SYDNEY (AP) — Australia’s most populous state took a major step toward banning Nazi symbols on Tuesday when the New South Wales Parliament’s lower house passed a bill that would criminalize their display.
The bill must pass the upper chamber to become law.
Victoria, Australia’s second-most populous state, in June became the first in Australia to pass a law banning the public display of Nazi swastikas.
Queensland and Tasmania states have foreshadowed similar laws, which would mean half Australia’s eight states and territories and most of the Australian population were banned from displaying Nazi symbols.
New South Wales Attorney General Mark Speakman told Parliament on Tuesday the Nazi swastika harmed and distressed community members, including those of the Jewish faith. In 2020, New South Wales Police received 31 reports of the display of Nazi flags, including one from a home near a Sydney synagogue.
“Hateful and vilifying conduct is completely unacceptable in our community,” Speakman said.
Using or displaying Nazi flags or Nazi memorabilia bearing swastikas would be banned under the law.
The legislation would allow the use of the symbol for religious and education purposes. The swastika for Buddhist, Hindu, Jain and other faith communities is an ancient and sacred symbol.
Individuals would face 12 months in prison or an 11,000 Australian dollar ($7,670) fine for breaking the laws, while corporations faced AU$55,000 ($38,350) fines.
In an amendment to the legislation, a review of the laws would need to be held within a 3 1/2-year after they come into effect.
Victoria has set penalties of AU$22,000 ($15,340) and 12 months in prison for displaying the Nazi swastika.