I rise today to speak on this Senate private member’s bill, the Criminal Code Amendment (Prohibition of Full Face Coverings in Public Places) Bill 2017. It was only a matter of weeks ago that I actually entered the chamber wearing a burqa, and it was basically to say, ‘This is not the place to wear full face coverings, in this chamber.’ There are people in this place who are totally against full face coverings and there are also people who are supporting full face coverings on the streets of Australia, based on the fact that they say it is a person’s right to wear whatever they wish. In a lot of cases, yes, I do support that and I do agree with that. But, then again, we have societies and cultures that are not reflective, like many other countries around the world that accept seeing women completely covered, in full face coverings, because it’s oppressive to them and controlling of women and it is basically saying, ‘You cannot be seen out in public with any part of your body, your face’—your face, mind you—’showing, because it is basically putting out a message to men that you’re on the meat market.’ That’s basically what it is saying: ‘These men can’t control themselves, so you need to cover yourself up so that you are not tempting these men.’ Heaven help us if that were ever made compulsory in Australia. We wouldn’t have bikinis, we wouldn’t have bathing suits, we wouldn’t have our lifestyle in Australia. The whole fact is: this is a debate that this country needs to have because that is what the Australian people want.
My reasoning for wearing the burqa into this chamber was seen as a stunt. Call it what you want; I really don’t care, because the whole fact is that it has got Australians talking, and Australians feel now they have a voice. It’s created debate. But another reason I wore the burqa into this chamber was because there is no dress code for this chamber. When we actually sit down here to vote, the bells ring, we come into the chamber and we sit down. We have people go to either side and they recognise us by our faces as to who is voting and how they are voting. We are crossed off that way. I would love to know what the Greens would do in this matter if you had half-a-dozen people in this chamber wearing burqas. What are you going to say? ‘Show your face so we can get your vote’? I don’t think so. Because they will not show their face. If everyone’s the same, covering their face, how is a vote going to be taken? So I am pleased to know now that it is going to be discussed, debated and brought back to the chamber. I hope that common sense prevails in this chamber. Everyone in this House must agree a full-face covering could never, ever be worn in this chamber purely for that fact. This is the heart of our democracy.
Now, I want to go back to the National Party conference on the weekend. It was quite interesting that it was a close vote—51 to 55 votes. The National Party is, clearly, very divided on this. For Barnaby Joyce, the Deputy Prime Minister of this country, actually came out and said he doesn’t support banning of the burqa, and I think he said ‘because we have a relationship with Indonesia and Saudi Arabia’. Well, Indonesia basically has the niqab, which is the scarf. They don’t sort of promote or have the full-face covering. Saudi Arabia do. They like to control the women and they like to tell the women what to do. Women can’t even go out of their house and they can’t even leave their premises without having a male with them, even a male child. So they are totally controlled. ‘But that’s all right; we’ve got to change our culture and our way of life because we deal with these other countries.’ It’s not because we have a good product, not because it’s at the right price, not because they want everything here in this country; it’s because we actually need to appease them. So we are actually in control. And that’s where our Deputy Prime Minister’s head is at, instead of being a leader. Instead of listening to what they want, how about listening to what the Australian people want?
This is why I hear from so many people that say, ‘We don’t go to certain areas now,’ especially in Sydney. If you look around Lakemba and Bankstown, these areas are no longer Australian. They don’t know the person they are walking past in the street. This is so un-Australian. And it has grown more and more. The fact is there are women being paid to wear the burqa. There are people who are pushing their own agenda, their political ideology, which is Islam. And they’re using our laws against us. That is what is happening in our country. Full-face covering offends a lot of people. They find it offensive and they find it confronting, as two of our former prime ministers have said—Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard. I find it terribly confronting. When I walked into this chamber here in the burqa, the number of people who got a jolt from it—and they said, ‘Oh, it’s terrible.’ They didn’t like it, and that’s the fact of the matter. But we bury our true feelings and how we really need to look at the whole fact of where we are headed. We have separate laws in this country for some people and not for others. I hear it all the time from people who have a bike helmet. When they get off their bike there is no way in the wide world they can walk into some government areas or into banks if they have a bike helmet on. There is no way in the wide world they can go in with a balaclava on. So why are there different rules for one and not the other?
Again, are we appeasing the Muslim population in this country that is now growing at a rapid rate? Is it because the Labor Party have 15 lower house seats that are dominated by the Muslim vote? ‘Oh, let’s look after those people and forget about the rest of Australians and not look at what is logical!’ Where do we want to go with this country? Every time someone stands up and says something, you want to shut them down. You want to call them a racist or a bigot without having a clear debate on this. So people feel that they are totally suppressed by this whole debate, this whole argument. It needs to be discussed.
I refer to a book that I have read—and I think it’s a very good read—called Now They Call Me Infidel. It’s by Nonie Darwish. She grew up in Gaza. Her father was in the military. She said at that time Egypt was a country where they wore Western dress. She moved to America. She has married an American. She has a couple of kids. She says that now, in America, other women that she grew up with are donning the full burqa when they never, ever wore it in Egypt. Now they’re doing it in America and they are criticising her because she’s accepted the Western way of life. She has been shunned. She has not been treated the same because they are trying to impose the burqa on her to wear. She said, ‘This is not what I want my life to be.’ She said she has been intimidated by their whole attitude towards her. She goes back to Egypt and she says that it is not the country she grew up in. It is now being heavily dominated by Islam, by Muslims. She said, ‘That’s not my country.’ She can see the same thing happening in America.
