencement is something that these communities have really appreciated as well as the commitment to making sure that they are not going to suffer any blowback from confusion that some people in communities have. But we are well on our way to this education being more broadly accepted or there being a broader awareness of these issues just by virtue of having the debate about this bill and making the announcement.
I do want to commend those who have advocated for this critical reform over a really long time, including Daniel Aghion of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, a thoroughly decent person who is here and has subjected himself to the entire debate today, and Dr Dvir Abramovich from the Anti-Defamation Commission, who also stood with me during the announcement. I want to thank him for his continued advocacy—this is a five-year campaign from Dr Abramovich. I think when I reflect on some of the words that have been said in the Parliament about just how much this reform means, if I can reflect on the announcement and some of the words from Dr Dvir Abramovich, it really hit home to me what this reform means. I was really proud to stand there, but I think when I read some of these words, there can be no doubt how important this is. He said:
For a Holocaust survivor, to see a Nazi swastika, graffitied or vandalised, it is as threatening as being faced with a gun. It tears a hole through their heart …
He also said:
This is a day for the history books, this is an uplifting and triumphant moment for every Victorian and it’s a thunderous blow to the solar plexus of the neo-Nazi movement here in Victoria who would love nothing more than to put people like myself in the gas chambers and who dream of an Australian Hitler and Fourth Reich …
This is a day in which we honour the six million Jews exterminated by the Nazis and the millions of others, it’s a day in which we honour the Holocaust survivors who made Victoria their home and pay tribute to the brave diggers who sacrificed their lives to defeat the Third Reich.
I found those some of the most compelling words I have ever heard. To say that I commend the advocates of this reform for standing up for the community and what is right is an understatement. I am so proud to be the vessel to introduce this legislation that brings about something that Dr Abramovich has been campaigning for for some time.
I did also want to quickly reflect on the work of the Legal and Social Issues Committee—a fantastic inquiry—and really thank them for their work and their bipartisan approach to suggesting that we do this and really setting the wheels in motion.
I want to thank all the stakeholders—Victoria Police, the Law Institute of Victoria, Victoria Legal Aid, the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, the Victorian Multicultural Commission, Aboriginal community representatives and peak bodies from the creative sector—but I particularly want to thank the core consultative group: the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, the Ark Centre, the Buddhist Council of Victoria, the Hindu Council of Australia and Melbourne Shwetambar Jain Sangh. Their guidance throughout this reform has been so valuable and has informed the balance that we struck, even when there was not agreement on everything of course. Not many bills have an educative preamble settled by a consultative group, and I think that is pretty special. It is a preamble that others have read out, so I will not repeat it, but I think it is fantastic and I think it is a fitting way to end an important debate. I would encourage people to revisit it at their leisure. I think I will revisit it again and again in future years. I commend this bill to the house.
House divided on motion:
|Atkinson, Mr||Hayes, Mr||Rich-Phillips, Mr|
|Bach, Dr||Kieu, Dr||Shing, Ms|
|Barton, Mr||Leane, Mr||Stitt, Ms|
|Bourman, Mr||Lovell, Ms||Symes, Ms|
|Burnett-Wake, Ms||Maxwell, Ms||Tarlamis, Mr|
|Crozier, Ms||Meddick, Mr||Taylor, Ms|
|Cumming, Dr||Melhem, Mr||Terpstra, Ms|
|Davis, Mr||Ondarchie, Mr||Tierney, Ms|
|Elasmar, Mr||Pulford, Ms||Vaghela, Ms|
|Erdogan, Mr||Ratnam, Dr||Watt, Ms|
Motion agreed to.
Read second time.
Clause 1 (17:22)
Mr BOURMAN: Attorney-General, I have only got a couple of questions, and I think Mr Rich-Phillips may have covered off a couple of them, anyway. Living history and re-enactment groups are not intended to be covered under this legislation, correct?
