ABBOTT WISHES THE BURKA WASN’T WORN IN AUSTRALIA

2 Oct 2014

– Prime Minister Tony Abbott says he wishes the burka “was not worn” in Australia, and has indicated he may support calls to ban the Islamic head-covering from being worn by visitors to Parliament House.

Coalition backbenchers Cory Bernardi and George Christensen have said they believe the burka should be removed at security checkpoints coming into the building.

Speaker of the House Bronwyn Bishop and Senate President Stephen Parry are seeking advice from security agencies but are yet to make a decision.

Mr Abbott said Parliament House had to be treated as a secure building.

“It is perfectly appropriate that in certain circumstances people be required to show their face. There can’t be one rule for one form of attire and a different rule for another form of attire,” he said.

“It has to be the same rules for everyone and if the rules require you to show your face, well, you show your face.

“This is a secure building and it is important that people be able to be identified, it is important that people be able to be recognised as the people for whom a pass has been issued.”

But he cautioned against inflating the issue.

“Has anyone ever sought entry to this building so attired? As far as I am aware, no,” he said.

“And making a big song and dance about a hypothetical I am not sure is particularly helpful.

“But I just want to stress that this is a secure building and it should be governed by the rules that are appropriate for a secure building and obviously people need to be identifiable in a secure building such as this.”

Attorney-General George Brandis said it was “none of his business” if people wore the burka but added there may be times when it should be removed.

“There may be particular circumstances in which people should be required to reveal their identity and those rules should apply equally to everyone regardless of what garment they may be wearing that might conceal their identity,” he told the National Press Club.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Mr Abbott should have kept his personal views about the burka to himself.

Mr Shorten told the ABC’s Lateline program the comments were disappointing.

Media player: “Space” to play, “M” to mute, “left” and “right” to seek.

VIDEO: Bill Shorten speaks to Lateline (Lateline)

“I wish he had just stuck to saying people are free to make those choices. I don’t think he should have taken that next step and editorialised his own opinion,” Mr Shorten said.

“When you’re the leader of the nation, everyone listens to what you say and I wish he had just defended the right of people to practise their religion.”

A broader call for the burka to be banned in public, led by Palmer United Party Senator Jacqui Lambie and also supported by Senator Bernardi and Mr Christensen, appears not to have won the Prime Minister’s support.

“I have said before that I find it a fairly confronting form of attire,” he said.

“Frankly, I wish it was not worn. But we are a free country, we are a free society and it is not the business of Government to tell people what they should and shouldn’t wear.”

Maha Abdo, from the Sydney-based Muslim Women’s Association, said Mr Abbott’s comments were offensive and ignorant.

She said most Muslim women in Australia who wore a headcovering wore the niqab – which covers the face but not the eyes.

The burka is a full body covering, with a mesh slot to cover the eyes.

“He says that he is clearly offended by the niqab, or by the burqa that he calls it, and yet he comes up and says you know, we live in a free society and everyone can choose what to wear and what not to wear, his comment was clearly adding more fuel to the fire that is existing,” she said.

Newly-appointed Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police Andrew Colvin, whose appointment was announced by Mr Abbott on Wednesday morning, said it was not appropriate for him to comment on the speculation.

“Policing in this country is done without fear or favour in all circumstances,” he said.

In Parliament, MPs passed the Government’s first round of counter-terror laws, including a measure that would jail anyone who disclosed intelligence information for up to 10 years.

– Emma Griffiths

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About Jumpin' Jack Cash

Deep connections are the most important aspect of my existence. I don’t care if people don’t know what they want. I love books. I’m cynical of love stories, although I’m romantic. I adore gardens. I like women who challenge me. I love the rain as an excuse to stay inside and dream. I'm furiously impatient. If I ask you a question best to tell me the truth as I'm likely to already know the answer. I'm a carnivore. I continuously underestimate the magic of fresh flowers in my home. I love warm rain in the summer. My mood elevates to epic proportions when the sun shines. Tell me not to do something and I'll do it twice and take photos. Running is my antidepressant. I loathe lies. I rarely forgive a lie. Loyalty and honesty are my most noble virtues, and I value them more than anything in other people. I love to love, and am able to fall in love very quickly, although it's only ever happened once. I understood myself and fixed myself only after destroying myself. My greatest excitement comes from deliberately getting lost in foreign cities. I can be extremely loud and frighteningly silent. I hate insinuations. I love storms. Justice for all. I'm a proud man, but welcome the influence of the feminine soul. I have two sisters. I’m a dreamer. I’m a deep thinker. Don’t deal with guilt trips or drama that well. I'm extremely stubborn and persistent. I'm brilliant at keeping secrets. I love driving. I become absolutely and completely lost while watching a burning fire. When the toast pops from the toaster I’m never ready and shit myself. I play the guitar, but require much improvement. Solitude and warmth of the sun are perfect together. I’ve been married once and now divorced. I’m a music junkie. Chocolate mousse is the shit. I curse too much. I find it difficult to make friends. I spent four years as a firefighter. I’ve run my own company since 1991. Bright lights, big cities. I’ve been an executive producer of a feature film. Some people don’t care, and that’s the biggest let-down of the human race. There are cures and solutions for many evils, but no remedy for the worst of them all - the apathy of human beings. The sound of the Italian language being spoken is as good as my favourite music. I hate corrupt cops. I relentlessly and passionately pursue anybody and anything that sets my soul on fire. I'm a dog lover, and all my dogs are considered family members. I have an obsession with photography. I have some close friends who are household names, but shall always remain anonymous. I’m crazy but not lazy. Losing a soulmate has hurt me badly. My two young sons are the nucleus of my universe. I love airports. I love freedom. If you are dishonest or disloyal, I can erase you from my life and memory immediately and permanently. I yearn to explore, dream about and discover as many friendships, deep connections and places, one possibly can in a lifetime.
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