POLITICS

Senate Standards May Have To Be Raised After Hanson's Burqa Stunt

The Upper House may get a dress code and a 'time out'.

04/09/2017 1:00 PM AEST | Updated 04/09/2017 1:00 PM AEST
Andrew Meares/Fairfax
Pauline Hanson wears a burqa during question time at Parliament House in Canberra on Thursday 17 August.

CANBERRA -- Pauline Hanson's 'ban the burqa' stunt may have been denounced pretty quick by Attorney-General George Brandis as "appalling", but there will be further repercussions -- including a possible new dress code for the Senate and a 'time out' for recalcitrant senators.

And this may have implications for Senators visually supporting a cause or wearing sporting attire when supporting teams and codes, too.

During the break between parliamentary sitting weeks, Senate President Stephen Parry has been pondering whether the effort to get the full body Islamic garb banned breached security -- and therefore the safety of those in the chamber -- as well as the Senate's dress code.

Hanson dropped jaws last month when she entered the senate, accompanied by fellow One Nation senator Brian Burston, and sat in her usual seat wearing the black burqa purchased by a staffer on eBay.

The ensuing high farce in Parliament made international headlines, but Hanson failed to adequately explain how her stunt proved that the garb was a security threat and therefore the "need" for a ban.

The Attorney-General immediately warned the One Nation leader about the dangers of mocking Islam, while Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young told Hanson that the next terrorist attack would be on her head.

Parry told the Denate on Monday that, despite being concealed, he was certain Hanson was identified before entering the Upper House and made it clear that her actions did not endanger the safety of the Parliament at any stage.

Hanson's identity was primarily established through Senator Burston.

But he said there is no dress code in the Senate and this may have to change. Parry raised previous instances where Senators have worn sporting attire or something in support of a specific cause, but he did not have the power to order removal.

He has ordered the removal of garments with logos and other promotional material. Parry has written on Monday to the Senate Standing Committee on Procedures asking it review the Upper House's dress code.

The questions include whether a dress code indeed needs to be set. While we wait for a response, Parry wants senators to have an "eye to the dignity" of the Senate.

Parry said he was unable to respond to Hanson's stunt on the day because there was no breach of the standing orders, but a revision of the rules may introduce a 'time out' for senators.

"From a personal perspective I am disappointed that senate will be asked to consider implementing rules rather than rely upon the personal discretion and good judgment of all senators," Parry told senators.

The Senate President said he is referring the matter to the committee as it is something for all senators to decide, not just himself.

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