Australia's government plans legislation to ban swastikas and other Nazi symbols nationwide due to an increase in far-right activity, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said on Thursday.
While most Australian states already ban such Nazi symbols, the federal law would go further by also banning the trade in such material, Dreyfus said.
“There's been a rise in this kind of violent far right activity. We think it's time for there to be a federal law which I'll be bringing to the Parliament next week,” Dreyfus told Nine Network television.
We've got responsibility for import and export. We want to see an end to trading in this kind of memorabilia or any items which bear those Nazi symbols,” Dreyfus said. “There's no place in Australia for spreading of hatred and violence.”
The Labor Party government controls the House of Representatives but not the Senate, and it's unclear when a ban might pass or take effect. The law would include a penalty for people displaying Nazi symbols of up to a year in prison.
Displaying symbols for religious, educational or artistic purposes would be among a range of exclusions from the ban. It will not affect the use of the swastika for people observing Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.
Dreyfus, who is Jewish, said the number of neo-Nazis was small, but the main domestic spy agency, the Australian Security Intelligence Organization, had raised concerns about their activity in the past three years.
“This is a very small number of people. I'm hoping it's getting small and it will eventually disappear,” he told Australian Broadcasting Corp