Tuesday, 7 June 2022


Summary Offences Amendment (Nazi Symbol Prohibition) Bill 2022



Summary Offences Amendment (Nazi Symbol Prohibition) Bill 2022

Second reading

Debate resumed on motion of Ms HUTCHINS:

That this bill be now read a second time.

Government amendments circulated by Ms HUTCHINS under standing orders.

Mr M O’BRIEN (Malvern) (13:03): ‘Never again’ is a phrase often used in relation to remembrance of the Holocaust. We use these words to recognise the horror of what happened in many of our lifetimes and to make clear our determination as a community that never again shall such inhumanity be allowed to take place. Regrettably, even in a multicultural state such as Victoria—a tolerant state, a harmonious state—there remain people within our community who do not believe in ‘Never again’. There remain people in our community who are, for want of a better term, Neo-Nazis. The damage, the pain and the trauma that so many people went through—and the relatives of those people today—must never be forgotten, and that is why we must always be aware and on our guard about those who would seek to downplay or, worse still, to perpetuate or to talk up or to act in relation to this most evil of ideologies—the Nazi ideology.

The Age newspaper journalists Nick McKenzie and Joel Tozer did a remarkable series of articles in August last year under the series title ‘Nazis next door’, and the thought that so many people, often young, often disaffected—misled for sure—but so many people, could willingly align themselves with Nazi or Neo-Nazi ideology is a grave concern. The fact that people who have been the victims of the Holocaust—people of the Jewish faith and culture, gay and lesbian people, the Romani community and others who were targeted by that evil regime—should have to live in a community with people who are seeking to perpetuate such horror is intolerable.

That is why the Liberals and Nationals announced back in February 2020 that if we were elected, we would ban the public display of the Nazi swastika, which intends to incite hate in Victoria. We did so because we listened to the community, because we are determined to say ‘never again’ and to act to ensure that never again shall those horrors be perpetrated, not in our community and not on our watch. We know the pain that that Nazi swastika causes when people see it being used to target them because of who they are, because of where they have come from, and it is not acceptable. My friend and colleague the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, the member for Caulfield, and the then Shadow Attorney-General, Mr O’Donohue in the other place, announced on 2 February that a Liberal-Nationals government would ban the public display of the Nazi swastika and other Nazi symbols which intend to incite hate in Victoria. This was widely supported and welcomed by many community groups, including the Jewish community, here in this state.

We put this forward hoping it would be taken up in a bipartisan way. The government made some positive noises, but ultimately it took a long time. The member for Caulfield was very strong in pursuing this because he knows it was the right thing to do, and this side of the house knows it was the right thing to do. We introduced a private members bill which got put to one side by the government. So we have been very strong on this. We initiated this and we did it proudly, because we stand up for the values of this state, which include tolerance, harmony and respect for individuals—and you could not be more at odds with that than through the symbolism of Nazi ideology, the Nazi swastika.

The government determined to provide a reference to the Legal and Social Issues Committee of the Legislative Assembly on a number of matters, including the question of the banning of the Nazi swastika. That happened in March 2021 when the report came down, and recommendation 24 of that report was that the Victorian government establish a criminal offence that prohibits the display of symbols of Nazi ideology, including the Nazi swastika, with considered exceptions to the prohibition. The government flagged that it was accepting that recommendation, but it took until 11 May this year for the Attorney-General to announce that the government would be introducing the bill before the house, the Summary Offences Amendment (Nazi Symbol Prohibition) Bill 2022. In the press release announcing the introduction of the bill the Attorney-General said:

The legislation will come into effect a year after passing …

A year after passing—the government said it was to allow for time to implement an education campaign to raise awareness of the origins of the religious and the cultural swastika as opposed to the Nazi swastika. Can I say, it is very important that people do understand the difference between the Nazi swastika, referred to in this legislation as the Hakenkreuz, and the traditional swastika, which has been used for many, many years by the Buddhist, Hindu and Jain communities. They are separate symbols, and people of the Buddhist and Hindu and Jain communities should not be tarred in any way with the brush of those who seek to use the Nazi swastika. We do support the notion that there should be an education campaign not just for those communities but for the broader community. People do need to understand the difference between the Nazi swastika and the swastika which has been a culturally and historically significant symbol, an ancient and sacred symbol of peace and good fortune, for the Buddhist, Hindu and Jain communities. Where we do part company with the government is we do not believe that the important protections in this bill should be put on hold, put on the shelf, for a year while that community education campaign takes place. We believe that the issues that led to the introduction of this bill and the need to protect the community against Neo-Nazis and those who seek to propagate the symbol of that Nazi ideology—those protections deserve to be in place from day one.

