‘Urgent’: Call for PM to act on Nazis

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has said the Coalition will support government legislation to ban the display of Nazi symbols in Australia. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

Peter Dutton has called on Labor to fast-track new laws to ban the display of Nazi symbols after a parliamentary committee recommended the federal government act with urgency on the matter.

The opposition introduced its own Bill in the Senate to outlaw the use of Nazi symbols, but a Senate committee examining the legislation has found the draft laws weren’t watertight.

The Greens-Labor majority committee ultimately recommended the opposition’s legislation not be passed even though it supported the intent of the proposal.

Instead, the committee recommended the government consider introducing its own legislation to impose a nationwide ban and to do so with urgency.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has thrown his support behind new laws banning Nazi symbols. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

Speaking to reporters the day after the committee released its report, the Opposition Leader said he was “perplexed” as to why the Albanese government hadn’t already acted to ban Nazi symbols.

“The government has the full resources of the Attorney-General’s department, they have scores of lawyers, they can come up with a Bill today,” he said on Friday.

“Frankly, they could draft a bill in 24 hours. They haven’t done and I would encourage them to do it.”

Mr Dutton said the Coalition would support the government’s Bill, ensuring its passage through parliament.

“I don’t want to see any encouragement given to people who are preaching hate and those who are worshipping at some ideology which is twisted and sick,” he said.

“The government should get their act together here and send a very clear message that we won’t tolerate the display of those symbols.”

Coalition senator Michaelia Cash introduced her own legislation. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

Under the private member’s bill put forward by shadow attorney-general Michaelia Cash, people who knowingly display Nazi symbols without a reasonable excuse would have faced criminal charges punishable with 12 months’ imprisonment and fines of up to $27,500.

But the committee examining her legislation said it had too many concerns about the proposal to recommend it be passed, including that it didn’t adequately define what a Nazi symbol was and that the test of knowingly displaying a Nazi symbol might not have satisfied a court.

Senator Cash introduced the legislation in March after a group of neo-Nazis attended an anti-transgender rally in Melbourne and performed the Sieg Heil salute on the steps of Victorian state parliament.

British biological sex campaigner Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull — who also goes by the name of Posie Parker — organised the event as part of her Australian and New Zealand speaking tour. She has said the neo-Nazi group gatecrashed the rally and were not invited.

Neo-Nazis gathered publicly in Melbourne again last weekend, staging an anti-immigration rally outside Victoria state parliament where they clashed with anti-fascist counter-protesters.

The government had already signalled it supports banning Nazi symbols at a federal level and that it was likely to come up with alternative legislation of its own if it didn’t end up supporting Senator Cash’s Bill.

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles, who is acting in the top job while Anthony Albanese is in Japan for the G7 summit, said on Friday there was no place in Australia for “disturbing” Nazi symbols.

“We need to be building a country which is diverse and safe for everyone,” he told reporters in Queensland.

“Those symbols represent the absolute opposite of what Australia stands for.”

NSW and Victoria both banned the display of Nazi symbols under their own legislation in 2022.