Malcolm Turnbull has not had a good week, thanks to the Liberals’ Coalition partner the Nationals having their leader and deputy leader referred to the High Court over revelations they are dual citizens. Turnbull thought he was onto a winner on Wednesday with his defence of Australia Day in response to Yarra City Council’s decision not to recognise the day.
But his weakness on immigration and national security was exposed yet again by his reaction and that of his Attorney-General George Brandis to Pauline Hanson’s Burqa stunt in Senate Question Time on Thursday. It was quite an unorthodox stunt from Pauline as she is not normally known for doing this kind of thing, but her aim was to start of conversation on both the danger and the affront to our culture the burqa presents.
George Brandis’ shrill and triggered reaction when answering Hanson’s question about banning the burqa indicated that the Turnbull Government still does not see a problem with spread of Islam in Australia “it is vital for their intelligence and law-enforcement work that they work cooperatively with the Muslim community. And 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”.
Hanson of course was correct to highlight “the whole fact is that wearing the burka is not a religious requirement. It is a choice”. In fact, there are many Muslim women who don’t even wear the hijab. The burqa even excluding the premise that it is an Islamic garment, the fact that it covers the face therefore cutting off social interaction, more often than not is a sign of female oppression, not to mention that it is a security risk makes it an affront of Australian cultural norms. The gasps in the Senate chamber demonstrated even progressive politicians were confronted by Hanson wearing it.
Brandis also appears to be of the opinion that our strategy must be to appease Muslims otherwise they will attack us. As if our governments haven’t been making an effort to do that over past decade yet the situation is even worse. How many counter radicalisation programs have been launched in recent times?
What is telling after Brandis’ answer was that he received a standing ovation from Labor and the Greens yet most Senators on his own side stayed put. If the left is giving you an ovation then it’s a clear indication you are doing something wrong. It was pleasing that Coalition Senators didn’t feel pressured to join in hence distancing themselves from Brandis’ remarks.
Turnbull backed Brandis’ initial hysterical reaction today by claiming Australian Muslims “are our best allies in every respect. And that is why the foundation of the success of ours, the greatest, most successful multicultural society in the world, is mutual respect”. Many Australians would beg to differ with that statement.
The Turnbull government does its best to talk up its national security credentials, whether it be the creation of a Home Affairs Department or ensuring stronger citizenship requirements but it still won’t concede that the problem is with Islam, be it terror, violence against and oppression of women, persecution of other religious groups as well as their hostility to liberal democracy and western law. We were only reminded in the past 24 hours of how deadly the spread of Islam can be in western countries with the car attack in Barcelona, Spain.
But the Turnbull Government continues to fund multicultural programs and even accepts awards for its open immigration policy. It may have stopped the boats, but it is still letting in many questionable people into Australia legally through the front door. Last year a poll found 49% Australians wanted a ban on Muslim immigration, yet the major parties ignored it and reaffirmed Australia’s open immigration policy.
Pauline Hanson may have pulled a cheap stunt to get a headline, but she is not the first politician to do such a thing. If it starts a debate about an important issue then why shouldn’t she do it? Hanson has triggered her critics which is to be expected but sadly a few alleged conservative commentators. Something has to be done to counter the spread of Islam in Australia and someone has to say it which is why we should have Pauline’s back.