Calls for Victorian Government to Outlaw ‘Glorification of Nazism’

Victoria’s Jewish leaders and community members are questioning why a group of more than 20 neo-Nazis were allowed to march through the streets of Ballarat recently, amid calls to outlaw the “glorification of Nazism” in Victoria. The men, dressed in black with balaclavas and sunglasses, paraded down the main street of the central Victorian city behind a banner reading “Australia for the white man National Socialist Network”. They chanted “Hail victory” and “Australia for the white man” and posed for photographs in front of the Eureka monument, on what was the 169th anniversary of the Eureka Stockade. The display came amid a spike in anti-Semitic attacks in the wake of the war between Israel and Hamas. Chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission Dr Dvir Abramovich said members of the Victorian Jewish community have been left to question why this protest was allowed to continue, describing the march as a “despicable display of depravity” that belongs in 1930s Germany. “Hitler must be smiling as he sees these modern-day guard of Auschwitz invading the streets of Ballarat trying to sow fear and intimidation,” Dr Abramovich said.

“Imagine the grief a Holocaust survivor in Ballarat or their children would have felt confronted with this outrage, which they probably thought they would never see in their lifetime. “I have been contacted by many people in the Jewish community rightly asking why Victoria Police is allowing these hate-marches to take place, without arresting these ‘Final Solutionist’ for breach of the peace or other breaches of the law.” Dr Abramovich has called for the state government to consider “outlawing the promotion and glorification of Nazism”. Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council Executive Director Dr Colin Rubenstein said the group clearly intended to “spread fear and division”. “If Victorian laws were broken, then those involved in the march should feel the full brunt of the legal system,” Dr Rubenstein said. “Put simply, to see neo-Nazis march in Ballarat is profoundly un-Australian and an affront to the victims of Nazism and to those who gave their lives fighting Nazism. “And if the police lacked the powers to prevent it, our laws should be toughened up to give them the powers they need to do so.”

In a statement, Victoria Police said a 15-year-old boy who was not attached to the demonstration group is assisting police with investigations into a Nazi salute. “As a matter of course, police will review any vision or CCTV from the day. Our top priority was keeping the peace to ensure the event did not impact the safety of the broader community. Everyone has the right to feel safe in our community regardless of who they are,” Victoria Police said in a statement. “We understand incidents of anti-Semitism can leave communities feeling targeted, threatened, and vulnerable. Hate and prejudice has no place in our society.” The Allan government earlier this year passed legislation to ban the Nazi salute, and other gestures and symbols used by the Nazi Party, with penalties of up to $23,000 and/or 12 months’ imprisonment for those found guilty of engaging in such behaviour. Ballarat Mayor Des Hudson described the march as “absolutely appalling behaviour” and said the protesters’ beliefs “couldn’t be further away from the Eureka story” that the men may have been trying to align themselves with, one that he describes as a story of multiculturalism.

Where the men weren’t engaging in any unlawful behaviour, Cr Hudson said the police response was “probably a reasonable approach” as the group were swiftly escorted out of Ballarat “as quickly as they came in”. Cr Hudson said the men were “cowardly” as they hid their identities behind balaclavas. Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan has also condemned the behaviour of the group “in the strongest possible terms”. “We condemn this hateful behaviour at all times and in the strongest possible terms,” Ms Allan said in a statement released the day after the march. “Ballarat is one of the birthplaces of our state’s rich multiculturalism – people came to the gold fields from every corner of the world in search of a better life. “Every Victorian deserves to live free from fear of racism and bigotry. These disgraceful and cowardly acts have no place in Victoria – that’s why we have banned the Nazi salute and stand ready to take further action to stamp out this disgusting behaviour.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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