The government, in the 15 minutes before this debate was brought on, advised the opposition of house amendments which the Minister for Corrections has circulated before the house. Rather than saying that in 12 months time the bill will take effect, the government is now saying, effectively, through these amendments, that in six months time the bill will take effect. The Liberals and Nationals say this bill contains protections which are important today, and these protections should be put in place the minute this bill receives royal assent. There is no case for waiting. We should not have to wait to end the hate, and that is why this bill should take effect immediately. I can announce that a Liberal-Nationals government, should we be fortunate enough to secure a mandate on 26 November, will implement this bill in full on day one. At our very first opportunity this bill will be implemented in full because, as I say, you should not wait to end the hate.

The Jewish Community Council of Victoria are a body that the Attorney-General thought highly enough of—and rightly so—to ask to join her for the government’s announcement of the introduction of this bill, and they obviously praised the intent of the bill, just as they have praised the Liberals and Nationals and particularly the member for Caulfield for his great work in initiating this whole notion when we announced our position back in February 2020. I refer to a letter from Daniel Aghion SC, the president of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria. This is to the member for Caulfield, dated 17 May 2022. The letter states, in part:

However, we would ask you to do what you can to encourage the Government to consider amending the bill to immediately ban the public display of Nazi swastikas, rather than delaying the ban for 12 months. There is a concrete reason why we make this request. Regrettably, only 24 hours after the Attorney-General’s announcement that this bill would be introduced, the Beth Weizmann Jewish Community Centre, in which the JCCV has its offices, was vandalised with swastikas by two individuals. This incident occurred during work hours while I was in the building hosting a small community meeting for the Israeli Ambassador. The delay in this bill’s introduction means that the two men arrested—and anyone else who seeks to display the Nazi swastika in public during the next 12 months—cannot be charged with this soon-to-be crime.

The voice of the Jewish community is very clear: they do not want to wait 12 months; they do not want to wait six months for the protections in this bill to be put in place. They have asked for it to take place immediately. The Liberals and Nationals support this call, and if we are elected, we will act on that call and ensure this bill is implemented in full on day one.

Turning to the provisions of the bill itself, we note that clause 3 of the bill commences with a relatively lengthy statement which refers to the historical use of the swastika as an ancient and auspicious symbol of purity, love, peace and good fortune in Buddhist, Hindu, Jain and other religions and notes that it was misappropriated by the Nazi party and the Third Reich in Germany. That is a very accurate summation. Again, I reiterate that this Parliament in debating and hopefully passing this legislation shows nothing but love and respect for those Victorians who use the swastika in its ancient and culturally appropriate way. This bill is not aimed at those people or those communities or those faiths in any way. Those people still have the absolute right to display publicly and to use publicly the ancient swastika, which has been part of the Buddhist, Hindu and Jain communities and other religions for many, many years. This bill is specifically prohibiting the public display of the Nazi swastika, which I think is how most people in the community would refer to it, or, to use the terminology in the bill, the Hakenkreuz.

New section 41J defines a Nazi symbol, which is what is banned, as ‘a Hakenkreuz, being a symbol of a cross with the arms bent at right angles in a clockwise direction’ or a symbol that so nearly resembles it that it is likely to be confused with or mistaken for that symbol. This bill only applies to the Nazi swastika or the Hakenkreuz; it does not apply to other insignia of the Third Reich. People might be aware of the symbols that were used by the SS and other things, and I am sure people have seen enough museums or war movies or Hogan’s Heroes to know that there are other symbols of the Nazi regime. But this bill is very specific, this bill is very targeted, and only relates to the Nazi swastika or Hakenkreuz.

The element of the offence is that a person must not intentionally display a Nazi symbol. That is the first test: has a person intentionally displayed the Nazi symbol or not? They must not intentionally display the Nazi symbol if the person knows or ought reasonably to know that the symbol is associated with Nazi ideology. So a child who has no concept of what a Nazi swastika is or its historical overtones or the immoral acts with which that regime is associated who draws such as symbol without having any understanding of what they are actually doing or the context of it would not be caught by this legislation.

