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Australia plans legislation to ban swastikas and other Nazi symbols

The Australian government would legislate to ban swastikas and other Nazi symbols throughout the nation due to an increase in far right activity, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said on Thursday (Chris Donaghy/AAP Image via AP)
Rod McGuirk, Associated Press

Australia’s government is planning legislation to ban swastikas and other Nazi symbols due to an increase in far-right activity, attorney-general Mark Dreyfus said on Thursday.

While most Australian states already ban Nazi symbols, the federal law would go further by banning the trade in such material, Mr Dreyfus said.

“There’s been a rise in this kind of violent far right activity. We think it’s time for there to be a federal law which I’ll be bringing to the Parliament next week,” Mr Dreyfus told Nine Network television.

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“We’ve got responsibility for import and export. We want to see an end to trading in this kind of memorabilia or any items which bear those Nazi symbols. There’s no place in Australia for spreading of hatred and violence.”

The Labor government controls the House of Representatives but not the Senate and it is unclear when a ban might pass or take effect.

The law would include a penalty for people displaying Nazi symbols of up to a year in prison.

Displaying symbols for religious, educational or artistic purposes would be among a range of exclusions from the ban which will not affect the use of the swastika for people observing Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.

Mr Dreyfus, who is Jewish, said the number of neo-Nazis was small, but the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation had raised concerns about their activity in the past three years.

“This is a very small number of people. I’m hoping it’s getting small and it will eventually disappear,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.