Banning the burqa in public places would have widespread support among Australian voters, according to a new poll.
A ReachTEL poll released on Thursday night – only days after Pauline Hanson pulled the stunt of wearing a burqa in the Senate – found 43.6 per cent of respondents expressed “strong support” for banning the garment in public with another 12.7 per cent saying they would “support” such a move.
Of those against a ban, 18.9 per cent said they “strongly opposed” a public prohibition, while another 12.3 per cent said they “opposed” changing the law.
The poll comes one week after One Nation leader Senator Hanson was admonished for the stunt, amid warnings it could be used as fodder for Islamic extremists and undermine security authorities’ work with the Muslim community.
Attorney-General George Brandis earned praise from the Prime Minister, Labor and the Greens for his emotional speech in which he called on Senator Hanson to “reflect on what you have done”.
But despite the unified parliamentary response to the stunt, Thursday’s poll found strong support for a burqa ban across the political spectrum.
Support for a ban was strongest among One Nation voters (93 per cent), but 68.6 per cent of Liberal voters also either supported or strongly supported a ban.
Labor supporters also backed the ban, with 47.7 per cent of respondents agreeing, compared to 39.2 per cent who opposed it.
It was only Greens voters who balked at a change to the laws, with 81.2 per cent saying they would not support a ban.
The ReachTEL poll surveyed 2832 people across the country on August 23.
Respondents were asked the question: “Would you support or oppose of the Muslim cultural garment, the burqa, being banned in public places?”
A ‘trigger issue’ for many Australians
Professor Andrew Markus, who oversees the influential Scanlon Foundation Mapping Social Cohesion Survey, said the burqa was one of those “trigger issues” for many Australians.
Professor Markus told The New Daily he was not surprised by the results of the poll.
“I was looking to see if this was some sort of quick poll to get some headlines. But it’s not. It’s a large sample,” he said.
Professor Markus said while his annual survey had found consistent support for multiculturalism and immigration, Australians generally expressed a desire to see migrants “integrate”.
“Rightly or wrongly the burqa is a litmus test on the question of integration,” he said.
Senator Hanson, who claimed her burqa stunt was aimed at starting a debate, seized on the poll results on Thursday, tweeting out a link to the results.
Last week, she used a Senate debate to demand the burqa be banned on national security grounds.
Government agencies have rejected claims of a security risk, while the major parties have dismissed her calls for a ban.
On Wednesday, the Queenslander also pointed to an armed robbery in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs in which one of the alleged offenders wore a burqa to conceal their identity.
Elsewhere, Australians expressed support for the government’s plan to randomly drug test welfare recipients (67.6 per cent), while 78.7 per cent of respondents said they were “very likely” to vote in the same-sex marriage survey.
Nearly 50 per cent of respondents also said politicians who have been referred to the High Court should remain in their roles, while 39.4 per cent said they should stand down.