The second element is that the display occurs in a public place, a non-government school or a post-secondary education institution or occurs in sight of a person who is in a public place, a non-government school or a post-secondary education institution. So this does not ban the display of the Nazi swastika or Hakenkreuz in private settings. One of the questions which was raised during the bill briefing I had with the minister’s office and the department was in relation to a fairly infamous incident many years ago where a prominent member of society was dressed up in what I guess they would term fancy dress, which involved a Nazi uniform. The question was whether that conduct, if that happened in Victoria, would fall foul of this bill, and the answer was that if it took place in a private place and not in view of anybody who was in a public place, then no, it would not fall foul of the bill. However, if it did take place in a public place or in view of somebody in a public place, then yes, that conduct would be caught.

I do have some sympathy for the government. In seeking to legislate a ban of this nature, you do have to draw lines, but you also do need to have appropriate exemptions. If we are to make sure that generations to come understand the evil of the Nazi regime and the horrors of the Holocaust, it is important that people are able to be educated. That is why this government, through the bill, does provide for a number of exemptions where the public display of the Nazi swastika can be permitted. That is absolutely right, and that is appropriate.

New section 41K of the bill sets out some exemptions where a person does not contravene the act in certain circumstances. First of all, there are some qualifiers. The display must have been engaged in reasonably and in good faith. We are not talking about people who think that they can be smart alecs and who seek to cause pain and hurt and target vulnerable sections of our community and then rely on what they regard as a loophole, because their actions must be reasonable and they must be in good faith, and I think they are important qualifiers to these exemptions.

To look at what the exemptions are, they can be for a genuine academic, artistic, religious or scientific purpose. For people worried about whether there could be a public screening of The Sound of Music, obviously set during the Nazi occupation in Austria, with the uniforms appropriate to the time—no, you will still be able to watch The Sound of Music. That is not a problem. It would come under a genuine artistic purpose. Academic purposes: people are still able to be educated, to understand about these matters—and religious and scientific purposes as well. For a genuine cultural or educational purpose: so museums and displays of World War II memorabilia—or ‘relics’ may be a more appropriate word than ‘memorabilia’, I think ‘memorabilia’ glorifies it too much—that is another exemption. I did ask about RSLs. I know that my local RSL does have uniforms from World War II, from both Allied and Axis powers. I would be fairly sure that in one of those display cabinets there would be something, whether it is a uniform or a helmet or a dagger or something, that would have a Nazi swastika on it, so the question was quite reasonably, ‘Would our RSLs still be able to continue to have their historic displays there?’, and the answer in the bill briefing was that yes, that that would be for a genuine, cultural or educational purpose. I think, again, that is entirely appropriate. We are not talking about whitewashing history, we are not talking about trying to rewrite history, we just want to make sure that people are not able to be threatened by the abuse of that symbol, that Nazi swastika, as a symbol of the Third Reich, because that is what we have seen happening.

There is another exemption in making or publishing a fair or accurate report of any event or matter of public interest. So, again, it is quite sensible that there should be freedom of the press and there should be the ability to fairly and accurately report a matter. So if, for example, there was a protest and people had signs that had the Nazi swastika in breach of the law, it is not a matter for newspapers or television or journalists generally to have to censor that. If it is a fair and accurate report of an event, then that should be an appropriate exemption, and we do support that exemption in the bill. Finally, another exemption is if the action is genuinely and reasonably in opposition to Fascism, Nazism, Neo-Nazism or other related ideologies.

Proposed section 41K(3) provides that:

A person does not contravene …

the act

if the Nazi symbol is displayed on the person’s body by means of tattooing or other like process.

I suppose this is a recognition that there are practical limits to how this Parliament can legislate, and there are practical limits to the ability of legislators to interfere with what people do on their own bodies. Why anybody would want to go and have a Nazi swastika tattooed on their body is beyond me. It is well beyond my comprehension. You can only imagine it would be an action of somebody who either has no appreciation for what that symbol means to so many people or perhaps more chillingly has every appreciation for what that symbol means to so many people. But I think this is an appropriate recognition that there are limits to the ability and the propriety of this Parliament seeking to impose the community’s view on individuals, and for that reason tattooing is not caught by this bill.

