Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes said: “This disgraceful behavior shows exactly why the ban is needed. No one deserves to be subject to this hateful display. Let’s be clear: this sort of stunt will not deter our efforts to stamp out hate and give it no room to grow in Victoria.”
Once the bill comes into effect, those caught intentionally displaying the Nazi symbol in public – including in graffiti and stickers – in the face of a maximum of 12 months in jail, a $22,000 penalty or both.
Deputy Victorian Liberal leader and Caulfield MP David Southwick renewed his calls for the government to implement the ban immediately instead of waiting a year after the bill passes parliament.
However, the government has said the 12-month timeframe is needed for a public education campaign to raise awareness of the origins of the religious and cultural swastika used by members of the Buddhist, Hindu and Jain faith communities.
One of the properties plastered with the swastika stickers, some of which said, “You censor the truth”, was the Beth Weizmann Community Centre, while Israeli ambassador Amir Maimon was inside.
The men also made a lewd gesture towards the building’s CCTV cameras, according to Zeddy Lawrence, the executive director of Zionism Victoria, which owns the property.
“It’s well known that anti-Semitism is currently on the rise, and this latest incident clearly shows why the ban the government announced yesterday on the public display of [Nazi] swastikas … is so important in combating this scourge,” Lawrence said.
There has been a resurgence of neo-Nazi and other far-right groups in recent years, spurred on by disinformation surrounding the pandemic and other global events.
Daniel Aghion from the Jewish Community Council of Victoria said on Wednesday there had been a 37 percent rise in anti-Semitism across the country in a year.
Australian Security Intelligence Organization Director General Mike Burgess revealed last year that up to 50 per cent of its counter-terrorism surveillance was being directed to neo-Nazi and similar groups, up from 10 to 15 per cent in 2016.
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