Ms SYMES: Correct, Mr Bourman. In relation to re-enactments of historical events—plays, theatre, movies et cetera—there is an exemption that applies. The exemption has a reasonableness layer to it so that people cannot say that they are doing a play to get around it. You have to have good intent. You have to demonstrate that by engaging in the display you have acted with prudence, caution and diligence and taken appropriate care to avoid harmful consequences. In relation to some of the reflections of my summing up in terms of educative and artistic purposes, we have appropriate balances in place to make sure that people can still be informed about this part of history, because that is important, but as long as it is done in a way that has a good intention, a good purpose, and is not designed to cause offence.
Mr BOURMAN: Thank you, Attorney-General. That covers off all of that. There are also other times. When people are trading in memorabilia they also do so at gun shows and arms and military fairs, whatever they want to call them. Now, technically they are public places, because as a member of the public you can go into there. I just want to ensure that a display there will not be captured by this legislation.
Ms SYMES: Mr Bourman, I know that early on when we were discussing this bill you came to me and showed me pictures of weapons with little symbols and things on them, and that was very informative for us in relation to making sure that we crafted out the appropriate exemptions as to not capture every symbol that exists. This is designed to avoid causing offence to people. It only applies in public places, but it will apply to shops, markets et cetera that sell memorabilia. The onus will be on the seller, the vendor, to appropriately not display Nazi hate symbols. So if the Hakenkreuz is on a weapon, for example, it will have to be covered. They are tiny, I know—and you have shown me this—so a little sticker over them would be fine. For anybody who purchases that for a private collection or if that exists in a museum, for example, it could be displayed appropriately. But for the purposes of sale, for the purposes of a public shop or a pop-up market, for example, of a memorabilia-type thing, care has to be taken to ensure that there is no public display of the Nazi hate symbol in that environment.
Mr BOURMAN: Thank you, Attorney-General. Getting down to the Waffenamt in particular, Attorney-General, I just want to unpack that a little bit. It is actually completely impractical to try and put on stickers. When I showed you the pictures of them, they were blown up to the point where you could actually see what they were, but in real life some of them are like 3 or 4 millimetres and they are tiny. I just want to say that with stuff like that, I think it is improbable to be done properly. There are also people who collect Nazi daggers and in some cases, say, captured flags. In some instances when an arms fair is held it is possible to see in from certain parts. It has been a while since we have had one, but I just want to make sure that people are doing the right thing in the circumstances and that we do not have someone wander past and suddenly decide they are offended when it is not actually anything except someone trying to sell something. I am trying to get that explanation, I think, into Hansard.
Ms SYMES: Mr Bourman, the purpose of the legislation is to ban the public display of the Nazi hate symbol that we know causes offence. It will extend to private properties and businesses where it is on public display, so flying a flag at someone’s house will be covered because it will be public display. In relation to memorabilia and the trade, there is no prohibition on trade per se. Where it is a visible symbol, it needs to be appropriately covered for the purposes of public display, as I said, by any means, just so that it is not on public display. If somebody wanted a private inspection, that could be arranged as long as it was not in the view of the public. It is incumbent upon people that are engaged in this trade to ensure that they are not engaging in a behaviour that would be an obvious public display. Steps need to be taken to cover what is visible. I take your point. If you need a microscope to see it, then there is obviously no requirement to cover up something you cannot see, unless you are looking at it through a magnifying glass.
This is a contentious area. There are people that are concerned about the continued sale of memorabilia, but we have listened to stakeholders such as you in relation to this reform, and that is why the exemption is carved out in a way that has not at this point in time banned any of the sale of that. But it is something that we want to keep an eye on. As long as it is not causing harm, obviously we do not really have an issue with it, but it is something that has been thought through based on the examples that you have provided. I think the people that you have told me about, the people that are into historic artefacts and stuff, are not collecting this material to cause offence or cause harm. Their interest is in history and education and collections and things. We are not intending to catch those people up with this offence.
Mr BOURMAN: Thank you, Attorney-General. I know I am labouring a point, Attorney-General, and I thank you. It is just that I think when it comes down to the point of what a public place is, even though when there is a military affair it is indoors, it is still technically a public place. That is why I am kind of labouring the point. If someone is trying to sell a certain item, and even if no-one can walk through—without having to actually go into the room—I just want to make sure that they are covered for displaying their items when it is clearly not to advance the ideology, it is just to sell an item. I do not know if you want to make a comment on that.