There are exemptions for law enforcement and intelligence agency members acting in good faith and in the performance of their duties and for those acting in good faith in the course of official duties connected with the administration of justice or the prosecution of offences. The Police Association Victoria I think rightly questioned why there is a good-faith requirement in this part of the bill. Surely a member of law enforcement or a member of an intelligence agency acting in the performance of their duties can be assumed to be acting in good faith, so I would be interested if the government has some further views on why that additional qualifier is necessary. Sergeant Wayne Gatt from the police association raised that concern with me, and I put it on the record because I believe it is one that the government should respond to. Again, we are not suggesting that off-duty police officers or intelligence agency officers can do whatever they like with swastikas, but we are talking about an exemption that already requires them to be acting in the performance of their duties, so I suppose the question is: why is good faith necessary as well?

The bill also provides in proposed section 41K(6) that a child cannot be prosecuted for an offence without the written consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions. Again I think this is a sensible safeguard. I think that the idea that a child would necessarily know what they were doing if they were displaying a Nazi swastika is questionable in itself, and I think it is appropriate that any decision to prosecute a child under this bill should be elevated to the DPP so that appropriate discretion can be considered as to whether it is appropriate or not.

In terms of how the bill operates—so, all right, if somebody has contravened the bill, what then happens?—proposed section 41L empowers a police officer to give a direction to a person to remove a Nazi symbol from public display where the person is the owner or occupier of a property on which the Nazi symbol is being displayed and the police officer has a reasonable belief that it is in breach of the bill. This may be done in writing or orally and may include a period for compliance. If a direction cannot be given in person, it can be given in writing or left at or on the relevant property or vehicle where the Nazi symbol is being displayed. Contravening such a direction without a reasonable excuse is an offence, and there is a penalty of 10 penalty units, currently $1817.40. I should note that the maximum penalty under the bill for the offence of publicly displaying the Nazi symbol is 120 penalty units, which is currently $21 808.80 or imprisonment for 12 months, or both.

The bill also provides in proposed section 41M that search warrant provisions in the Crimes Act 1958 apply to this offence as if it were an indictable offence, which has the effect of making it easier to obtain a search warrant, as normally it can be quite difficult to obtain a search warrant in such circumstances.

In my consultation with different community groups on this bill it would be fair to say not every group with which I consulted was fully supportive, and I note that Liberty Victoria did express some misgivings about this bill. In the response from Liberty Victoria they noted that the expansion of the criminal law is not an appropriate or effective way to achieve the government’s objectives and:

There is a risk that the law will have unintended consequences which undermine its objectives.

Now, I do understand the free speech concerns that some groups may put forward. This is novel legislation in this state to ban the public display of a particular symbol, but it is legislation that is very carefully drafted, very carefully targeted and done for a very good reason. This is not some arid academic exercise. This is not guarding against potential future actions. We have got, sadly, Neo-Nazis living amongst us, as has been demonstrated by some excellent journalistic work.

It is important that we send a very clear message as a Parliament, as a community and as a state that we believe ‘Never again’—that we believe the Nazi swastika has no place in this society as a symbol of hate. As I say, this is not an academic exercise. This is about protecting people who are targeted and who are threatened by the display of this symbol by people who are designing to and trying to cause fear and terror in the lives of our fellow citizens. So while I understand the arguments against this bill from an absolutist, free speech point of view, I do not agree with them, because this particular symbol means so much and is so powerful, and therefore it is appropriate that the state take the action that it is seeking to take through this Parliament.

The feedback I have had from Jewish community groups has been obviously supportive, with the exception of the government’s delay in wanting to make this legislation effective. Let me just reiterate: the Liberals and Nationals will make this bill effective from day one if we are elected in November this year. We should not have to wait for the protections in this bill to take effect. We can walk and chew gum at the same time. We can protect the vulnerable in our community and educate the community at the same time. I cannot think of many other pieces of legislation where the government has said, ‘Here’s a vulnerable group of people who are deserving of protection, but you’re going to have to wait for 12 months or six months before you can get that protection’. We have tried to work with the government on a bipartisan basis. When we proposed this reform, when we proposed the bill, the government said, ‘Well, we want extra time to go through our processes’. We have tried to support that as much as we can, but at the end of the day, this initiative was one from the Liberal and National parties. It is one that we have pushed very hard for. We support this bill, but we do not believe that our Jewish community or in fact any community in this state should have to wait for the protections that this bill provides. We should not have to wait to end the hate, but the opposition does support this bill.

