Queensland counter-terrorism police have charged three men in relation to the displaying of neo-Nazi material, after conducting raids on three separate addresses across south-east Queensland.
Police told Guardian Australia that officers had discovered a number of offensive banners, stickers and flyers after executing search warrants on residential addresses in the Brisbane suburb of Toowong, and Gold Coast suburbs of Pimpama and Oxenford.
Police believe one of the banners seized, which contained a Nazi symbol and the words “Hitler was right”, was displayed on the Pacific Highway at Helensvale in November 2022.
In police bodycam footage, nazi uniforms and what appears to be a gel blaster are also seen in one of the homes. Gel blasters are illegal across Australia except for in Queensland, where they can be purchased without a permit as they aren’t classified as a weapon.
It is alleged the men are responsible for a number of incidents involving offensive imagery being posted in public areas, causing damage to infrastructure and sparking community concern.
Police say a 21-year-old Toowong man has been charged with two counts of wilful damage and two counts of contravening storage measures and other precautions about access to restricted items.
A 20-year-old Pimpama man has been charged with two counts of wilful damage, and a 42-year-old Oxenford man has been charged with one count of wilful damage and one count of public nuisance.
All three are expected to appear in the Brisbane magistrates court on 28 February.
Operations commander of the counter-terrorism investigation group, acting detective superintendent Leonie Steyger, said “the public have a right to go about their daily lives without being subjected to highly offensive imagery”.
“Those responsible represent the smallest minority of our communities, and my team will continue to disrupt and charge individuals who are motivated by this type of behaviour,” Steyger said.
The Queensland government promised in May last year to ban the display of hate symbols by introducing legislation by the end of 2022, but have so far failed to do so.
A spokesperson for Queensland’s attorney-general, Shannon Fentiman, said the Palaszczuk government “strongly condemns” the display of Nazi hate symbols and believes “they have no place in our society.”
“We have committed to introducing a new criminal offence to make it illegal to display hate symbols, such as those related to Nazi ideology,” the spokesperson said.
“The government is working with stakeholders from across Queensland’s multicultural communities on these important reforms, including a recent roundtable hosted by the attorney-general, to ensure we get these changes right.
“This is important legislation, and the attorney-general looks forward to introducing the bill into parliament early this year.”