Ms SYMES: They are covered. It would be a public display. There is no exemption for a shop, regardless of how dark their windows are, for example. It is incumbent upon somebody that wishes to sell something, if it is on public display, to ensure that any Nazi hate symbols that are visible be covered for the purposes of the sale, unless they want to arrange a private viewing.
Mr BOURMAN: Thank you, Attorney-General. I am just going to mull over that one. I am going to actually get to a couple of comments, one that you just made and one that Mr Erdogan made earlier, that it is not included at this stage that there will be a ban on the sale in the future of these things. Is there anything I should know? Is this on the government’s radar?
Ms SYMES: I might just draw your attention to the second-reading speech, Mr Bourman, where we have certainly called out that it is a concern for some, that it is a sensitive topic and that:
The government acknowledges the harm which can be experienced through knowing Nazi memorabilia is being traded for profit, even where such items are not being publicly displayed. While the offence does not prohibit the public trade and sale of historical Nazi memorabilia, it will have some direct impact. In particular, for trade that does not fall within an exception—such as trade purely for commercial or personal reasons—traders will need to cover the Hakenkreuz or avoid trading altogether to avoid prosecution. This reflects the focus of the Bill on public display as the most significant harm.
Trade of Nazi memorabilia that is clearly educational or cultural in nature—such as the sale of an educational textbook on World War II which has a Hakenkreuz on the cover—will fall within the exceptions for display for a genuine educational or cultural purpose. The government will continue to consult with the Jewish community to monitor the impact of the offence on the trade of Nazi memorabilia, the impact of such trade more broadly and whether any further changes are required in the future, noting the difficulty posed in regulating online environments.
We just wanted to really call out that we know that for most of the stakeholders that you have identified—people that have a genuine historical interest and things like that—it is a genuine thing, but because it is not being covered by the bill, we just want to keep a close eye on it to make sure it is not used as an opportunity to continue to have any form of public display that causes offence. We just wanted to make sure that we acknowledged that. For some people it is quite confronting, the idea of memorabilia in this space, without a clear understanding of what we are talking about. I think it is good for the public debate to have this conversation to explain that when we are talking about memorabilia we are not talking about people that want to have a patch and then go out and walk around with it. There is a cohort of people that are interested in model aeroplanes and things that are direct depictions of a wartime event and the like. That is why we were trying to draw that out in the second-reading speech and have a conversation about making sure that those genuine practices can continue, but in no instance do we want any of those practices to be manipulated or used for an opportunity to cause offence.
Mr BOURMAN: Thank you, Attorney-General. It is actually funny you brought up the model aeroplane thing. The ban on tobacco advertising has actually affected model cars, where you cannot have—I do not know if we are even allowed to speak of it in this place—‘Marlboro’ of the Marlboro Holden Dealer Team written on the cars. This is going way off track, but I am assuming model aeroplanes are not going to be captured by this unless they have got a swastika that big on a plane. Will the regular model aeroplane be fairly safe from this, even if it is on public display?
Ms SYMES: Again, Mr Bourman, if it is on public display, there would be a requirement to cover the symbol, but in a private environment there is obviously no prohibition.
Mr BOURMAN: Thank you, Attorney-General. I think that is a little extreme, but I am not going to labour the point. The last thing I will say is the administration of this is going to be difficult, but the people who generally sell these things are dealers, whether they are arms dealers or whatever. Is the government going to embark on a campaign to make sure that the people that are actually selling these things—at a military affair or wherever—are suitably prewarned about the standards that are required rather than having to find out at the time? I am assuming there is going to be at least some leeway in the early days whilst they sort it out, but is the government going to commit to giving them a decent heads-up on what is and is not suitable?
Ms SYMES: I think the answer to that is that if we are made aware of a military affair then we can certainly make sure that we take steps to bring to their attention the requirements. To your point, I think as opposed to trying to get information out to all dealers, there is the capacity for police to request that a display be removed, and then the offence of failing to comply with that direction would kick in. If somebody has got a model aeroplane and it has not got a sticker on it, police will say, ‘Hey, that’s what you’re supposed to do’, and it would be an offence not to comply with that direction.
