Terrorist symbols, the Nazi hakenkreuz, the sig rune and the Nazi salute represent an extreme hate which has inspired some of the worst atrocities in human history. It is a hate which has fed genocide, terrorism, slavery and crimes against humanity. It is a hate which on 7 October inspired one of the most egregious and evil terror attacks in modern history against the people of Israel. It is a hate which has festered and flourished in the dark recesses of the online world. And it is a hate which has now moved into the public sphere in Australia’s capital cities and splashed across mainstream media. Last week we had kids skipping school to call for Israel’s annihilation. ‘From the river to the sea’, they cried. We had teachers, bureaucrats and left-wing media encouraging children to invoke violence against Jewish people.
Mr WALLACE (Fisher) (10:11): I acknowledge the member for Macnamara and his heartfelt speech. I think that Jewish Australians across this country should be very proud of the efforts that he has made in representing them at this very difficult and dark time, not just around the world but in Australia.
It won’t come as any great surprise to you or others that I support this bill, the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Prohibited Hate Symbols and Other Measures) Bill 2023. As the deputy chair of the PJCIS, I was instrumentally involved in the report which examined the bill. Protecting Australians is our utmost responsibility in this place. It’s the responsibility of the member for Macnamara, it’s my responsibility and it’s the responsibility of the Prime Minister and his government. In many ways the government is falling short in that duty of protecting Australians, but I’ll return to that in a moment.
I am encouraged that, by and large, both major parties are standing together to see this prohibited hate symbols bill through. It has brought into question the character of our country as a nation of many faiths, and it has challenged our approach to balancing the freedoms of speech and association, the preservation of our history, and protecting the oppressed and the marginalised. I think that we’ve struck the right balance in many ways, and I commend my colleagues on both sides of the House for their work in relation to the bill.
As we outlined in the committee, violent extremists use symbols to signal their ideology to a wide-reaching audience, to recruit and inspire behaviours from like-minded individuals and to establish in-group belonging. The changes outlined in this bill will go some way—albeit not far enough—in stemming the flow of violent extremism.
The legislation creates four new offences. It will be unlawful to display prohibited symbols in a public place. A public place is any place in which the symbol is capable of being seen. That means that, although the symbol might not actually be seen, if it is possible for it to be seen it will be an offence. It will be unlawful to trade goods that depict or contain a prohibited symbol. That includes selling, leasing, exchanging or renting goods; preparing or packaging goods for supply with the intention of selling; transporting goods with the intention of selling; guarding or concealing goods with the intention of selling; and possessing goods with the intention of selling. It will be unlawful to fail to comply with a direction to cease the display of prohibited symbols in public.
A new offence is also created to respond to the increase in the use of mobile devices. This makes it unlawful to use a carriage service to deal with violent extremist material, including the access, transmission, solicitation, possession or control of violent extremist material. It also prohibits symbols that are variants of the listed symbols or that are likely to be confused with or mistaken for one of those symbols. The bill strengthens penalties for those who advocate terrorism. The legislation also allows the PJCIS to streamline reviews into listed terrorist organisations, allowing own motion reviews where the organisation in question meet legislative thresholds.
‘What symbols will be banned under this bill?’ I hear you ask. The question is: which of them will be prohibited? Symbols of listed terrorist organisations will be banned. Groups like al-Qaeda and Hamas could be included. These are groups who have perpetrated some of the worst crimes seen in generations: enslaving children and women into terror and sexual servitude and committing attacks in cities and towns across the world, most recently against Israeli women and children. Their terror continues to impact Australians both at home and abroad.
The Nazi hakenkreuz will be banned, although the unbent swastika, which is an ancient eastern symbol will remain protected. The Nazi hakenkreuz was adopted by the Third Reich as the official symbol of the Nazi party. It represents the persecution and systematic murder of more than six million Jewish people, as well as other groups oppressed because of their sexual orientation, religion, disability, political views and ethnicity. It has been a great affront to the Buddhist, Hindu and Jains people, whose ancient use of the unbent swastika has been misappropriated by the Nazis.
The PJCIS acknowledged similar evidence in relation to the Islamic State flag. Muslim groups raised concerns that the words displayed on the Islamic State flag constitute fundamental principles of the Islamic faith.
A division having been called in the House of Representatives—
Sitting suspended from 10:1 8 to 11:0 3
Mr WALLACE: The Islamic State flag features the shahada and the seal of the Prophet Mohammed, but these are central tenets to the Islamic faith. Banning them would be akin to banning the cross or the crucifix to Christians or the Star of David to Jews. That’s why the committee recommended removing the Islamic State flag from the list of prohibited symbols, while leaving room to ban other symbols of listed terrorist organisations, because it is what is contained on the flag—the shahada—which is so central to the Islamic faith. I’m glad to see that the parliament has the opportunity now to support that recommendation.
