Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton isn’t head over heels that he helped scuttle a motion in favour of a burqa ban at The Nationals’ federal conference.
The MP and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives thinks it might not be an end to the matter. Mr Coulton spoke and voted against the motion that sought to implement a “ban on facial coverings in government buildings and where possible public places, excluding places of worship, where it assists with security and public safety”. “I certainly knew it was code for burqa and if The Nationals had voted for this on Sunday then the party would have been labeled anti-Muslim and anti-burqa,” he said. “I fought very hard for that not to be the case and the motion was defeated.”
Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen’s motion went down by four votes. But he is promising to pursue the ban while insisting that his party is "bleeding to the right" on issues such as the burqa. Mr Christensen’s motion followed One Nation leader Pauline Hanson’s decision to wear a burqa into the Senate. “As my local electorate and the LNP's (Liberal National Party) Dawson branch strongly support a ban on facial coverings, I will continue to push for this to be government policy,” he said.
But Mr Coulton said the burqa was “not an issue for the towns I represent”. “There is the odd person wearing a full burqa but the Muslim women we see around Dubbo have head scarves on and their faces are uncovered,” he said. Mr Coulton said people should be more concerned about criminals wearing sunglasses and hoodies who break into homes and businesses. “If we start singling people out for their religious beliefs, we’re on a slippery slope,” he said.