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Pauline Hanson’s Senate Burqa Stunt; Labor And Greens Give Brandis A Standing Ovation

Pauline Hanson today staged an anti-burqa stunt during Question Time in the Senate.

The One Nation leader appeared in a burqa at 2.06pm. The Senate President, Senator Stephen Parry, said that her identity had been verified by parliamentary staff.

At 2.09pm, as online and social media began reporting on Hanson’s behaviour, Senator Derryn Hinch raised a point of order regarding dress requirements in the chamber.

At 2.25pm, Hanson rose to ask the Government Leader and Attorney-General, Senator George Brandis, whether the government would legislate to ban the burqa. Brandis delivered a stinging rebuke to Hanson and received a standing ovation from ALP and Greens senators.

Hanson used a supplementary question to ask whether the government would ban the burqa in the houses of parliament. Senate President Parry took the question, pointing out that such decisions are the province of the presiding officers.

The ALP leader, Senator Penny Wong, said she would like to have moved a motion of congratulations for Senator Brandis,

After her question, Hanson left the chamber.

2.06pm: Watch Senate President Stephen Parry make the first reference to Hanson’s appearance in a burqa (1m)

2.09pm: Watch Senator Derryn Hinch’s point of order (1m)

2.25pm: Watch Hanson’s question to Brandis (7m)

Hansard transcript of Senate Question Time proceedings.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Duniam, a supplementary question.

Senator DUNIAM (Tasmania) (14:06): What risks are there in a registered organisation donating money to the political campaigns of its own staff?

Senator Hanson having entered the chamber —

Senator DUNIAM: What on earth?

Honourable senators interjecting—

The PRESIDENT: Senators, order! Senators, I’ve been advised by the clerk via the attendant that the identity of Senator Hanson was established before she entered the chamber. I’m just going to reflect on the mode of dress that Senator Hanson is using. We’ll continue with question time.

Senator DASTYARI (New South Wales—Deputy Opposition Whip in the Senate) (14:09): My question is to the Minister representing—

The PRESIDENT: Senator Hinch on a point of order.

Senator Hinch: Mr President, we’ve been assured by you that the clerk has identified this person here as Senator Hanson. I would like to know if Senator Hanson can stay here unchallenged. I understand that she’s not a Muslim and she is not of Islamic faith. Can I appear tomorrow in fancy dress unchallenged?

The PRESIDENT: My rulings have always been, Senator Hinch, that I’m not going to dictate the standard of dress for senators in this chamber. I believe senators should be making their own decisions about their standard of dress. I will enforce the rules in relation to advertising material or in relation to inappropriate attire such as pyjamas and things like that, which has happened in the past. But, as I indicated, I’m going to reflect on the situation we have before us. I don’t want to make a decision or a rash statement about that at the moment. And I’ll be happy to entertain, outside of question time, senators’ views about the matter. We’ll proceed with question time. I call Senator Dastyari.

Senator HANSON (Queensland) (14:24): I’m quite happy to remove this, because this is not what should belong in this parliament. My question is to—

The PRESIDENT: A point of order, Senator Wong?

Senator Wong: I am awaiting the question.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Hanson, your question.

Senator HANSON: My question is to Senator Brandis, the Attorney-General. Senator Brandis, in light of the national security of this nation, will you work—

Senator Dastyari: You’re the risk.

The PRESIDENT: Order on my left.

Senator HANSON: to ban the burqa in Australia, considering—

The PRESIDENT: Just a moment, Senator Hanson. I need to hear the question, so can I have some order on my left and my right. Senator Hanson, commence your question again.

Senator HANSON: In light of what is happening with national security—there have been 13 foiled national threats against us from terrorism, three that have been successful, and Australians have lost their lives. Terrorism is a true threat to our country, and many Australians are very much in fear of it. What I would like to ask on behalf of the Australian people—considering a large majority of Australians wish to see the banning of the burqa—our two former prime ministers, Julia Gillard— (Time expired).

The PRESIDENT: Order on my left.

Senator Dastyari: You’re the risk.

Senator Ian Macdonald interjecting—

The PRESIDENT: Senator Dastyari! And Senator Macdonald.

Senator BRANDIS (Queensland—Attorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:25): 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. Senator Hanson, it is absolutely consistent being a good, law-abiding Australian and being a strict-adherent Muslim.

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. 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.

Honourable senators interjecting—

The PRESIDENT: Order! Order, senators. Senators on my left, please resume your seats. Senator Wong on a point of order?

Senator Wong: If I could, by leave, make a very short statement.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Hanson, are you objecting to leave being granted?

Senator Hanson: Yes, I am.

Leave not granted.

The PRESIDENT: A point of order, Senator Wong?

Senator Wong: My point of order is this: if I had the opportunity, I would move to congratulate the leader of the government for that statement. And I make this point on behalf of all of us on this side of the chamber: it is one thing to wear religious dress as a sincere act of faith; it is another to wear it as a stunt here in the Senate chamber.

The PRESIDENT: There is no point of order. Senator Hanson, a supplementary question?

Senator HANSON (Queensland) (14:29): Is the Attorney-General aware that the burqa is not a religious requirement at all? Will the Attorney-General then ban the burqa in this house for the future as a security risk. Also, the fact is that the people of Australia have the right to see the face of a person that they elect to this parliament. They are the person who is actually going to be making decisions in the parliament on their behalf.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Hanson, it is in the purview of the Presiding Officers, not the Attorney-General, to determine what happens as far as security is concerned within Parliament House. The Speaker and I have made arrangements that anyone who enters these premises with their face covered by whatever means is clearly identified prior to entering the building. Further, when you entered the chamber dressed as you were, I wanted to ascertain who you were and that was verified to me. I make no further comment about the dress you wore. Attorney-General, do you have comment you wish to make in relation to that matter?

Senator Brandis: No.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Hanson, a final supplementary question.

Senator HANSON (Queensland) (14:30): If a person wears a balaclava or a helmet into a bank or any other building or even on the floor of the court, they must be removed. Why is it not the same case for someone who is covering up their face and cannot be identified? Will the government make changes to these laws?

Senator BRANDIS (Queensland—Attorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:30): No.

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Malcolm Farnsworth
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