Australia’s government is planning legislation to ban swastikas and other Nazi symbols across the country due to increased far-right activity, Attorney General Mark Dreyfus said on Thursday.
While most Australian states already ban such Nazi symbols, federal law would go further by also banning trade in such material, Dreyfus said.
“There has been an increase in this type of violent far-right activity. We think it is time for there to be a federal law that I will take to Parliament next week,» Dreyfus told Nine Network television.
We have the responsibility of import and export. We want to see an end to the trade in these kinds of memorabilia or any items bearing those Nazi symbols,» Dreyfus said. «There is no place in Australia for the spread of hate and violence.»
The Labor Party government controls the House of Representatives but not the Senate, and it is unclear when a ban might be passed or take effect. The law would include a penalty of up to one year in prison for people displaying Nazi symbols.
Displaying symbols for religious, educational or artistic purposes would be one of the exclusions of the ban. It will not affect the use of the swastika for people who observe Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.
Dreyfus, who is Jewish, said the number of neo-Nazis was small, but the main national spy agency, the Australian Security Intelligence Organization, had raised concerns about their activity over the past three years.
“This is a very small number of people. I hope it’s getting small and will eventually go away,» he told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.