Wednesday, 6 September 2017
Statements by Senators
National Security, Parliament House: Dress Standards
On 17 August this year, I took my place in the Senate wearing the burqa, which is the most widely recognised symbol of radical Islam. It sent shock waves across this chamber because it was the first time a burqa had ever been worn in this place. Many here have since disclosed to me they found it confronting, distasteful and unnerving by the sheer fact of its symbolism. Some have called it a stunt, but I prefer to call it drawing attention to the dress code regulations of this chamber, of which there are none, and also to add validity to the public's concern that it is of great national security.
Let me also add that I, like many other Australians, believe that the burqa and niqab are a form of oppression and control of women. I want these Islamic full-face coverings and other full-face coverings banned in all places where Commonwealth law applies. I am not alone, because the Nationals, at their conference this weekend, will vote on the very same issue. If that policy is adopted then the Nationals will adopt One Nation policy.
Senator Brandis, the Hansard recorded your speech in which you criticised me for wearing a burqa in this chamber, but it did not record who stood and clapped. Let me put it on the record now that all of your colleagues and Senator Bernardi remained seated and stunned while you strutted the Senate stage with your quivering lip. All of the Labor senators and the Greens, together with Senator Hinch and Senator Gichuhi, jumped to their feet to defend the burqa as a religious symbol. Whether or not you agree with my decision to wear a burqa in parliament is not the real issue. The real issue is that Australians want a debate on full-face coverings and they want a debate on the issues that the burqa raises. It is, after all, a sign of radical Islam, which threatens the true Australian way of life. What would our Anzacs say? They fought for our freedom and way of life. There is room for only one flag, one language, one loyalty and one law. Recently, the lives of precious Australians have been lost in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria to stop radical Islam. But, Senator Brandis, you forgot those lives when you defended the most recognised symbol of radical Islam, the burqa. It was you, Senator Brandis, who found yourself—
Senator Brandis found himself backed in a corner when I wore the burqa into the Senate chamber. Why were you so upset when I wore the burqa into the Senate? Instead of dealing with the issues raised by the burqa, you sidestepped them and declared the burqa as a religious requirement. The Australian National Imams Council, in their press release issued later that day, said it was not a religious requirement to wear the burqa. Senator Brandis, the burqa is not a religious requirement, but it is a shorthand for radical Islam through its oppression of women and association with communities which desire our law to be replaced by sharia law. Many women are silently suffering by being forced to wear the burqa. The burqa condemns many women to be perpetual minors, obedient to their male guardians. It is these women and their children who are most at risk of genital mutilation. Other women wear the burqa as a political statement, a form of defiance against a country which has given them freedom from the oppression experienced in other countries. The court of public opinion has judged you and found you wanting because you defended the most powerful symbol of radical Islam here in the heart of Australia's democracy. Senator Brandis, how can Australians believe the government is serious when it says—
I am making reference to Senator Brandis, through the chair, in relation to how Australians can believe the government is serious when it says that integration into our society is an important requirement for Australian citizenship when you defend the burqa. The burqa is only seen in communities which want to remain separate from the rest of Australia. Surveys including the Sky News/ReachTEL poll, which was done after I wore the burqa into parliament, show the majority of Australians want the burqa banned and they want it done now. But, Senator Brandis, it seems you believe you know better.
Senator Brandis, if you do not ban the full-face coverings, including the burqa and the niqab, how can a court of Australia truly determine who appears before it? The majority of Australians want civil servants, judges, soldiers and others to show their faces at work and in public. To do otherwise contradicts the neutrality of the state. They also want the burqa banned in any areas where Commonwealth law applies for reasons related to security and social cohesion. We know that Labor depends on the Muslim vote to hold up to 15 lower house seats in the parliament, but it is unclear what motivates you to speak up in favour of the burqa. The Liberals do not hold a single lower house seat where there are 10,000 or more Muslims in an electorate. Senator Brandis, you are being used by Labor. You have a right to a view on my decision to wear the burqa into the Senate, but it is arrogant, incorrect and ill-informed when you presume to speak for most Australians.
The caution that was given to me in respect of our counter-terrorism strategy is rejected. I greatly respect the Australian Federal Police and other agencies, but it was only a miscalculation by the terrorists which allowed the Etihad passengers to reach their destination. If the bag containing the bomb had not been rejected because of the weight, then on 15 July 2017 we would have seen a catastrophic air explosion. We all fly on domestic and overseas flights, and we are equally at risk of acts of terrorism. It is a nonsense to suggest my wearing the burqa would stop anyone from reporting a threat. The real problem now is that terrorists are better at hiding their intentions from the community. We saw that in the recent Barcelona van attack.
The ill-informed Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young has also suggested I will be responsible for the next terrorist plot in Australia. Sarah Hanson-Young has long been a disgrace in this parliament with her uncontrollable childish outbursts and her puerile, attention-seeking behaviour with the media. It is the Australian Greens, with their open-border policies, who are putting all Australians at risk. Labor and the Australian Greens are so intent on winning seats in the parliament they will not ask themselves whether Muslims are more inclined to radicalisation.
Successive governments have failed to investigate these economic issues so that informed decisions can be made on whether or not to accept more migrants from Islamic countries, seeing that just 53 per cent of Muslim men and 24 per cent of Muslim women were employed on the night of the 2011 census. In some parts of Australia, our way of life has been threatened by Muslims who demand special privileges in our swimming pools, our schools and our universities. In every university, the taxpayer funds one or more prayer rooms, with associated facilities that cannot be used by other students. A number of Islamic societies on these campuses have as their prime aim the conversion of others to Islam.
Let me refer to a book titled Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel and the War on Terrorby Nonie Darwish. She writes:
Their only solution was to send their children to Muslim schools. And in these schools in America, the same indoctrination and hate speech against non-Muslims I experienced back in Gaza is now creating a new generation full of alienation and rage, a subculture that rejects the larger society. The indoctrination of these schools here and elsewhere in the West is producing angry young Muslims who cannot relate to the larger community. It is a ticking time bomb waiting to explode.
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Of course, not all Muslims are terrorists, but the fear, defensiveness and silence of the majority is "heard" loud and clear as agreement by the radicals.
Millions of Australians want a debate on the Islamisation of this country without being called racist. In any event, Muslims are not a race; they are peoples from over 130 countries who speak different languages, have different ethnicities and have different shared histories. I, through you, Chair, say: Senator Brandis, whether you think wearing a burqa into the Senate was the right thing to do or not, the fact is Australians want to focus on the issues I have raised. Australians are worried by the burqa and what it means. It is wrong of you, Senator Brandis, to deny the citizens of this country a say in their future.