Lambie's burqa ban would make it illegal to cover your face

PUP Senator Jacqui Lambie speaks during Senate question time at Parliament House in Canberra, Tuesday, July 8, 2014.
PUP Senator Jacqui Lambie speaks during Senate question time at Parliament House in Canberra, Tuesday, July 8, 2014. AAP Image - Lukas Coch

BURQA-wearing Australians would face a fine of up to $3400 under a new law to be introduced by firebrand Palmer United Party Senator Jacqui Lambie.

The private members bill she intends to introduce, named Full Face Coverings Prohibition in Public Places, would not be limited just to Muslims who wear burqas or niqabs.

These Lambie laws would ban all "full face coverings" in Australia, unless they have a "reasonable excuse".

The legislation makes no comment on what a reasonable excuse is, except that it's up to the accused to prove that they have one.

Beyond the $3400 on-the-spot fine for those who "have worn any identity concealing garments in public unlawfully", the Senator also wants serious fines and potential jail terms for those who "force or intimidate" anyone else into wearing something that covers their face.

Examples of the niqab
Examples of the niqab

Adults who force another adult to wear "identity concealing garmnets" would face a fines of up to $34,000 or six months in prison.

Those who force children to cover their faces would face up to 12 months in prison or fines of up to $68,000.

"Religious excuses will not be accepted as reasonable exemptions or lawful defence," Ms Lambie said in a statement, because "the wearing of full-facial coverings is not mandated in any holy book".

"For basic security reasons and the need for assimilation, identity-concealing garments should not be allowed in Australian public or Parliament house," Ms Lambie said.

"Once again, our enemies will laugh at us. France, Belgium and Turkey (an Islamic country) have all sorted this problem out. So can Australia.

"All it requires is some simple legislation, some courage and pride in the Australian culture."

A woman wearing a traditional burqa
A woman wearing a traditional burqa ©

There would be exceptions for people wanting to cover their faces in their own homes or in certain "places of worship".

The laws would be based on those adopted in France that ban the wearing of the burqa in public.

In 2010, Reverend Fred Nile attempted to introduce similar laws for New South Wales which was unsuccessful.

A month later, South Australian MP Robert Such wanted to introduce laws allowing businesses and other sites to put up signs warning that those covering their face would not be allowed in.

It also failed.

Topics:  editors picks jacqui lambie

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