Mr QUILTY: I have got a few scribbled things here, so some of this might be disjointed. Committee question time is not my forte—but anyway. I am curious to see if you can clarify how we are proposing to recognise when the swastika is a symbol of love and purity and where we draw the line between that and when it is a symbol of hate.
Ms SYMES: Mr Quilty, I am a little confused by your question. Are you asking me to differentiate between two symbols? Is that what you are asking me to do?
Mr QUILTY: I am wondering, under this legislation, exactly where the line will be drawn.
Ms SYMES: I guess your question is best answered by the reason that we are having a delayed commencement of six months. The reports that I got from some of the Hindu community were that when somebody comes to their door and they see their swastika, they go, ‘Oh, hang on. Are you a Nazi?’, to which they say, ‘No, no, this is our symbol’, and explain the differences. And people go, ‘Oh, right’, and they get it pretty clearly. To me it is obvious; I have been educated about it. I think the education process and the community awareness process that will be largely driven by the Hindu community—to celebrate and remind people about what their symbol means versus a symbol that is horrible and designed to divide and cause offence particularly to the Jewish community—will make it a lot more obvious to those people that have not had the opportunity to be educated.
Mr QUILTY: This might be going out to a strange place, but do you not think there is a possibility that Neo-Nazis may propose they are putting a sign out there as an act of love?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Are there are any further questions?
Mr QUILTY: I take it the minister did not want to answer that question.
Mr Leane: It wasn’t a question, it was a comment.
Mr QUILTY: It was, ‘Do you not think?’.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Mr Quilty, I think the Attorney took it as a comment, so would you like to rephrase your question?
Mr QUILTY: She did not wish to answer it. Will the legislation consider a cross with the arms bent at right angles in a counterclockwise direction to be a Nazi symbol?
Ms SYMES: Mr Quilty, a Hakenkreuz or something that closely resembles the Hakenkreuz that is on display that causes offence is going to be picked up by this legislation. I understand that a hand-drawn particular symbol may be open to interpretation, but in the instances that we are trying to prevent and that are the reason we are creating this offence, generally there are very few grey areas that we have come across at this point in time. If the symbol looks like a Hakenkreuz or closely resembles a Hakenkreuz, it will be caught by the offence unless there is a genuine excuse, a genuine reason. Police will be undertaking some training in relation to making sure that they are clear on the obvious differences, and in instances where it is questionable, if there is somebody that is responsible for the display, then appropriate questions would be asked.
Mr QUILTY: Thank you, Minister. Would the blue swastika that was used by the Finnish air force before and during the Second World War be caught up under this?
Ms SYMES: Mr Quilty, I am not familiar with that symbol being connected with Nazi ideology, which is the purpose of the bill in relation to banning of Nazi hate symbols. It is not intended to pick up other symbols.
Mr QUILTY: I will just labour that point, because obviously during the Second World War Finland fought both with the Germans and against the Germans. I feel like someone could make that link fairly easily, but you do not intend it to pick up that symbol?
Ms SYMES: Again, Mr Quilty, the ability to question people and ask what their motives are is an important feature of this legislation. It is not intended to capture symbols other than a specific Nazi hate symbol, the Hakenkreuz. Where there are any confusions, which again goes to the importance of an awareness education campaign and some training for police, then there can be appropriate conversations, and obviously further on from the police the DPP has a role in relation to appropriate charges in relation to these offences.
Mr QUILTY: Okay. Mr Bourman picked up my questions on models. There are computer games which are strategy simulations of World War II. Admittedly it is much less common these days to see a swastika or Hakenkreuz in the games, but does this legislation intend to pick that up?
Ms SYMES: In what?
Mr QUILTY: Is it intended to ban the use of these symbols in computer games?
