POLITICS

No To Burka Ban And No To The Coalition Bogeyman, A Price On Carbon

Malcolm Turnbull is not imbued with the giving spirit.

08/12/2016 10:17 AM AEDT | Updated 08/12/2016 1:21 PM AEDT

CANBERRA – Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi wants it. One Nation's Pauline Hanson intends to spend 2017 trying to secure it. Even Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, is now calling for it.

But Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has rejected calls for any sort of Australian ban on Muslim veils for women, particularly face-covering burkas and niqabs.

In a wide ranging interview with Melbourne radio host Neil Mitchell, Turnbull was asked about his position on a partial burka ban, given the new position of Merkel -- who is under intense political pressure over her acceptance of almost a million Middle East refugees.

The Prime Minister's response was swift: "You occasionally hear calls for that, but that's not something we would support or propose".

That position will disappoint Hanson, who shared Christmas cheer on Wednesday mixed with a New Year's promise to "push for a ban on Muslim immigration & a crackdown on #halalcert."

She said her policies remain as: "No Radical Islam, No #HalalCert, No Burqa and No Sharia law #merrychristmas"

Cory Bernardi, who has just returned from a long stint as a United Nations -- and a de facto Donald Trump -- observer, has been left inspired by the German Chancellor's new position.

"Some common sense from the German leader at last," the Senator wrote on Facebook. "Time for us to follow suit."

But Turnbull tied his argument to border protection as he reminded those who want to ban the burka, including within his own party, that Australia is different.

"Obviously, what you are seeing in Europe is the consequences of uncontrolled irregular migration," he told 3AW. "Europeans regrettably lost control of their borders."

"When I was in U.N. recently talking to a lot of European leaders they all talked about the way this large scale irregular migration posed a real threat to their societies to the stability of their democracies.

"That is why it is vital for us to maintain the security and integrity of our borders."

The Prime Minister also used the Neil Mitchell interview to defend his Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg over the self-created controversy over the government's climate policies and this week's mere sniff of the Coalition bogeyman, "the carbon tax".

An embarrassing U-turn has been underway since Frydenberg stated an Abbott-era government review of climate policies would "consider" an emissions intensity scheme for the electricity generation industry.

It's not a carbon tax or government policy, but it is a price on carbon within an industry -- based on emissions of an industry during a year divided by the industry's total production of electricity during the year -- to help Australia meet its climate targets.

It also, just happens, that Australia's Chief Scientist Alan Finkel is about to recommend it as the way for Australia to go.

But under the weight of a backbench revolt in fear of rising energy prices, again led by Senator Bernardi, Turnbull and Frydenberg have had to comprehensively rule out any sort of price on carbon.

"I know that everyone wants to jump on Josh Frydenberg," Turnbull declared. "He is a very capable, very talented minister.

"He works very hard and he understand that our policy is to support lower electricity prices.

"He did not advocate a change to the government's policy and the government's policy is unchanged."

The South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill has indicated the states may bypass the feds and go it alone on an emissions intensity scheme, but Turnbull said any climate scheme should be national.

State and federal leaders will meet to tomorrow at the Coalition of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting, with the Finkel review high on the agenda.

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