New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet shocked voters yesterday, admitting he wore a Nazi uniform on his 21st birthday.
But the Premier has avoided getting hit with an $11,000 fine, and potential 12-month prison sentence, despite a law his party passed in August last year banning Nazi symbols in the state.
The law, which was passed in August last year, criminalises knowingly displaying a Nazi symbol in public without a reasonable excuse. The maximum penalty for the offence is 12 months’ imprisonment or an $11,000 fine for an individual or $55,000 fine for a corporation.
But the law cannot be imposed retroactively, so the Premier will not be punished for wearing the Nazi uniform 20 years ago.
When the law was passed through the lower house, the NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman said it was brought in to put an end to “hateful and vilifying conduct” in the community.
“New South Wales is a place where everyone can expect protection and safety from serious vilification and hate crimes,” Speakman said at the time.
“The display of a Nazi symbol undermines our shared values and causes harm and distress to others in the community, including those from the Jewish faith. This distress is also felt keenly by groups targeted by the Nazis, including people with disabilities and members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and by veterans who risked their lives in service for our country.”
Perrottet said he was "deeply ashamed" of his costume choice, when speaking to reporters yesterday.
The issue was reportedly raised with the Premier two days prior, when he received a call from a colleague. The revelation prompted him to come forward with the admission and apology.
"When it was raised with me - this difficult truth of a grave and terrible mistake that I made at my 21st birthday party - to be told by someone else, I felt it was very important that it came from me," he told reporters yesterday.
"I’m deeply ashamed of what I did and I’m truly sorry for the hurt and the pain this will cause for people right across our state and, in particular, members of the Jewish community, Holocaust survivors, veterans and their families."