Australian far-right leader wears burqa in Senate

The leader of Australia's far-right One Nation party Pauline Hanson has worn a burqa on the floor of the nation's Senate

One Nation Leader Pauline Hanson wearing a burqa in the Senate chamber at Parliament House in Canberra
One Nation Leader Pauline Hanson wearing a burqa in the Senate chamber at Parliament House in Canberra

Pauline Hanson, leader of Australia’s far-right One Nation part, took her seat for the daily question time in Senate wearing a black burqa, ahead of her motion to ban the garment that was due for debate later on Thursday.

The Queensland senator has rallied against the burqa since returning to Parliament last year. 

But Hanson was rebuked sharply for her behaviour. The leader of the government in the Senate, the attorney general George Brandis, told the One Nation leader the ruling Coalition had no intention of banning the burqa.

"No, Senator Hanson, we will not ban the burka," he said. “Senator Hanson, I’m 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 you are not an adherent of the Islamic faith.”

He condemned Hanson's stunt and "counselled and cautioned" her against causing offence to religious groups.

“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.”

Brandis reminded Hanson that as attorney general, he held preeminent portfolio responsibility for national security, and the advice from intelligence agencies was clear – countering the risks of extremism required close cooperation with the Islamic community.

“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 your behaviour.”

Brandis received a standing applause from the opposition Labour party, and the Greens party, as well as other crossbench senators.

Hanson smiled throughout Brandis’ answer, and visibly delighted with the commotion caused by her intervention, left the Senate chamber shortly after her designated question.

In a statement, Hanson said "the need to ban full face coverings in public was an important issue facing modern Australia".

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