Ms SPENCE (Yuroke—Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Minister for Community Sport, Minister for Youth) (13:32): As the Minister for Multicultural Affairs I am very pleased to speak today in avid support of the Summary Offences Amendment (Nazi Symbol Prohibition) Bill 2022 and the amendment that was moved earlier to bring forward the commencement date from 12 months to six months. I want to begin by acknowledging Victoria’s strong and vibrant Jewish community, a community of survivors which has endured relentless persecution and vilification over the course of centuries. Sadly we are reminded far too often that antisemitism is alive and threatening, not only through the memories of the Jewish people during World War II that are passed down from generation to generation and not only through the current rise of extreme far-right groups which glorify one of the most hateful ideologies in human history but also through the casual displays of racism and antisemitism, which can be the most insidious and destructive because they show how deeply ingrained these harmful attitudes and behaviours are in our society. They tell us that we have still got a long way to go before we can eradicate these attitudes. We must do everything that we can to eradicate these attitudes, because as long as we turn a blind eye to these casual displays of racism and antisemitism there will always be the potential for dangerous and hate-filled scenarios to unfold, and we have seen these scenarios transpire in recent times in Victoria, across Australia and of course overseas. We cannot pretend that it is not happening, which is why this government does not shy away from the challenge of ending the threat that antisemitism poses to the Jewish community.

That brings me to this bill, which is unique and which is unprecedented. This bill is a first for our nation, and I welcome and commend the New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmanian governments for also committing to adopting similar regulatory reform. This bill is incredibly important in our collective quest to eradicate the scourge of antisemitism from society. It is incredibly important when we think about the unfortunate spate of incidents where the public display of Nazi symbols was used by various individuals and groups to intimidate and to convey a message of hate and intolerance.

It is incredibly important when we think of January 2020, when a Nazi flag was flown on private property in Beulah in the Grampians in north-west Victoria, where a group of Neo-Nazis were publicly chanting racist slogans and displaying hateful insignia, or the graffitied Hakenkreuz at the Gary Smorgon Oval in Albert Park, or more recently the defacing of corflutes in the federal electorates of Macnamara and Kooyong, or the stickers that were plastered throughout Caulfield, including on the community centre, the day after this bill was introduced. These are reminders of why the bill that we are debating is so important and necessary.

This is a great day, and we have so many members from both sides of the chamber lined up to speak on this bill. We are going to hear some really personal stories and reflections throughout the day. I look forward to this legislation passing through both houses without contention, because when it comes to racism and vilification in Victoria, we should not hesitate to unite in this Parliament to crush it, and I am glad that we will.

I would like to recognise the extensive work of the Legal and Social Issues Committee, which led the inquiry into the anti-vilification protections in Victoria, and I thank the chair, the member for St Albans, and all of the members of that committee for their work. I would also like to give special thanks to the religious, legal and community groups which were consulted in the development of this bill and helped to shape it. This extends to the core consultative group, which comprised faith leaders from the Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu and Jain communities, which are particularly impacted by the bill—because it is important to distinguish between the more recent association of the swastika with Nazism and indeed the misappropriation of the swastika by that hateful regime and the legitimate cultural and religious use of the swastika, which has long been a symbol of good luck and prosperity for Hindu, Buddhist and Jain communities. In fact the Nazi hate symbol that is often referred to as the Nazi swastika is correctly called the Hakenkreuz, and we want to ensure that this legislation does not confuse the two.

Our legislation recognises the long history and the significance of the swastika to the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain communities to ensure that their religious and cultural freedoms remain protected. And before the new law comes into effect, based on the consultation that has been undertaken by the Attorney-General, we will run a community education campaign to raise awareness of the origins of the swastika, its importance to the Buddhist, Hindu and Jain communities and its distinction from the Nazi hate symbol. We have heard that the Liberal and National parties do not want that to occur before the bill is implemented, but I will leave it for them to explain to those communities why they do not want that to happen, even though those communities have asked that that happen first.

