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Watch: Liberal senator says Australia’s harsh new ‘hate symbols’ laws need to be expanded

The Coalition intends to call for a review of Australia’s new legislation banning the Nazi salute and symbols, to see whether they need to be expanded.

Liberal Senator Michaelia Cash told the Senate last month she predicted further changes to the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Prohibited Hate Symbols and Other Measures) Bill 2023, which came into effect this week.

“I foreshadow that the coalition will be moving an amendment to allow for a review of these laws – which, in our view, should be conducted by a pre-eminent member of the Jewish community – to ensure that these laws are doing what they are meant to do,” she said.

“We may well find as a result of that review that these narrow laws, as drafted by the government, need to be expanded to properly deal with anti-Semitism in Australia.”

Under the new federal legislation is it is now a criminal offence punishable by up to one year in jail to perform the Hitler salute or display the swastika or SS symbol in public. The ban also covers the sale and trade of those symbols.

The ban does not apply to religious uses of the symbols, and there are exemptions for journalists, academics and law enforcement.

The legislation also criminalises the display of the prohibited symbols in documents, films, videos or television programs that are available to the public on the internet, and includes new offences relating to “violent extremist material”.

These offences, which include accessing, publishing, and possessing “violent extremist material” on a carriage service, are punishable by five years in jail.

While giving the bill’s second reading in March, Ms Cash said: “Some may complain that this legislation will limit freedom of expression. It is important to note that while the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights protects freedom of expression it does allow for freedom of expression to be limited to protect the rights or reputations of others, national security, public order, or public health or morals.”

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus, who is Jewish, said on Monday the symbols and salute ban sent a message that “there is no place in Australia for acts and symbols that glorify the horrors of the Holocaust and terrorist acts”.

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