Labor believes outspoken rookie senator Jacqui Lambie’s “ill-informed” call to ban the burqa is feeding right into the hands of extremists.
The Palmer United Party senator threw her support on Friday behind Liberal senator Cory Bernardi, who used the counter-terror raids in Australia on Thursday to reignite his long-running campaign to ban the burqa.
The raids across Brisbane and Sydney resulted in 15 people being detained and one being charged with a serious terrorism-related offence.
“People can do what they want in the privacy of their own homes – but for the public safety of our children and families – remove the burqa,” Senator Lambie told SBS on Friday.
Senator Lambie also posted a provocative photo on her Facebook page of a burqa-clad person about to fire a gun.
The photo, which has attracted hundreds of likes, has the caption: “It’s time to ban the burqa”.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten rejected her comments, saying he agreed with Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull that this is exactly what the Islamic State extremists would want.
“It feeds right into their hands,” he said.
Mr Turnbull said the terrorists’ strategy is to enrage the broader community and get them to demonise the Muslim community – which will in turn cause more Muslims to support the extremists.
Mr Shorten said every politician had a responsibility to promote tolerance and respect.
“These comments from politicians have the potential to damage community harmony and inflame tensions,” he said.
“This is the worst possible time for this type of ill-informed prejudice.”
Prime Minister Tony Abbott played down Senator Bernardi’s comments on Thursday, saying Australians should not fret about what people wear.