To be penalised under this new law, the Hakenkreuz must be intentionally displayed in public with the knowledge that it represents Nazi ideology. In addition to the legitimate cultural and religious use of the swastika, Nazi hate symbols may continue to be used for educational, scientific, artistic or academic purposes. This legislation is designed to prohibit the use of Nazi hate symbols whenever their use seeks to divide us, to incite vilification and to breed hate. It is designed to stamp out malicious acts of antisemitism, which cause an immeasurable amount of harm to our society and particularly to our Jewish community.

For many the horrors of the Holocaust may seem a long time ago now—only they were not. Most adult Victorians have a parent or grandparent that lived during the times of World War II. This atrocity took place in our modern history, and the widespread pain and destruction which resulted from the greatest act of antisemitism should not be underestimated. It should not be forgotten. We should absolutely not ignore it when we see sprouts of it beginning to grow again. Tragically, we need not look further than the weekly newspaper to know that the attitudes and the behaviours that give rise to antisemitism are still present. We have got an opportunity now to stamp out hate and to give it no room to grow.

I support the bill for a number of reasons. I support the bill because it will recognise the religious and cultural use of the swastika. That is, the offence will ensure that the swastika can continue to be used for religious and cultural purposes, such as being displayed at temples, to acknowledge the swastika’s important contribution for Buddhist, Hindu and Jain communities. I support the bill as it targets persons that intentionally display a Nazi hate symbol in public who know that the symbol is associated with Nazi ideology. I support the bill as police powers will support the enforcement of the offence and enable immediate steps to be taken to address the harm caused by its public display. But most importantly I support the bill as it will help reduce racism and vilification by making unlawful the public display of this insidious symbol of hate in our neighbourhoods and across the state.

This bill sends a really clear message that Victoria does not want and will not tolerate antisemitism—not now and not ever. The introduction of this bill could not come at a more poignant time, with the Community Security Group reporting 490 antisemitic events in Australia during 2021, a 38 per cent increase over 2020 and the highest on record. This is an important bill, and this is a necessary bill. I thank the Attorney-General for her work in bringing this bill forward. I commend the bill to the house.

Mr SOUTHWICK (Caulfield) (13:41): I rise standing very proud that we have a bill before the Parliament that has generated so much interest, that is really creating history in the Parliament of Victoria and that is something we can all be proud of. This is not something that individuals should be taking credit for and it is not something that one side of politics should be taking credit for; it is something that we should all be united in taking credit for, because it is something that is overdue for all of us—not just for the community that I represent, the Jewish community; not just for my family; not just for my wife’s family, who are survivors of the Holocaust; not just for her grandmother, who when she came here to Australia hid her Jewish identity; and not just for her father, who up until the age of his bar mitzvah did not know he was Jewish and who went to school and then finally when he asked, ‘Who are those people that wear a kippah or a yarmulke on their heads?’, his mother said, ‘They’re Jewish and so are you’.

This is a very important day. We have heard already from members about the rise of antisemitism. We have heard that only 24 hours after the introduction of this bill the Nazi swastika was plastered right throughout my electorate of Caulfield and on the building of the Beth Weizmann centre, the very group that actually came here and stood with the minister making the announcement. It is for that reason—not that we are trying to play politics—we support this. We absolutely support this. It is for that reason that we just say, ‘We need to do it now. The time to act is now’. We are united in ensuring that we educate.

We have been talking about this for a number of years. In 2020 we, the Liberal-Nationals, announced that we would call on the ban if we were elected. We were about to introduce a private members bill into the Parliament, and then I worked with the then multicultural minister, the member for Richmond. Together we said, ‘We’re not going to introduce a private members bill; we will work together’, and we made that undertaking. I worked with the member for St Albans, the member for Brighton and a number of members of the Legal and Social Issues Committee to work through the important work to get to where we have today, so we do this united.

We do this with the Indian, Hindu and Jain communities, and they are understanding of the importance. I met with a number of their leaders to understand that their symbol was hijacked by Hitler, was hijacked by the Nazis. A symbol of peace and a symbol of integrity was hijacked and used for evil. It is their symbol, and it is for that reason we should ensure that those people that use it as a symbol for evil should face consequences when they use it. It is for that reason we need to act immediately so that for those people, who within 24 hours sought to use that symbol to attack vulnerable people, there are consequences for doing that.

