Page 3670 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 23 November 2022
This new offence will reduce the opportunity for racism and vilification and send a strong message that the ACT government, and our community generally, will not tolerate the public display of Nazi symbols and the ideology of hate that they represent.
The new offence will support the rights of minorities, including the right to culture under the Human Rights Act 2004, by reducing the likelihood that members of the community will feel intimidated or threatened and therefore unable to engage in their own religious beliefs and culture.
The new offence will engage and limit the right to freedom of expression under the Human Rights Act. But this limitation is restricted, as the bill provides for exceptions to the offence where a person displays a Nazi symbol reasonably and in good faith for one of the following purposes: for a genuine academic, artistic, religious or scientific purpose; for a genuine cultural or educational purpose; in making or publishing a fair and accurate report of an event or matter of public interest; and in opposition to fascism, Nazism, neo-Nazism or other related ideologies.
Examples include where a bookshop displays for sale an educational textbook on World War II, which has a Hakenkreuz on the cover, or where a person displays a flag of Nazi Germany with a marking through it to signal the person’s opposition to Nazism. The bill also provides the power to a police officer to direct a person to remove a Nazi symbol from display if the officer reasonably believes that the person is committing the offence of public display of a Nazi symbol. These powers will enable effective enforcement of the offence and will minimise the harm caused by any display of Nazi symbols.
The introduction of this offence will bring the ACT in line with Victoria and New South Wales, which have recently adopted similar offences. I note that the Queensland and Tasmanian governments have also committed to introduce an offence to prohibit the public display of Nazi symbols.
The second new offence introduced by this bill is the offence of unauthorised entry of a motor vehicle. This offence requires proof that: a person has entered a motor vehicle; that the vehicle belongs to someone else; and the person does not have the consent of the owner to enter the vehicle. The maximum penalty provided is 10 penalty units—that is, $1,600—which is commensurate with the level of culpability required to prove the offence.
This offence is proposed after it was recommended by the Chief Police Officer. After it was determined that DNA evidence of a person having been in a stolen car was not sufficient to establish that a person had in fact stolen the car, it was evident that there was still a need to recognise the criminal culpability of entering a car without authorisation. This offence makes progress to filling this gap.
This is a lower level offence, intended to address conduct which in and of itself is a violation of another person’s property and, in many cases, their private and personal space, but which may also be part of more serious offending—for example, involving the destruction or theft of a motor vehicle. It is important that ACT Policing are able to respond to the conduct of unauthorised entry. The offence will not capture