The revision of the anti-terrorist law aims to reinforce the siege of Nazi symbols, also prohibiting the sale of Nazi material and the publication on the Internet of material linked to Nazi ideology.
Australia’s attorney general said on Thursday the government wanted to pass legislation to ban the swastika and other Nazi symbols across the country, due to increased far-right activity.
While most Australian states already ban Nazi symbols, the revised Terrorism Act would go further by also banning the trade in Nazi material and the posting of material related to Nazi ideology on the internet.
“There has been an increase in this type of violent far-right activity. We think it is time for a federal law that I will take to Parliament next week,” said Mark Dreyfus, on Australia’s Nine Network television.
“We have import and export responsibilities. We want to see an end to the trade in these types of items or any item bearing these Nazi symbols,” Dreyfus said. “There is no place in Australia to spread hate and violence,” he added.
The Labor government controls the lower house of parliament, the Chamber of Deputies, but not the Senate, and it is unclear when a ban might be passed or take effect. The law would include a penalty of up to one year in prison for people who display Nazi symbols.
The display of symbols for religious, educational or artistic purposes would be one of the exceptions to the ban, which would not affect the use of the swastika for people who practice Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.
Dreyfus, who is Jewish, said the number of neo-Nazis in Australia is small, but Australian services in the country have raised concerns about far-right activities in the past three years.
“It is a very small number of people. Hopefully it’s getting small and finally disappears,” the attorney general told Australian ABC television.
The neo-Nazi movement has become more visible in Australia since the rise of the white supremacist movement Reclaim Australia in 2015.
Australia’s second most populous state, Victoria, in the country’s southeast, became the first Australian jurisdiction to ban the Nazi swastika in July 2022.
In March, Victoria’s Attorney General Jaclyn Symes said she would propose expanding the law to also punish the Nazi salute, following far-right violence in Melbourne against a transgender rights march. .
To be approved, the proposal must be ratified by the local parliament, the regional government and the opposition having already pronounced themselves in favor of the reform.
Following the incidents, police arrested at least three people, including a woman who attacked an officer.
The display of Nazi symbols is banned in several countries around the world, including Germany and France.