Ms SYMES: We have not been able to have the legislation apply to the online environment, because it is just too difficult to enforce. Just picking up, I guess, on the themes of your questions, there is no intention to ban the symbol for the use of historical, artistic or educational purposes. So I guess, as I said, computer games are almost left out because of the online inability to enforce these offences. But if it is a game that reflects—the same as a movie—an era, then an exemption would apply if the online exemption did not apply anyway, unless it was a game that was designed to cause hate, and then I would have issues with it. I think one of the features that I have welcomed in recent times is the reporting from the media, for example, on the ban of the Hakenkreuz. A lot of the establishments either did not display the Nazi symbol or blurred it out a bit and that type of thing, and I think we will see more and more of that—not necessarily in the gaming industry, but it might be open to people to come up with other ways of demonstrating the historical facts while being conscious of the fact that it is a symbol that really causes harm to people. I have been really impressed with people trying to find that balance around communicating, educating and informing whilst being respectful of people’s feelings.
Mr QUILTY: I note there does not seem to be a reasonable person test anywhere in the legislation, so who is the person who is reasonably likely to be offended—anyone, or the most poorly sighted, least informed, most politically motivated person?
Ms SYMES: I am sorry, Mr Quilty, can you bring me to the clause you are referring to?
Mr QUILTY: Not necessarily. The short answer is no. We are in clause 3 somewhere. Let us skip on. I might come back to that one. Is it a public display if someone has the symbol on the background of their phone and uses the phone in public?
Ms SYMES: Often as the case is with me responding to questions that are specific examples, it could be that if somebody has a picture on their phone that is in view of the public and is of a Nazi hate symbol, then yes, it could be captured by the legislation.
Mr QUILTY: Could it be considered a public display if the layout of a building was considered to resemble a swastika when viewed from above?
Ms SYMES: Mr Quilty, again, when there is a public display of a symbol and then we look to the exemptions, the whole purpose of this bill is to prohibit display that is predominantly about causing harm to others. A loosely resembled design of a building that can only be viewed from a hot air balloon is unlikely to be captured by the legislation unless there is a clear intent that somebody—like, a crop burning thing might. But again it would come back to what the motivation of the person was and whether they are covered by any exemptions. In relation to an unintended consequence of the design of a building, I think we are getting into some pretty unlikely events. But sure, if somebody designed a building that was deliberately aimed at a public display of this hate symbol, then it could possibly be captured. But an incidental resemblance would not meet the threshold of the legislation.
Mr QUILTY: Okay. The bill protects the use of the symbol in opposition to fascism, Nazism, Neo-Nazism or other related ideologies. Would displaying a Nazi symbol as part of a free speech demonstration be protected as opposition to fascism?
Ms SYMES: Mr Quilty, the public display of the symbol is something that we are seeking to ban. If somebody claims that it is for a particular purpose, they have got to fit into one of the exemptions, and claiming you are using it in a different way is not a way of avoiding this legislation.
Mr QUILTY: I note in the bill they have an explanation saying if it is displayed with some description saying that it is opposing fascism it is fine, so if you were to claim that limiting freedom of speech was fascist—
Ms SYMES: The simple answer, I suppose, is in a political sense it could potentially fall under that exemption, but again it would need to be balanced out with the motives and the like. It is a unique example that you are raising, and as I said, when we are crafting a law that is difficult to define every single example for, it is difficult for me to give you a definitive answer other than sometimes it might.
Mr QUILTY: I am interested in what ideologies are related to fascism and Neo-Nazism. Is socialism related to national socialism?
Ms SYMES: I will just get some advice.
Mr Quilty, I just want to go through this in a little bit of detail. I just want to refer to the sections, I think, Mr Quilty, because it will make the answers to your questions a little cleaner. In relation to the public display of Nazi symbols, if we go to new section 41K(2):
A person does not contravene subsection (1) if the person establishes that the display was engaged in reasonably and in good faith …
for a variety of reasons. The topic that you are on is covered off by paragraph (d), and that is:
in opposition to fascism, Nazism, neo-Nazism or other related ideologies …
And there are examples here:
A person who displays a flag of Nazi Germany with a marking through it to signal the person’s opposition to Nazism.
A person participating in a protest who displays a Nazi symbol on a placard which also contains words stating opposition to fascism.
So if it is very clearly opposed to fascism, then that is an appropriate exemption that can apply. But I guess it is worth pointing out that the exception is not limited to opposition to Nazism and Neo-Nazism alone and includes other related ideologies. This acknowledges the fact that the Hakenkreuz is often used to promote a range of hateful ideologies, such as racism, for example.
