One Nation leader Pauline Hanson wore a burqa into question time in the Australian senate today.
She removed the head covering in a dramatic flourish when she rose to ask attorney-general George Brandis if he would ban the burqa in Australia.
His immediate reply was an emphatic “no”, before he condemned Hanson for her behaviour and mocking the religious beliefs of others.
The response of the government’s senate leader received applause and a standing ovation from many in the chamber. Many of the government’s political opponents congratulated Brandis on his strong stance.
Here’s what he said:
Senator Hanson, no, we will not be banning the burqa.
Now senator Hanson 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 you and counsel you senator Hanson, with respect, to be very, very careful of the offence you may do to the religious sensibilities of other Australians.
We have about half a million Australians in this country of the Islamic faith and the vast majority of them are law-abiding, good Australians. And senator Hanson it is absolutely consistent with being a good, law-abiding Australian and a strict, adherent Muslim.
Now 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 cooperatively 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 and I would ask you to reflect on what you have done.
— Josh Butler (@JoshButler) August 17, 2017
This afternoon Labor’s leader in the senate Penny Wong issued the following statement in praise of her government counterpart:
On behalf of all Labor senators, and of all fair-minded Australians, I thank the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator George Brandis, for his words today.
The sort of bigotry and divisiveness we saw displayed by Senator Hanson today has no place in our society. It certainly has no place in our parliament.
Today our parliament showed leadership when it was needed.
It is one thing to wear religious dress as an act of faith. It is another to wear it as a stunt. That can only give offence and divide.
Nobody needs to defend Senator Hanson’s right to speak. The people that need defending are the people she attacks.
Leaders have an obligation to stand up for the people in Australia who do not have a voice and today the Parliament did so.