Pauline Hanson, the Australian anti-migrant firebrand MP, has been condemned for an “appalling” stunt in which she wore a burka in Parliament as part of her push to ban it, prompting a rare standing ovation from MPs in support of a speech denouncing her.
The controversial MP, who leads the One Nation party, was widely condemned after she attended the Senate chamber in a black Islamic body covering, prompting gasps of shock from fellow MPs.
As she removed the covering, she said: “This is not what should belong in this Parliament.”
She then asked George Brandis, the attorney-general: “In light of the national security of this nation will you work to ban the burka in Australia?”
Mr Brandis responded: “No.”
During an emotional session, Mr Brandis received a standing ovation from the opposition – and applause from his fellow Coalition MPs - after he delivered a stinging rebuke of Ms Hanson.
Referring to calls by police and security agencies to co-operate with the Muslim community, Mr Brandis said: “To ridicule that community, to drive it into a corner, to mock its religious garments is an appalling thing to do.”
“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 burka when we all know that you are not an adherent of the Islamic faith,” he said.
“I would caution and counsel you with respect to be very, very careful of the offence you may do to the religious sensibilities of other Australians.”
In an uncharacteristic display of support, Richard Di Natale, the Greens leader, rose to thank Mr Brandis for “showing leadership … that is so often lacking in this Parliament”.
Sam Dastyari, a Labor MP, said in a tweet that Ms Hanson was a “disgrace” and the Senate had become a “circus”.
“George Brandis was just brilliant in the chamber,” he wrote. “Just brilliant. Strongest I have ever heard him.”
Ms Hanson rose to notoriety during her first term in Parliament in the 1990s after she claimed that the country risked being swamped by Asian migrants. But she has since turned her attention to attacking the nation’s Muslims.
Following her appearance in a burka, she released a statement saying “this was a debate that was happening across the world and Australia could not hide from a difficult conversation out of fear of causing offence”.
She later said she had considered wearing the burka into the chamber for months, saying it was “really horrible” and "uncomfortable".
"I just felt cut off from the rest of the world," she said.
The Coalition and opposition have rejected calls for a ban on the burka.
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