Pauline Hanson set out to shock parliament on Thursday and absolutely succeeded. The controversial right wing One Nation leader appeared in Parliament dressed in a full burqa.
Apparently seeking to generate debate (and headlines) about the place of Muslim culture in Australian society, when she took off the black Islamic cloak, Ms Hanson – whose political career is founded on xenophobic stances on a number of issues – goaded Liberal Attorney-General George Brandis, asking if the government would back her policy of banning the burqa.
See the video, above.
The reply from a visibly furious Mr Brandis was swift and brutal.
“Senator Hanson, no, we will not be banning the burqa,” he said sternly.
“I am not going to pretend to ignore the stunt that you have tried to pull today by arriving in the chamber dressed in a burqa when we all know that you are not an adherent of the Islamic faith.
“I would caution and counsel you with respect to be very, very careful of the offence you may do to the religious sensibilities of other Australians.”
“We have about 500,000 Australians in this country of the Islamic faith and the vast majority of them are law-abiding good Australians.
“Senator Hanson, for the last four years, I have had responsibility pre-eminently among the ministers subject to the Prime Minister for national security policy.
“And I can tell you, Senator Hanson, that it has been the advice of each director-general of security with whom I have worked and each commissioner of the Australian Federal Police with whom I have worked that it is vital for their intelligence and law enforcement work that they work co-operatively with the Muslim community, and to ridicule that community, to drive it into a corner, to mock its religious garments is an appalling thing to do.
“I would ask you to reflect on that.”
The speech was met with a standing ovation from his opposition Labor and Greens senators on the other side of the chamber.
Later on radio 2GB, Ms Hanson sought to explain her burqa wearing stunt.
“It is foreign to us. This is not our way of life. And so many in the suburbs of Sydney, if you are honest about it, if you are not a Muslim, you really don’t want to go to these places because you don’t feel welcome there,” she said.
Earlier this week, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party was listed in an annual report published by the United States State Department as an organisation that was a threat to religious freedom.