WA Premier Colin Barnett has ruled out any attempt to ban Muslims from wearing burkas, but has said he would prefer “that type of clothing” was not worn in Australia.
Premier Barnett was responding to questions following Senator Pauline Hanson’s renewed call for a ban on the burka ahead of her visit to WA, where One Nation will be fielding candidates in the March state election.
Ms Hanson used Twitter to vent her concerns about the burka yesterday.
“It seems people don’t realise the burqa is not a religious right, it’s an evil tool of oppression and an extreme national security risk,” she said.
Mr Barnett dismissed any suggestion of a ban, but expressed reservations about the religious headwear worn by Muslims.
“We’re not about to introduce laws into Western Australia to ban the burka,” he said. “But I think when people come from other countries with other religious beliefs … I would appeal to people not to wear that type of clothing in Australia and as Australian citizens.
“It’s not part of our culture and in most countries now you don’t find that’s the case.”
People have right to their opinion, Hanson says
As One Nation leader Pauline Hanson arrived in Perth this afternoon, she defended her hardline stance on the burka, and suggested Mr Barnett had shifted ground on the issue.
“It is a shift, from what we possibly haven’t heard him say anything at all in the past,” she said.
“It is up to the people, and I think the people should have their say in this. Political correctness has to be thrown in the rubbish bin where it belongs. People should have a right to have an opinion and express it freely without being called racist … we have to look at what is best for our society.”
WA Labor leader Mark McGowan acknowledged there was some concern about religious headdress worn by some women, but rejected any suggestion of a legislative ban and supported the right of individuals to wear it.
“My view is that women have the right to make their own decision about their bodies and their clothing, and I think that’s a fundamental point of Australian culture,” he said.
“I don’t think police should be out there prosecuting these types of things.”