The Nazi double-sig rune will also be banned. Many people may know that as the two lightning rods. The symbol was adopted by the Schutzstaffel, a Nazi paramilitary organisation which was responsible for some of the worst atrocities leading up to and during World War II.
A division having been called in the House of Representatives—
Sitting suspended from 11:0 4 to 11:12
Mr WALLACE: The Nazi double-sig rune was adopted by the Schutzstaffel, a Nazi paramilitary organisation which was responsible for some of the worst atrocities leading up to and during World War II. I’m pleased that, at the eleventh hour, Labor have finally caved in to join the campaign of the coalition to ban the Nazi salute. These symbols and gestures have been used in coordinated and effective propaganda campaigns evoking fear and staining the pages of our history with the most brutal violence. As I said in my additional comments to the PJCIS report on this legislation:
The rise of Hitler’s Third Reich and his ideological quest that the German people would become the “Master Race” remains a stain on the history of humanity and will remain ever thus. It is a period of history in the 20th Century that until very recently, was almost universally recognised as an era that must never be repeated.
Terrorist symbols, the Nazi hakenkreuz, the sig rune and the Nazi salute represent an extreme hate which has inspired some of the worst atrocities in human history. It is a hate which has fed genocide, terrorism, slavery and crimes against humanity. It is a hate which on 7 October inspired one of the most egregious and evil terror attacks in modern history against the people of Israel. It is a hate which has festered and flourished in the dark recesses of the online world. And it is a hate which has now moved into the public sphere in Australia’s capital cities and splashed across mainstream media. Last week we had kids skipping school to call for Israel’s annihilation. ‘From the river to the sea’, they cried. We had teachers, bureaucrats and left-wing media encouraging children to invoke violence against Jewish people. I am ashamed that this kind of behaviour would happen in Australia, but, as the old proverb goes, there is nothing new under the sun.
Seventy-five years ago, the world met at Evian in France to discuss options to protect European Jewish people from the Nazis. I was recently in New York and DC, and I attended the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. To my shame, there was a plaque in the Holocaust museum. Seventy-five years ago, when asked about taking Jewish refugees, Australia said, ‘As we have no racial problem, we are not desirous of importing one.’ That was our response to protecting Jews 75 years ago. In response to a globalising economy, Australia introduced the White Australia policy. In 2005, thousands of Australians participated in protests targeting Middle Eastern looking people, which led to the Cronulla riots. Our universities continue to facilitate antisemitic activities and material while Jewish students face ongoing discrimination. Attacks on synagogues and Jewish Australians are on the rise, with the Executive Council of Australian Jewry reporting an increase of up to 482 per cent of acts of antisemitism in the last seven weeks alone. We have seen protests across our capital cities where people invoke extremist ideologies and symbols, and online platforms have seen the most heinous antisemitism and extremism targeting young people, much like other radical groups. The reality is that the problem is getting worse. Banning these symbols is one step towards stemming the flow of propaganda used by radical groups in public places and online. This is about keeping people safe, disrupting hate and weeding out extremists. It’s also about protecting survivors from the trauma that they have experienced.
Earlier this year, the coalition introduced legislation to ban the display, use and exercise of Nazi symbols, including the Nazi salute. I want to pay tribute to my friend Julian Leeser, the member for Berowra, for his courage and leadership on this issue. While the coalition agrees with the bill we are debating, I’m frustrated that it took a sustained campaign from the coalition to see the Nazi salute included in this bill. Labor initially claimed that banning the Nazi salute wouldn’t be appropriate for the Commonwealth, stating that it is not an appropriate matter for state and territory law. Australians are fed up with this Labor government—always on the back foot, always behind and always playing catch-up when it comes to our national economy and our national security. Once again, it took the opposition to embarrass the Albanese Labor government into action to keep Australians safe.
The issue here is that the federal Labor government do not have political intestinal fortitude. Australian families are struggling, businesses are closing and the world is in a fragile state, and Australians, particularly Jewish Australians, are worried. They are worried about going to school. They are worried about wearing school uniforms. They are worried about wearing religious regalia that would identify them as Jewish. But now is not the time for politics or trickery. Quit the blaming, the gameplay and the ideological fancies. Let’s get on and ensure that the rise of antisemitism across the world does not find a home in Australia—not in 2023, not again, not now, not ever.
In closing, I want to encourage all of my parliamentary colleagues, including the member for Moreton, who’s sitting opposite me, to join the Israel Allies Caucus. The Israel Allies Caucus is a group of parliamentarians in 50 countries who stand with the people of Israel. I’ve been asked to chair the Israel Allies Caucus in Australia, a group that will hopefully be bipartisan. I invite the member for Moreton to join it. It is a group of parliamentarians across the world who stand with the people of Israel and stand with them at this darkest hour. (Time expired).