In 2019 we saw the increase of antisemitic attacks right throughout the state, and they continue to rise. We have an aged care facility in my electorate, and that facility had a swastika painted on the front gates. Many of those people living in that centre, Emmy Monash in Hawthorn Road, are in fact Holocaust survivors. On the front of their home there was a swastika—the very symbol that they escaped—being used again to traumatise them.

It is for that reason that we all stand here today united, to ensure that this symbol of evil is not used against them and against all, not just the Jewish community—against the LGBTI community, against the Chinese community during the pandemic. In fact many of those that seek to use it attack those vulnerable people that cannot defend themselves. People ask me about banning things and say, ‘Well, if you ban the Nazi swastika, where do you stop?’. There is no other symbol that has the evil of killing some 6 million Jews during the Holocaust and seeking the final solution to wipe out Jews back then. That symbol being used today, a symbol from the past with that evil being used today—that is why we must do this. That is why we must stand united to do this.

In the little town of Beulah a flag was flown outside a Holocaust survivor’s house. I contacted the mayor at the time and said, ‘I believe there is a swastika that is being flown in your community’, and the mayor said at the time, ‘Yes, and we think there is a Holocaust survivor that lives in the town’. She did not know at the time it was next door. I rang that gentleman, who was in his late 70s. He actually came from my area of Caulfield and he decided during his retirement days, ‘I’m just going to get away from it all and move to a town of less than 2000 people and enjoy my retirement days in Beulah’. He never thought, after escaping the Holocaust to come to Caulfield and then go to Beulah, that someone would actually use that symbol again against him. I said to him, ‘What can we do to support you?’. His answer was, ‘It will be okay. I just won’t go outside’. He did not want to face it, and nor should he. When the police tried to work to get the symbol, the flag, taken down—and, I might say, it was great work along with the council—we had to bluff our way through to get that flag taken down. We tried to hide the fact that there was a survivor in that town. Unfortunately, as we know, media tend to find this stuff out. But again, that individual should never have had to go through that—no-one should.

So when people ask me about banning things and they say ‘Where do you stop?’, you stop when you hurt people. You do not allow people that are vulnerable to be targeted. Hate in all forms should be stamped out. I am a big believer in freedoms. I am a big believer in being able to express yourself and not censoring people, but not when it is targeting people who cannot defend themselves and not when it is something that is used in the way that this is used, an evil symbol like this, to target individuals.

Yes, we need to educate people, and I commend the work that is being done in our schools. I commend the work that was started by the former Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, to ensure that every state and every territory in Australia would have a Holocaust museum to educate people. We heard the Minister for Multicultural Affairs talk about this and the fact that these evils were not so long ago. The unfortunate thing is that 25 per cent of people in Victoria are unaware of what the Holocaust even was. Twenty-five per cent are unaware of the forced extermination, of Hitler and his evil regime. We must learn from the past to ensure these things never happen again. We must educate our young. We must educate them to ensure that this stuff does not happen again.

That is why this is such an important step for all of us. That is why everybody that stands here today, no matter from what side of politics, should be united, because we are, and should be proud, because that is what we are. We are taking a bold step here, a really bold step. It is long overdue. I thank the member for Malvern for the work that he has done. I thank the minister for the work that she has done. I thank the Premier, the Leader of the Opposition, all the committee members and everybody that has had a hand in this. This is a really proud moment for all of us. The member for Brighton, who is in the chamber with me, worked with me on a lot of this stuff, through a lot of the details, met with community members and went down to the Holocaust centre time and time again and met with survivors with tears in their eyes—tears of joy in their eyes—to know that they would not be targeted again because we would have their back and we would stand up against this hate.

That is why we can be proud. That is why this is so important. That is why there are times for politics and fighting and arguing—we always have the opportunity to have those points of difference—but that time is not now. The time now is to stand united and proud. The time now is to get this done. And the time now is to do it now. I do say that, yes, we need to educate, yes, we need to inform and, yes, we need to ensure that the symbol of the Hindu, Jain and Buddhist communities is protected and given back but not used for evil, because when it is hijacked for evil, as it was by Hitler and as it is now, there need to be consequences. That is why even though the amendment before us today has moved from 12 months to six months—a step in the right direction—the time to act is now, not in six months time. Do not fire the gun without the bullets. What we have done is we have given the powers of telling people we are going to ban something without the consequences, and that is why I say and that is why I plead: let us get this done, but let us get this done today.

