Senator Babet: Please explain

A post made on X (formerly Twitter) on Saturday shows Senator Ralph Babet (United Australia Party Senator for Victoria) with a person who self identifies as a neo-Nazi. In the picture the Senator gives a thumbs up. The neo-Nazi gives a variant of a Nazi salute, an act which is now a criminal offence in Victoria. It is unclear the senator knew the solute was being given at the time the picture was taken and we have written to him requesting an comment and urging the Senator to report the offense to police.

In the picture the neo-Nazi holds their hand out as would be done in a Nazi salute, but without extending their arm. It seems likely they, like the senator, were giving a thumbs up until the last second when the picture the was taken. We have asked Senator Babet to please explain if he was aware of the Nazi salute either at the time or since and what action he has taken.

The username of the person who posted the picture (and is shown in it) ends in 88, a code word for Heil Hitler (8 is the 8th letter of the alphabet, so 88 = HH = Heil Hitler). The text accompanying post says “Heil Ralph Babet, Heil our people o/”. The repeated use of Heil, further references “Heil Hitler”, and the symbol at the end, “o/” is used to represent a Nazi salute in various neo-Nazi online discussions. The post demonstrates the clear intent to make a Nazi guesture, despite the arm not being extended.

A second post was made on X with a link to the post above. This post contained the text: “it was an honour to meet you, my fellow Hitler Soldier. 1488. ⚡️⚡️”. Use of “Hitler soldier” refers to the Nazis and the poster is suggesting they see Senator Ralph Babet as a fellow support of Nazi ideology. The 1488 is a code word for white supremacy, the 14 means the “14 words” a white supremacy slogan from the United States, while the 88 is as described above.

X found the second post may breach its rules against hateful content and limited its reach, but did not remove it. This leave X in the position of knowingly facilitating a breach of Victoria’s criminal law. Given recent disclosure by X to eSafety that it doesn’t act proactively but only use reports, this means the content was reported to X, they recognised the potential breach of law, and allowed it to continue.

OHPI has previously called for the remit of eSafety to be extended to allow referal by state authorities of breaches of state law that they are responsible for administering. This would allow takedown notices to be issued by eSafety, and failure to result in penalties. We reinterate that call. It maintains a single point of contact between tech companies and government, but allows state laws to be more easily enforced.

The second post on X was also shared on Telegram where the Senator Ralph Babet (an active telegram user) was tagged to ensure he saw the post. In that post the poster claims the Senator “redpilled me on the holohoax”. The claim being made is that the Senator was promoting Holocaust denial, and the poster is approving of this. Teh Senator may wish to respond to that allegation.

Summary Offences Act 1966 (Victoria)

The law banning Nazi salutes came into effect on 21 October 2023. It is found in the Division 4C of the Summary Offences Act 1966 (Victoria). In Section 41J the law defines a Nazi guesture as being either a Nazi salute, or one that “so nearly resembles” a Nazi salute “that it is likely to be confused with or mistaken for that gesture”.

There are two seperate offences that may have occured. The first is a breach of the Summary Offences Act 1966 (Victoria) Section 41K(1A) which makes it illegal to intentionally perform a Nazi gesture in public. The second is Section 41K(1) which makes it illegal to “intentionally display a Nazi symbol or Nazi gesture” which would cover the posting of the picture to the social media platform X (Twitter). For each offence the penalty is 120 penalty units (currently a $23,077.20) or imprisonment for 12 months or both.

The key questions is when this picture was taken and where. While it appears to be yesterday, and certainly since the law came into effect, this needs to be confirmed. The second question is where it was taken, specifically, whether it occured in Victoria where this law applies. Senator Babet should be able to answer these questions.

This post was updated with addition information at 7:06 pm on 18 February, 2024.