We need to realise and understand that this is what is happening here in Australia. We are having things in this country because of their beliefs, their culture. Let me make this quite clear, as everyone talks about it: the burqa full-face covering is not a religious requirement. It does not have to be protected under section 116 of the Australian Constitution. This is an impact on our culture and our way of life, and it is growing quite rapidly. I know that they actually want to take over and form an Islamic state in this country. We are allowing that to happen, without standing up for our values and who we are as a nation.
I will go back to Nonie Darwish. It’s not only her. There are other books written by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She was a Muslim. She was born in Somalia. She ended up in the Dutch parliament. She fought against the Islamisation of the Western countries of the world. She is trying to warn us, and yet no-one wants to take any notice of this. We have seen it happen in other countries around the world. Let me just state this: the burqa has been banned in many countries around the world, even Muslim countries! We’ve got Congo, Tunisia and Turkey. We’ve got other countries as well that are not Muslim dominated that have banned the burqa. You have Spain, France and Germany, to name just a few. Why have they banned it? We are so far behind them in so many ways, but we don’t look at what is happening around the world to implement it here and change our ways here before we become basket cases like other countries around the world. We have to actually allow the public to have a debate on this. If you’re quite happy to have a plebiscite on same-sex marriage, then, if you haven’t got the guts to bring in legislation here, I suggest we have a plebiscite and let the people have a say at the next election on whether they want full-face coverings in this country. Common sense tells you to treat everyone equally and the same. If you are not allowed to wear a helmet or even, in some cases, a hat into a bank, then you shouldn’t allow full-face coverings and burqas.
Jacqui Lambie wanted to bring in an amendment to the Criminal Code Act for full-face coverings to be banned at times of national terrorist threat to the country. What are you going to do then? That is not going to solve the problem. That’s not the way to go with this.
I will tell you something that I hear from the public. You think that it only goes one way and that we are critical of these women who are wearing full-face coverings. I’ve sat beside these women in doctor’s surgeries and I’ve passed them in shopping centres, and they are rude to Australians. Their comments are rude. Their attitudes stinks. They feel they can say and do whatever they want to; no-one knows who they are because they’re hiding under a full-face covering.
It is not a religious requirement. It is a debate that we need to have. We need to make the decision—and it needs to start here in this parliament—to stop full-face coverings, based on the fact that we need facial recognition here. We also need to ensure that they are banned in government buildings. We also need to say that they should not be worn in hospitals. If a nurse who is wearing full-face covering comes up to give you an injection or to do training on you, how do you know who she is—or he? We don’t know the gender. So should we allow full-face coverings in hospitals? I don’t think so. Why are we allowing full-face coverings for people driving cars? How can you have proper vision if you can’t see? And I can tell you that you can’t, because I wore one. You’re flat out seeing what’s going on around you.
Are we that pathetic as a nation that we would give up our values and who we truly are because we’re worried about hurting someone’s feelings? I’ve seen a lot of people get their feelings hurt in this country. I’m getting fed up with the fact that we stand up for these Muslim who stand up and protest. We’ve got the Greens and others who stand up and say, ‘Good on you. You’ve got your rights,’ but we forget about the rights of Australians—ordinary citizens—who are howled down. If you oppose the whole situation, if you speak up and have an opinion in this country, you’re shut down, because those who are left leaning want to shut you down completely.
I know you’re just going to say, ‘No, we can’t.’ I’m sure that if this issue eventually goes to a vote everyone is going to vote against One Nation. We might get support from a couple of members in this house, but I know we won’t get anyone from the coalition government, we won’t have anyone from the Labor government, we won’t have anyone from the Nick Xenophon Team, we won’t have anyone from the Greens, and I doubt whether we’ll actually get Lambie backing this, and we won’t get Hinch.
I’m sure they won’t support me on this issue because I don’t believe they have the intestinal fortitude to stand up for what they truly believe and represent the Australian people. If you’re going to have some say in this, put up the facts and debate them. Let the people be heard and have their say before we lose our country. The problems that I can see in the future are huge, and they need to be debated now. We need to discuss them now, here on the floor of parliament. Stop burying them. Stop thinking that we don’t have a problem out there. As we see more Muslims coming into this country, especially those with full-face coverings, we need this legislation so that we have full facial recognition. They need to assimilate and integrate into our society, which they are not. That is the problem with the whole lot. We are seeing from that they are bringing in their other views with genital mutilation. We’ve seen the problems that is causing in our hospitals, reversal of these—they’re not operations—for these young girls and women. Is this a culture that we really want here?
We think about the Muslims, and people say, ‘They’re not all bad.’ No, they’re not, and I totally agree with that. I’ve spoken to some, a taxi driver, and he said, ‘You are so right.’ We need to stop the Islamisation of Australia. We do need to ban it. He said, ‘I was a Muslim. I am no longer, but my uncles told my father he must murder me because I’ve left the religion.’ So these people are crying out also. There are women out there, I’m sure, who would like to see the burqa banned, then they can discard the garment. Who knows, their men, maybe their fathers, their brothers, their husbands may say, ‘Well, you can’t come outside the house.’ These poor women! We have fought for women’s rights in this country. We have fought for women to have the vote. We have fought for women’s rights. Yet you’re not prepared to stand up and fight for the rights of these women, who are probably made to wear these garments? You men have no idea. It’s not going to impact on you. You can do and say whatever you want to do, but what about the women’s rights out there? Have you considered that?
Some of these women say, ‘I’ve got no problem with the hijab, the scarf.’ That’s fair enough; a lot of countries wear it, but let’s look at the whole fact. Let the people have their say on this and stop shutting down debate and having a go at people because they might put up some common sense points about this whole thing. And look at the book. I will say it again if anyone wants to read it: read Now They Call Me Infidel by Nonie Darwish. Or read Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s book Infidel. Listen to these women who have been controlled by Islam and are no longer with it. They are trying to warn us. Listen to what they have to say. I commend the bill to the house.