August 2023 | First Australian state to outlaw Nazi salute
Following neo-Nazi protests earlier this year, Tasmania became the first Australian state to pass a law on 16 August to outlaw the display or performance of Nazi salutes and symbols. This legislation, set to take effect later this year, imposes hefty fines and up to a three-month prison term for first-time offenders. Minister of Justice Elise Archer acknowledges that such symbols and gestures "promote hate against not just Jewish people but also other minority groups." The bill includes exceptions to protect the swastika's use for religious and educational purposes unrelated to Nazi ideology. Simultaneously, Victoria, which banned the Nazi symbol last year, is progressing with a salute ban. Leading Jewish organizations have hailed Tasmania's move, hoping it encourages the federal government (currently considering a proposal to ban a few specific symbols nationwide) to follow suit.
June 2023 | National referendum for Indigenous Voice to the parliament moves ahead
On 19 June, Australia’s Senate approved legislation to hold a referendum on indigenous rights, clearing the last procedural obstacle toward a public vote that would acknowledge the indigenous population in the constitution and enhance their representation in parliament. The date for the referendum is yet to be set, however the legislation mandates that it is held no sooner than two months as well as no later than six months from 19 June . The Indigenous Voice to the Parliament, also known as the Voice, is a proposed federal advisory body that will be made up of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, chosen by Indigenous communities.
May 2023 | South Australia introduces harsh anti-protest bill
The South Australian government adopted a bill on 18 May increasing maximum fines from $750 to $50,000 or three months of jail time for persons obstructing the free passage of a public place. Human rights groups have criticized the hasty passage of the bill by both the lower and upper houses without public consultation, as well as raised concerns that the bill infringes on the right to peaceful protest. The law was prompted by three days of protests after climate activists took action outside an annual gathering of fossil fuel executives. Rights experts note that the legislation is part of a worrying trend wherein climate activists are increasingly becoming the target of harsh penalties over the past year.
March 2023 | South Australia becomes first state to enact Indigenous Voice to Parliament
The South Australian government passed a historic bill on 26 March, making it the first Australian jurisdiction to legislate an Indigenous Voice to the Parliament at a state level. The bill was initially drafted based on two rounds of consultations held in Aboriginal communities between August and October 2022. “The Voice” will consist of 46 elected members across the state, representing six regions. Each region will have two representatives that directly communicate with parliament and government departments. The move comes ahead of the national referendum on creating a federal Voice for the parliament, expected to be held later this year. Supporters hope the Voice will serve as a positive example for establishing the national Indigenous Voice.