Mr HAMER (Box Hill) (13:51): I too rise to make a contribution on the Summary Offences Amendment (Nazi Symbol Prohibition) Bill 2022, and I do so very proudly as a son of a Holocaust survivor and a grandson of a Holocaust survivor, on both sides, and I do so in memory of all of my family who were killed during the Holocaust and all of those others in the Jewish community and many other communities who were killed at the hands of the Nazis. But I also do so with a heavy heart because of the fact that such an offence is actually required in this day and age and is needed to combat the continued racist vilification and in particular the antisemitism that continues around the world and that we continue to see particularly in our own state.

A number of incidents have already been mentioned, but the ones that come to mind are—I think it was in 2019 as well—where a number of people put on fake Nazi uniforms with the Hakenkreuz on their arms and walked into a number of stores and walked around the streets in regional Victoria and of course, as has been mentioned, you could hardly move around the electorates of Kooyong or Macnamara and not come across a defaced sign of the local members of those places. And what did those members have in common? It was that they were both Jewish members of Parliament. And make no mistake: the reason why this symbol was being used to deface these members of Parliament was that they were Jewish and that the symbol continues to be used as a symbol of hate and a symbol of continued antisemitism and vilification.

I do want to just reflect a little bit about what it means for me from a personal perspective. As I raised in my inaugural speech, my father was born in prewar Poland. He was a very young boy when the Nazis invaded Poland. His family moved to a small town by the name of Staszow in south-west Poland, where the struggle for survival was real. Shootings and beatings on the street were a regular occurrence. But in hindsight they were the good days, if they could be compared like that. That was until the all the Jews in the town were forced into a ghetto, and then the word got around that the ghetto was to be ‘liquidated’, which is a terribly euphemistic word, where all the Jews were going to be moved off to the nearby death camps. Fortunately my father, who at that stage was probably all of about five years old, managed to escape the ghetto before the liquidation with his mother and his sister and some broader members of the extended family and then went to hide in the forest for two, 2½ years.

At any moment he could have been given up. You can imagine as a five-year-old boy how hard it would be just to keep quiet in those times. We complain it is a cold day today, but it is nothing like a cold Polish winter, where it can get down to minus 30, minus 40 degrees, with very few clothes and very little food. They had to rummage from place to place and at any point in time could have been given up, and life would have ended and I certainly would not be here today.

I also want to reflect briefly on my mother’s family. Both of my mother’s parents were born in Berlin, either side of the First World War, and Berlin in the 1920s was a vibrant cultural place—it had been recovering from the First World War. But as the 1930s progressed and as the Nazis took over, the edicts against the Jewish community became stronger and stronger. Fortunately at that time Jews were allowed to leave Germany, and my grandfather was able to get to America in 1934. My grandmother came to Australia in late 1938, and her uncles waited until almost the very end. They saw Kristallnacht firsthand while they were in Berlin, and they came out, I think it was, in April or May 1939, so just before the start of the war and before any opportunity to escape was gone. I am enormously grateful for the gift that they have given me and the opportunities that they themselves and their parents in particular took at that time, taking journeys into the unknown just to make sure that they could survive.

I reflect back particularly on those days and how that relates to this bill at hand. When you look back at the archival footage that you see, particularly of Germany in the 1930s, you see things such as the Nuremberg rallies and the symbolism of those rallies. I think the member for Caulfield touched on it, and he said it was a hijacking of the ancient symbol of the swastika—and that is exactly what it was. They used that symbol as a symbol of hate, as a symbol of what they saw as Aryan supremacy, to create an inferior class of people amongst the Jewish community as well as amongst other communities, and that was driven into the population day in, day out. Through the archival footage you see how street after street after street would hang these flags. Every artefact that related to any part of the government would have this symbol, and it was a symbol to reinforce that control and that idea of Aryan supremacy over others. So this continued hatred and antisemitic behaviour was something that fed right through the entire Nazi regime until it was defeated in 1945.

I do want to talk briefly about education as well, and continued education on the Holocaust is crucially important. Particularly I have been really pleased that this government has introduced compulsory Holocaust education at year 10 level across every school in the state, and I think it is so critically important that students of that age learn about the Holocaust and about what it made and what it meant for antisemitism.

Business interrupted under sessional orders.