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Use of Nazi Symbols at Public Demonstrations

Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 21 March 2023



Over the weekend we saw Nazis goosestepping and Sieg Heil-ing in support of an anti-transgender hate group of fake feminists on the steps of Victoria's parliament. That same group, which one of your backbenchers has hosted in this parliament, will hold a rally on the lawns of Tasmania's parliament at lunchtime today. If any members of your party joins these people - who are on the same side ideologically as neo-Nazis - on the lawns today, will you demonstrate the courage shown by Victoria's Liberal Leader and act swiftly to remove them from the Liberal Party Room?

There will be a peaceful counter vigil at noon today. Will you be there to stand in solidarity with transgender Tasmanians who are the target of both Let Women Speak and neo Nazis?



Mr Speaker, I thank the member for the question. I want to be very clear that Nazi salutes and the anti-Semitic messages that they send have no place in Tasmanian society.

Ms O'Connor - What about the anti-transgender messages they send?

Mr SPEAKER - Order.

Mr ROCKLIFF - The images coming out Victoria in recent days were shocking and abhorrent.

As I said when I became Premier in April last year, I want Tasmania to be a place where everyone is respected, valued, encouraged and included to be the best that they can be. I stand by that and, in my 21 years in parliament, I have stood by that. Our Government's legislation to criminalise Nazi symbols is intended to target the display of these offensive symbols. Further work will now be proactively taken on the bill to examine whether it could be extended to banning Nazi salutes. I commend our Attorney-General for leading the charge in this.

Ms O'Connor - Actually, it was a Greens' bill originally, just so the record is clear. It was.

Mr SPEAKER - Order.

Members interjecting.

Mr SPEAKER - Order, the Premier has the call.

Mr ROCKLIFF - Mr Speaker, we have gold standard anti-discrimination laws in this state, of which I am proud; and for a reason: they help foster a kinder and a more inclusive Tasmanian community - as they should.

We will be working hard to be a better, more tolerant Tasmania. Freedom of speech is a fundamental principle of our democracy. I respectfully ask all people who engage in their democratic right, irrespective of their views, to be respectful of each other's point of view and ensure that no one is vilified. Talk to one another; understand, regardless of race, background, age, gender, sexual identity ability, we are all human beings and we deserve kindness and care.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Mr Speaker, on relevance. The question was quite specific. It was whether or not the Premier will remove from the Liberal Party room any of his members who attend this hate group's rally.

Mr SPEAKER - I take the point of order and I am sure the Premier heard the question. He is only half way through his time allocated to answer it. I am sure he will get around to the issue of relevance.

Mr ROCKLIFF - I repeat what I said when I first stood here and always have as a member of parliament, irrespective of the position I have held - whether it has been as Opposition Whip, like Ms O'Byrne, as or the Premier of Tasmania, I have always fought for a more inclusive Tasmania.

Ms O'Connor - What are you doing about it?

Mr ROCKLIFF - The record demonstrates that. I reject the inference that you have made about one of our members, comparing them to the abhorrent and shocking anti-Semitic

behaviour that we saw over the weekend.

Ms O'Connor - It is anti-trans.

Mr ROCKLIFF - I utterly reject it, and you should apologise. You should apologise for your offensive behaviour.

Dr Woodruff interjecting.

Mr SPEAKER - Order.

Mr ROCKLIFF - No member of our team will be attending the rally to which you refer today. No one. I find the link to Nazi salutes and members of our team highly offensive.

Ms O'Connor - It is the ideology.

Mr SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, order.

Mr ROCKLIFF - I will support members of our team, as we do - which is clearly on record, unlike other parties which force members to vote a certain way - we have a very proud history of conscience votes in this parliament -

Ms O'Byrne - Is that why you voted against marriage equality?

Mr SPEAKER - Order, member for Bass, order.

Mr ROCKLIFF - and participating in debates - freedom to express our view irrespective of what individual members believe in the party. We have demonstrated that in a range of debates when it comes to voluntary assisted dying, when it comes to marriage equality.

We have a proud history of participating in the democratic process conscience vote on important matters of conscience when it comes to debate in this House, and our fundamental principle in the belief of freedom of speech.

I might not agree with what is expressed outside of this Chamber today or other rallies that there may well be on Parliament House lawns - whether that be anti-salmon, anti-industry or whatever else it might be - but I will always defend people's rights to express a view as a fundamental principle of freedom of speech in our democracy.

I hold that very dear as Premier and Leader of the Liberal Party. I might not agree with what you say but I will absolutely defend your right to say it. That is what freedom of speech is all about.

I repeat, no member of our team will be attending the rally you refer to today; but we will always and, as Premier of Tasmania, I will always, fight for a Tasmania where everyone feels valued, included, supported and encouraged to be the best they can be.