Senate debates

Tuesday, 30 September 2014


National Security

8:28 pm

Photo of Jacqui LambieJacqui Lambie (Tasmania, Palmer United Party) Share this | Hansard source

From one mother to another mother, let's unite and ban the burqa. The sign next to my office door says that I am a Senator of the Australian parliament, and I will always be grateful to the Tasmanian people for placing me in that position. However, the title that I will always value most is 'mother'—mother to my two beautiful sons. I felt their heart beats in my body and witnessed their first breaths and I pray to God that that I will never live long enough to see or hear their last breaths in this world. The pain of saying goodbye to a child would be soul destroying.

With the recent decisions we have made in this place regarding national security, armed police officers patrolling the corridors and our Defence Force ready to strike the extremists, I took some time out last weekend to think about the pain and hurt that mothers all over the world must feel as their children go to war—how all mothers must feel after they lose their children to war.

When mothers give birth all we hope for is that our children experience a happy life full of hope (amal), love (houb), faith (aman), and peace (salaam). And that is what I want right now for all Australian children, no matter where they come from or what creed, culture or religion they will experience growing up. All I want—and everyone in this parliament wants—is for Australia's children to grow up knowing hope, love, faith and peace. And war, conflict, is a guarantee that hate, despair and suffering—the opposite of hope, love, faith and peace—fill the lives of our children. However, I am not naive to the evil which fills this world and people's hearts. Just wishing for hope, love, faith and peace in the face of the brutal threat posed by the extremists is not good enough.

As we have done in the past, in order to create a country ruled by love, respect and kindness, we must act decisively and unite under the one Australian flag, constitution and culture. The terrorists and extremists will win if we further divide and segregate into ethnic and religious groups who reject the Australian law, constitution and culture. The terrorists and extremists will win if we allow the poison they preach to enter the hearts and minds of our young Australians.

Unfortunately the burqa, while concealing the identity of the wearer, is also a powerful cultural symbol, a flag for the Islamic extremists who now wage war on us. If Islamic extremists see women wearing burqas in public, it emboldens them. They feel as if they have won and that their culture of fear and intimidation and their sharia law have prevailed. I am surprised that many politicians in this place who in the past have had the courage to speak out about banning the burqa and have had the fortitude to give voice to their strong opposition to sharia law are happy to remain silent while the current pack of critics attacks me. What has happened to the politicians who have displayed courage and spoken their minds about burqas and sharia law? Have they now been frightened into silence by the thought of threats from the extremists? Have the politically correct scared them into submission? It is time that this chamber was reminded of the words that some of our famous elected members have voiced. TheSydney Morning Herald of 25 February 2006 reads:

MIGRANTS are obliged to "be Australian" and social integration must be pushed harder, John Howard has declared.

In an interview marking his 10th anniversary as Prime Minister, Mr Howard also describes the burqa, the full head covering worn by some Muslim women, as "confronting".

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Mr Howard told the Herald, "when you come to this country, you become Australian". Similarly, Mr Costello had said: "Before becoming an Australian, you will be asked to subscribe to certain values. If you have strong objections to those values, don't come to Australia."

In the interview, Mr Howard said multiculturalism had become distorted and too often stupidly meant "a federation of cultures". And he said Muslims must work at avoiding their alienation. Mr Costello condemned "confused, mushy, misguided multiculturalism".

The Australian of 7 May 2010 reads:

The federal opposition leader, in Adelaide on the final day of marginal seat campaigning ahead of Tuesday's federal budget, said he respected Senator Bernardi's comments, although he did not "absolutely'' back them.

"We believe in free speech in this country and people are entitled to a personal view, even politicians,'' Mr Abbott said.

"I think a lot of Australians find the wearing of the burqua quite confronting and I wish it was not widely worn.

"But the point is we don't have a policy to ban it and we have always respected people's rights in this area.

"He (Bernardi) has expressed a view, I respect the view, I don't absolutely share it, but I can understand the concerns in the community.''

An article in TheSydney Morning Herald of 7 May 2010, in response to a man who dressed in a burqa and robbed a bank, reads:

OPPOSITION Leader Tony Abbott has fuelled the political debate over the burqas worn by Muslim women by saying there is ''understandable community concern'' about the attire.

Mr Abbott made the remarks in response to a call by one of his MPs for burqas to be banned in Australia in the wake of an armed robbery in Sydney by a man in a full black burqa.

Mr Abbott said Senator Cory Bernardi's remarks reflected his personal views rather than Coalition policy - but he added: ''There is understandable concern in the community about what former prime minister John Howard called a confronting form of attire.''

But one of the most prominent Islamic women in Australia, the president of the Muslim Women's National Network of Australia, Aziza Abdel-Halim, endorsed the call for the burqa to be banned in public.

''To Islam, the security and safety of the community comes first,'' she told The Age.

''If [the burqa] opens the way for criminal acts then, as Muslims, we have to think about it. I see nothing wrong with saying to women 'Don't wear it in public'. I see the senator's point. A lot of Muslim women would see his point.''

The Australian of 11 April 2011 reads:

Opposition parliamentary secretary for the status of women Michaelia Cash said the burka had nothing to do with religion because Islam stipulated modesty only, not the wearing of a face covering. She said the dress deprived women of their identity and isolated them from society. "It is inconsistent with our culture and values and I truly believe that women should not do it she said.

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But Liberal senator Cory Bernardi renewed his calls for a burka ban because the garment was a security threat and restricted social interaction. In Europe to monitor France's anti-burka law -- under which veiled women will be fined E150 ($205) from today …

I have been assured that the need to wear the burqa is not written in the Koran. Dr Raihan Ismail, lecturer in Middle East politics and Islamic studies at the Australian National University, states: 'The Koran does not explicitly say you have to cover yourself in this manner.' The most common veil is the hijab, a non-full-face covering. Dr Raihan Ismail concedes the fact that some women may be pressured into wearing the burqa by their possessive husbands.

It time that the manufactured hysteria created by my critics for political purposes stopped. It is time for common sense and a little courage to prevail. The burqa has become a problem because it conceals the identity of the wearer, poses a threat to public safety and could indicate formal or informal allegiance to our extremist enemies, their political ideologies and foreign religious leaders.

While I acknowledge the right of people to express their religion, custom and culture, I also acknowledge that there are limits to those individual rights, especially when, as the courts found in France, it becomes necessary to protect the rights and freedoms of others. It is now time to protect the rights and freedoms of ordinary Australians and send a powerful message to those extremists who hate our relaxed, peaceful lifestyle and culture. It is now time to ban the burqa and take a positive step that will unite all Australians.

I close by repeating what I started with. It is my plea to the Islamic mothers of Australia. From one mother to another, let us take away that which divides us so that our children experience a happy life full of hope (amal), love (houb), faith (aman) and peace (salaam).


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