Flipping your question a little bit, but in terms of the risks of fascism and other related ideologies and the exemption being used for dishonest purposes, through our consultations and drafting of the bill we believe that there is minimal risk that a potential offender may seek to dishonestly rely upon this exception to evade prosecution. This is because the exception requires the display to be engaged in reasonably and in good faith in opposition to fascism, Nazism, Neo-Nazism or other related ideologies. A display of Nazi symbols which pretends to be for this purpose would not satisfy the reasonable and good-faith requirements of the exemption and would be captured by the offence. This exception supports the right to freedom of expression and acknowledges the Hakenkreuz can be used to protest a broader range of ideologies rather than Nazism alone.
Mr QUILTY: I am not sure that completely answered my question, but I will leave that there for the moment. I raised in my speech the use of the Russian ‘Z’ symbol in the invasion of Ukraine and the use of a pair of Zs crossed by protesters against the war in Ukraine. Is that going to trip any issues?
Ms SYMES: Mr Quilty, we are going around a little bit in relation to the symbol that this legislation proposes to ban. It is confined to the Hakenkreuz.
Mr QUILTY: I only raise that one because as part of the process there is the belief that the Russians are now the Nazis in the war, and the symbol is drawn because it resembles a swastika. It will not be picked up?
Ms SYMES: Mr Quilty, I was just seeking assurances from the box that they have the same view of the question that you asked me as I do. I can repeat that this legislation is about banning the Hakenkreuz.
Mr QUILTY: So just to go back to ideology for a second, sometimes there is a dispute over who the fascists actually are. For example, if we go back to the Russian invasion of Ukraine again, Russia claims they are conducting denazification of Ukraine, so how do we know who the fascists are?
Ms SYMES: Mr Quilty, the bill is in relation to a pretty confined space, and it is about banning a symbol that causes a lot of pain and creating appropriate exemptions where appropriate. To me it is pretty clear when most of this will be applicable and when it will not be, and it is confined to the Nazi hate symbol, no other symbols at this point in time. There may be a future Parliament that wants to revisit and expand that, particularly if people pivot to new and emerging areas of division, intolerance and racism. This is a bill about a particular symbol, predominantly causing pain to the Jewish community, although I do acknowledge that it is a symbol that is being used against other marginalised groups as well. That has been a growing trend, which is another really good reason to bring about this offence, so that it stops the growth of that hate.
Mr QUILTY: All right. I did have another point there, but it has slipped out of my head, so I will move on. The exemption for a Nazi swastika tattoo—are we not concerned that this is going to encourage people to get tattoos that they can display publicly?
Ms SYMES: You are asking me for an opinion in relation to what people may or may not do. In relation to the non-applicability, I suppose, of tattoos, it was something that we looked at, but in balancing people’s individual rights and the overlay of the human rights charter we fell on the side of not banning the tattooing of the symbol. I would put on record my discouragement of people acting in that way, but that is the balance that we have struck.
Mr QUILTY: I have general questions around genuine artistic expression. It seems to me like there are potential loopholes here as well. Could someone not argue that the use of the swastika to offend, provoke or agitate is part of a genuine artistic purpose? For example, we have seen artworks where symbols are used to provoke.
Ms SYMES: I acknowledge the area is difficult to define and difficult to be really express about, and that is often the case when we are talking about legislation that applies to people’s rights. What I would say is that we thought it was important to have an exception for artistic purposes. We wanted that to be broad and include not only the creative aspect of art but associated commercial activities, such as intellectual property, marketing, promotion and distribution. It allows for the Nazi symbol to be displayed in public if the display is done reasonably and in good faith and is done genuinely for an artistic purpose. I would really hope that there is not motivation to use this as a loophole, but that is why we have the good faith and reasonable provisions in the bill. We know that artwork is always evolving. It is why it is important that any exception for artistic work not be too prescriptive. There will be genuine reasons, and as you have identified, perhaps people are interested in art for a variety of reasons. But again, it comes back to the purpose of this bill: is the motivation to cause offence and harm? It is incumbent upon people that do display, when they are seeking to rely on an exemption, that they have taken appropriate steps and care in considering any harm that the display could cause. So you have to balance the exception, and I acknowledge it is a broad exception, coming back to reasonableness and good faith. Of course there is a subjective element to that, but that will be a matter for the courts.
