THE HON MARK DREYFUS KC MP
MEMBER FOR ISAACS
No place for evil symbols that glorify the Holocaust
In July 1939 my father, George Dreyfus, arrived from Germany at Melbourne’s Station Pier as a stateless person.
He was not quite 11 years old, but he was forced to flee an evil regime which had stripped him of his citizenship.
He was one of the lucky ones who found refuge in Australia from the Nazis. But my great grandparents did not escape, and are counted among the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust.
While the atrocities of that time are still within living memory, on the streets of Melbourne racists were openly brandishing the symbols of the Nazi regime and celebrate its repugnant ideology. In the same city, my home, where my father found refuge.
Today the Australian Government is making clear there is no place in Australia for symbols that glorify the horrors of the Holocaust.
And there is no place for those who seek to profit from the trade in these evil symbols, or use them to promote their hatred.
Next week in Parliament I will introduce the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Prohibited Hate Symbols and Other Measures) Bill which will criminalise public displays of the Nazi Hakenkreuz and the Schutzstaffel, or SS, hate symbols and ban the trade in these items.
In doing this we send the clearest possible signal to those who seek to spread hatred, violence and anti-Semitism that we find these actions repugnant and, as a decent, inclusive society we will not tolerate this.
We will not allow some in our community to openly mock the memory of the millions murdered by the Nazis, those who survived and still live among us, and the brave Australians who fought and died to defeat this evil in World War II.
And we will no longer allow people to profit from the display and sale of items which celebrate the Nazis and glorify this evil ideology.
This is not just a demonstration of our values - it’s also about protecting our community from those who use these symbols as recruiting tools and a gateway to violence and hatred.
A ban at a Commonwealth level will promote tolerance and inclusion, and support law enforcement agencies to intervene earlier to disrupt recruitment. It will also make clear that we have a strong determination as a nation to stamp out this abhorrent behaviour, no matter where it occurs.
The cowardly masked men who stand on the steps of the Victorian Parliament with their despicable flags and armbands, or who scrawl Nazi symbols on synagogues and Jewish schools, do so to intimidate and scare people.
As a responsible government, we have taken some time to get this bill right. It is vital this legislation is well-targeted and effective. It is a product of careful consideration and consultation, including with law enforcement and with those targeted by this hatred.
Tackling this scourge should be above politics.
We are working with our state and territory colleagues and their law enforcement agencies to ensure our laws keep our communities safe and complement existing and ongoing efforts to stamp out hatred.
Governments in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory have legislated or committed to ban Nazi symbols.
Australia’s diversity is our greatest strength.
To those who are targeted because of their faith, we stand with you.
For those who face abuse simply for being who they are, we stand with you.
We will act to keep you safe and free to live your lives without fear.
Thursday, 8 June 2023
Published in Australian Jewish News