Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce says banning the burka could damage Australia’s trade relations with Islamic countries, including Saudi Arabia and Indonesia.
- George Christensen calling for burka to be banned in Parliament buildings, Government offices
- He wants to debate the matter at the Nationals conference in Canberra
- Barnaby Joyce warns it could have unintended consequences, insult trading partners
His comments cast doubt on Nationals MP George Christensen’s bid to ban the Islamic garb in Parliament buildings and in Government offices or departments.
Mr Christensen wants the matter to be debated at the party’s national conference in Canberra on Sunday, but has to convince his colleagues to vote against his party leader, Mr Joyce.
“I love the democracy of my party,” Mr Joyce said.
“George is a good mate but we don’t necessarily agree on every issue. I do a lot of business into Indonesia, I do a lot of business into Saudi Arabia, and I want to make sure we continue to do that.
“When I go to Saudi Arabia and Indonesia — and I have a good close working relationship — they have never asked me once to become a Muslim and I have never asked them once to become a Christian.
“They don’t insult me and I’m going to make sure that I don’t insult them.”
The Federal Government has made it clear it will not be banning the burka.
Attorney-General George Brandis received bipartisan applause in Parliament last month when he rebuked One Nation leader Pauline Hanson’s call for a similar ban.
Senator Hanson’s decision to wear a burka into the Senate chamber has prompted a rethink about dress standards in Federal Parliament.
Mr Christensen said he was confident he can get enough support to bring on a debate on Sunday.
“I think there will be enough support to have a vote but obviously it’s going to be a hotly debated item, so we will see what happens tomorrow,” Mr Christensen said.
But Mr Joyce urged caution from his colleagues warning of unintended consequences.
“It could stir the possum out of the tree that you didn’t want to toss out,” he said.