'I feel for these women': Pauline Hanson defends burqa stunt, says she wasn’t ID checked before entering senate

One Nation senator Pauline Hanson says she has no regrets over her decision to wear a burqa into the Senate chambers on Thursday, despite condemnation from across the political spectrum.

Pauline Hanson in a burqa

Pauline Hanson in the Senate on Thursday. Source: SBS

Senator Hanson on Friday said she had not received any negative feedback from the Muslim community, referencing a message she says she received from a Saudi Arabian woman in support of her push to ban the Islamic garment.

“I feel for these women. I wore that burqa for half an hour and I couldn’t wait to get it off,” she told reporters at Parliament House on Friday.

“And yet we expect women to wear it in our climate, covered up. Why? Because they're being forced to, by men?”

The burqa stunt was strongly criticised by the government’s Attorney-General George Brandis, who called it an “appalling thing to do”. He received a standing ovation from Greens and Labor senators on Thursday. 

But on Friday Senator Hanson said she stood by her actions.

“Wouldn't change a thing,” she told the Seven Network in a morning Sunrise interview.

“I'm not embarrassed by what I did. I've created debate over it, which needed to be done.”

Pauline Hanson at Question Time
Pauline Hanson during Question Time on Thursday August 17. Source: AAP

The One Nation leader also denies she had her identity checked before she entered the chamber.

 “No I wasn’t,” she said. “That is incorrect.”

“At no stage did I lift my veil on the burqa to disclose it was actually me.”

The Office of the Black Rod, which runs Senate proceedures, confirmed to SBS World News that Senator Hanson was stopped by a Senate attendant who asked to clarify her identity. 

Her One Nation colleague Senator Brian Burston told the attendant the woman in the burqa was Pauline Hanson.

She was then allowed into the chamber, without needing to reveal her face. 

The Black Rod also said there were no rules around how senators can dress in the chamber, citing examples like Senator Pat Dodson's iconic hat, and some hastily arranged lunchtime sessions that have caused senators to appear in their gym clothes. 

But the Senate standing orders do ban anyone who is not a "senator, a clerk at the table or an officer attending on the Senate" from entering. 

The President of the Senate, Stephen Parry, told the assembled chamber it was Senator Hanson in the burqa. 

“Senators, I've been advised by the clerk via the attendant that the identity of Senator Hanson was established before she entered the chamber,” Senator Stephen Parry said.

3 min read
Published 18 August 2017 at 9:22am
By James Elton-Pym
Source: SBS