Victoria became the first state in Australia to ban the public display of the swastika on Tuesday.
Legislation passed by the Parliament of Victoria outlaws the Nazi hate symbol, with maximum penalties of $15,000 and 12 months in prison for publicly displaying the swastika.
The measure was praised by Victoria’s Jewish community, including the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC).
“AIJAC welcomes the adoption by the Victorian government of legislation banning the public display of the Nazi swastika outside of educational, artistic and religious contexts, as well as the introduction of a similar bill in the New South Wales parliament yesterday,” AIJAC said in a statement.
AIJAC was encouraged by a statement from Victorian Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes who said that the swastika “does nothing but cause further pain and division. It’s a proud moment to see these important laws pass with bipartisan support – I’m glad to see that no matter what side of politics, we can agree that this vile behaviour will not be tolerated in Victoria.”
New South Wales Attorney General Mark Speakman also expressed support for the legislation, releasing as statement welcoming the bill.
“Hateful and vilifying conduct is completely unacceptable in our community. This bill recognizes that the public display of Nazi symbols is generally considered abhorrent, except in very limited circumstances such as for education purposes, and causes profound offence and distress.”
AIJAC urged Queensland and Tasmania, which have also announced they intend to introduce swastika bans, to move quickly to introduce and adopt similar legislation. The advocacy group also called on the country’s other states and territories to take up similar measures.
“These bans are an important tool to deter open displays of antisemitism and further marginalize racist extremists, and will help strengthen communal cohesion and harmony across Australia,” AIJAC said.