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‘Abhorrent’: Tough new laws on Nazi symbols

Holocaust survivor Andrew Steiner. Picture: Duncan Evans
Holocaust survivor Andrew Steiner. Picture: Duncan Evans

Another state is moving to ban Nazi symbols and gestures as Australia grapples with how to attack and beat back a sudden nationwide rush in anti-Semitism.

South Australian Attorney-General Kyam Maher said his government would introduce legislation into parliament this week to specifically prohibit public displays of swastikas or the Nazi salute.

The move follows NSW and Victoria, which have also banned the notorious signals of German fascism, and comes as the state suffers a spate in anti-Semitic animosity.

Adelaide Holocaust Museum chair Greg Adams said South Australia’s Jewish community was “feeling it on the ground”.

“Anti-Semitism is a real threat, the rise of far-right nationalism is a real threat and needs to be dealt with appropriately,” he said.

Adelaide Holocaust Museum chair Greg Adams, Holocaust survivor Andrew Steiner and South Australian Attorney-General Kyam Maher at the Adelaide Holocaust Museum. Picture: Duncan Evans
Adelaide Holocaust Museum chair Greg Adams, Holocaust survivor Andrew Steiner and South Australian Attorney-General Kyam Maher at the Adelaide Holocaust Museum. Picture: Duncan Evans

Late last year, he said four people stood outside the museum and performed Nazi salutes, which Mr Adams says was used as part of a “recruitment” campaign for neo-Nazis.

The proposed legislation would impose fines of up to $20,000 or one year in jail for the offences.

“We have seen increased activity from the neo-Nazi movement around the country which is totally unacceptable,” Mr Maher said.

“This Bill will impose tough new penalties on those who seek to promote this abhorrent ideology and give the police the powers they need to ensure prohibited symbols are swiftly removed.”

The new law contains protections for “innocent” uses of Nazi symbols, including their good faith use in academia, education and the arts.

Adolf Hitler
Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler performs a Nazi salute in Munich in the spring of 1932. The swastika symbol is on his left arm. Picture: Heinrich Hoffmann/Archive Photos/Getty Images

A wave of anti-Semitism has washed over Australia since October 7 when Islamic terror group Hamas butchered hundreds of Israeli civilians, including the elderly, women and children, in a surprise attack on the Jewish state.

The terrorists kidnapped 240 Israelis, holding them hostage in Gaza.

Israel responded with force, bombing the densely populated slip of land.

The bombing campaign, though directed at Hamas fighters, has resulted in thousands of Palestinian deaths, including children and Palestinian men and women who are not associated with Hamas.

PALESTINE MARCH
A pro-Palestine rallygoer holds up a sign with Nazi symbolism in Melbourne on November 19. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Crosling,

The war has triggered furious passions in Australia, with multiple pro-Palestine rallies in all major cities across the country.

Some of the rallies have exhibited anti-Semitic sentiments, including a rally at the Sydney Opera House two days after the Hamas attack during which a group of men chanted “f**k the Jews” and “gas the Jews”.

On October 13, three men were arrested after allegedly performing Nazi salutes outside Sydney’s Jewish Museum.

The men have pleaded not guilty to the charges of behaving in an offensive manner near a public place/school and knowingly displaying by public act a Nazi symbol without excuse.

NO Rally
A group of neo-Nazi sympathisers at a rally in Melbourne. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Luis Enrique Ascui

Holocaust survivor Andrew Steiner welcomed the new laws and said he had seen “concerning cracks” begin to appear in Australian society.

“We are extraordinarily successful multicultural, homogeneous society,” he said in Adelaide on Wednesday.

“However, there are unfortunate, concerning cracks which have appeared and need to be dealt with.

“But our emphasis here at the museum is one of being caring, harmonious, compassionate, everybody historically equal, there are no differences, we are all totally the same as human beings.”