- Government will introduce legislation to prohibit the display and possession of Nazi symbols in certain circumstances
The McGowan Government will progress legislation to criminalise the display and possession of Nazi symbols in certain circumstances. The prohibition will extend to the display of tattoos of Nazi symbols.
The display of Nazi symbols is offensive to many members of society, and particularly to the Jewish community, survivors of the Holocaust and their families and those who have fought against fascism. Nazi symbols, such as the Hakenkreuz (commonly referred to as the swastika), are widely associated with antisemitism, genocide and racial hatred.
Unfortunately, in Western Australia and throughout Australia, there continues to be reported incidents of antisemitism, which sometimes involve the display and possession of Nazi symbols.
Nazi symbols are not only used in association with antisemitism but have been used in vilifying other groups in the community, including Muslims and LGBTQIA+ groups.
The reforms, once passed, will prohibit the display and possession of Nazi symbols in certain circumstances, and will provide penalties (including imprisonment) for any person who contravenes the law.
The Government recognises that there are legitimate purposes for which somebody may display or possess a Nazi symbol, such as for genuine academic or educational purposes, buying or selling bona fide World War II memorabilia, or publishing fair and accurate media reports of matters of public interest. Certain display or possession in those circumstances will remain lawful.
Given that the swastika continues to be used as a symbol of peace and prosperity in some religions, the law will not prohibit display or possession of the swastika when legitimately used in connection with a genuine religious purpose.
Victoria and New South Wales have passed legislation recently to criminalise the display of Nazi symbols, and Queensland and Tasmania have recently announced intention to do the same. The display of Nazi symbols has been banned for many years in several countries including Germany, France, Austria, Belgium, Hungary and Brazil.
Comments attributed to Attorney General John Quigley:
"The McGowan Government will not tolerate hate groups which seek to spread fear, division, and violence in our multicultural society.
"I thank Members of Parliament and Jewish community bodies who have raised concerns with the Government about growing incidences involving the display of Nazi symbols.
"We will continue to work with stakeholder groups during the drafting of the new laws to ensure we strike the right balance between banning offensive behaviour and preserving legitimate uses of the swastika."
Comments attributed to Mount Lawley MLA Simon Millman:
"The display of Nazi symbols is offensive to many members of the Jewish community, and the wider Western Australian Community.
"The swastika is widely associated with antisemitism, genocide and racial hatred.
"The display of such offensive materials which are intended to intimidate and offend members of our community will not be tolerated, and I'm pleased that the McGowan Government is moving to ban the use of the symbol in such circumstances."
Comments attributed to Jewish Community Council of WA President Geoff Midalia:
"This legislation will be a triumph of civility in WA over hatemongers and bullies who use Nazi symbols as a rallying signal.
"Nothing in WA politics even faintly resembles the mobilisation of State resources to conduct the murder of millions of people, so the continual use of Nazi symbols in our public discourse is ignorant and offensive in the extreme.
"The Jewish community joins the vast majority of Western Australians in applauding this legislation, which will protect our free, open, inclusive, and cohesive society."
Attorney General's office - 6552 6800