09 June 2023
The Australian Federal Government is to introduce legislation banning the display of NSDAP swastikas and SS runes.
Australian politicians have capitalised on the outrage caused when a neo-Nazi group marched in support of an anti-trans rights rally which was being opposed by pro-trans rights supporters. The issue came to a head when 30 men from the neo-Nazi AU Nationalist Socialist Network marched outside Victoria’s parliament in Melbourne and repeatedly performed the Hitler salute. Immediately afterwards there was a call for the salute to be legally banned in Victoria and a bill to make the salute a criminal offense was proposed by the Liberal opposition. However, a parliamentary committee, backed by the government (Labour), rejected this in favour of introducing its own bill.
Which brings us to a new Federal law to be introduced next week, when the Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus announced that the government would criminalise the display of the Nazi swastika (but not the Hindu or other religious versions) and symbols for the SS, presumably meaning the SS runes. Dreyfus announced, “There is no place in Australia for symbols that glorify the horrors of the Holocaust. The Albanese government is sending the clearest possible signal to those who seek to spread hatred, violence, and anti-Semitism that we find these actions repugnant and they will not be tolerated.”
However, the details of the bill appeared more to be aimed at collectors than right wing thugs on the street as performing the Hitler salute will not actually be banned. The bill will prohibit physical and online displays of the two symbols and will make it an offense to profit from them, for example by selling a flag with the swastika on it. Despite this, and somewhat contradictory, private ownership of such items, those taken as war souvenirs, and those displayed in museums will not be banned. There will also be exceptions for displaying them in academic, artistic (presumably films), literary or scientific purposes. As the swastika was the official symbol of NSDAP-controlled Germany in WWII, it is on everything from posters to badges, crockery to flags. So, selling these items will be illegal, but owning them won’t be, which is almost guaranteed to drive the trade underground.
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