Australia’s most populous state took a major step toward banning Nazi symbols on Tuesday as the lower house of the New South Wales parliament passed a bill that would criminalize their display.
The Upper House must approve the bill for it to become a law.
Victoria, the country’s second most populous state, in June became the first in Australia to pass a law banning the public display of the Nazi swastika.
The states of Queensland and Tasmania have announced similar laws, which would mean that half of Australia’s eight states and territories and the majority of the Australian population would be banned from displaying Nazi symbols.
New South Wales Attorney General Mark Speakman told parliament on Tuesday that the Nazi swastika harmed and harassed members of the community, including Judaism. In 2020, NSW police received 31 reports of a Nazi flag display from a house near a synagogue in Sydney, one of them.
“Disgusting and reprehensible conduct is completely unacceptable in our community,” Speakman said.
Using or displaying Nazi swastika flags or artifacts is prohibited by law.
The law would allow the use of the symbol for religious and educational purposes. The swastika is an ancient and sacred symbol for Buddhists, Hindus, Jains and other religious communities.
Individuals would face up to 12 months in prison or a $11,000 ($7,670) fine for breaking the laws, while corporations would face a $55,000 ($38,350) fine.
In amending the law, it will be necessary to review the laws within three and a half years of their coming into force.
Victoria is fined 22,000 Australian dollars ($15,340) and 12 months in prison for displaying a Nazi swastika.