Mr QUILTY: This one might be my final question. Talking about art and also political depictions, a cartoon depicting a prominent political leader as a Nazi with a swastika—is that going to be banned under this?
Ms SYMES: More than likely, yes.
Mr RICH-PHILLIPS: Attorney, I would just like to follow up on some of the questions you had from Mr Bourman in the matter I raised in the second reading. In the answers to Mr Bourman, you referred to circumstances largely where items were displayed in private. I would like to ask specifically about public display of items, artefacts that have the symbol, and give the example, as I did in the second reading, of World War II vehicles, World War II aircraft. They are British, US and German, and they are marked accordingly with British, German and US markings. Typically they will be displayed at steam fairs, they will displayed at car rallies, they will be displayed at air shows—public events where there are a lot of people. They are displayed for the purposes of displaying a vintage war-era vehicle, so they are not displayed with any political intent, and I just seek clarification or confirmation that that would be included under the cultural and educational exemption that is provided in the bill, assuming the standard criteria of ‘reasonably and in good faith’.
Ms SYMES: It depends on the purpose of the display. If the purpose of the display is for commercial and trade, then it would be considered a public display and therefore steps would have to be taken to cover up the symbol—say it is on the door of a car or something, for example. But if it is for the purposes of a display for educational or cultural reasons or educative purposes—even artistic purposes—then the exemption could apply. But again it comes back to the motivation that the person is seeking to rely on for an exemption for the public display. Again, it is hard to be clear cut in these things, but if it is purely for commercial purposes, you need to cover it. If it is for a display that is connected to, I guess, an outdoor museum event or something like that, for lack of probably a better example, an exemption may very well apply.
Mr RICH-PHILLIPS: Thank you, Attorney. Certainly not in a commercial context but more in the latter examples you gave, for a military vehicle that is German, that has got the Iron Cross, that has also got a swastika on it, if it is displayed at a car rally along with other military trucks and things like that, would that likely fall under the cultural and educational exemption?
Ms SYMES: Probably, I think, in the way that you have articulated that. Again, it comes down to if you seek to rely on an exemption and it is questioned, you would need to be looking at the motivation for engaging in the display—whether the person who engaged in the display acted with prudence, caution and diligence and took appropriate care to avoid harmful consequences. With the way you have described it in a historical display, there is an exemption that could potentially apply unless it was a display that was designed to cause offence. So you have got to look at the motivations of the people that are having it on public display, and I think taking steps to advise people about the purposes of it and the like as opposed to a rally about Nazi memorabilia—‘Come and have a look’. There would be a few factors that people would have to take into consideration, but a genuine, good-faith display of a vintage car could very well be fine under an exemption if it were not for sale for a trade purpose.
Clause agreed to; clauses 2 to 4 agreed to.
Reported to house without amendment.
That the report be now adopted.
Motion agreed to.
That the bill be now read a third time.
The PRESIDENT: The question is:
That the bill be now read a third time and do pass.
House divided on question:
|Atkinson, Mr||Hayes, Mr||Rich-Phillips, Mr|
|Bach, Dr||Kieu, Dr||Shing, Ms|
|Barton, Mr||Leane, Mr||Stitt, Ms|
|Bath, Ms||Lovell, Ms||Symes, Ms|
|Bourman, Mr||Maxwell, Ms||Tarlamis, Mr|
|Burnett-Wake, Ms||Meddick, Mr||Taylor, Ms|
|Crozier, Ms||Melhem, Mr||Terpstra, Ms|
|Cumming, Dr||Ondarchie, Mr||Tierney, Ms|
|Davis, Mr||Pulford, Ms||Vaghela, Ms|
|Elasmar, Mr||Ratnam, Dr||Watt, Ms|
Question agreed to.
Read third time.
The PRESIDENT: Pursuant to standing order 14.27, the bill will be returned to the Assembly with a message informing them that the Council have agreed to the bill without amendment.