The Australian federal government will introduce a bill next week to ban the public display of Nazi symbols across Australia, according to the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) which also welcomed and applauded the announcement.
This announcement has been made days after Victoria Police announced they are investigating two young neo-Nazis, Nathan Bull and Michael ‘Mickle’ Nelson, for performing the Nazi salute during a protest in Melbourne's central business district on Sunday, according to the Herald Sun.
The pair were seen smiling and laughing while performing the salute surrounded by police officers outside the State Library of Victoria. They were eventually moved on from the area by police according to the report.
AIJAC Executive Director Dr. Colin Rubenstein said on Wednesday that “we believe this legislation will send a clear message to the Australian community that we as a nation will not tolerate those who seek to divide us by promoting an ideology characterized by racism, industrialized genocide and mass murder.”
"[Australia] will not tolerate those who seek to divide us by promoting an ideology characterized by racism, industrialized genocide and mass murder"AIJAC Executive Director Dr. Colin Rubenstein
Rubenstein continued, “The bill is particularly welcome at a time when antisemitism is rising globally and, frighteningly, moving into mainstream discourse in numerous different ways, a process that has been abetted in Australia by the public displays by Neo-Nazi thugs on the streets of Melbourne and other cities. Unless and until there are consequences for their actions, we can expect neo-Nazis to become more brazen, with all the destructive consequences they create for communal harmony and the rights of vulnerable minorities.”
AIJAC Director of Community and International Affairs Jeremy Jones added, “Australian right-wing extremists deserve contempt and ridicule, but also need clear deterrents to their harmful behavior. The proposed commonwealth laws appears to be designed to supplement existing and proposed state Nazi symbol laws in several useful ways - it clearly applies to symbols displayed online, it bans the traffic in Nazi memorabilia and it provides police with the ability to immediately act to deal with the display of Nazi symbols by giving them the power to order their immediate removal.”
Rubenstein concluded that his organization is “grateful to the federal government in general and attorney-general Mark Dreyfus in particular for their efforts to develop and advance this bill so quickly. We also thank the opposition for their efforts to help promote a Federal bill to ban Nazi symbols. We hope and expect that the current proposed bill can receive bipartisan support, and become law as soon as practicable.”
Australia's ongoing battle with antisemitism, neo-Nazism
In March, the premier of Australia's Victoria state condemned Nazi salutes at a protest in the state capital Melbourne as an attempt "to scapegoat minorities" using "evil ideology". The federal Australian government had begun working on a move to ban the Nazi salute within months, following the incident.
Victoria in December passed laws criminalizing the public display of Nazi symbols in what the center-left Labor state government said was a move to stamp out antisemitism and hate.
In May, the Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC) called on the Victoria government to ban the sale of Nazi memorabilia after another auction of such memorabilia was held online. The auction was held by the Oldies Collectables and included a variety of items including Nazi service medals, postcards and weapons from the Third Reich, stamps from Nazi Germany and a Nazi armband, among other items. Many of the items have already been sold.