A senior Australian politician has courted controversy by saying that he would not “encourage” people to wear the burqa because “it is not part of our culture”.
Colin Barnett, the Premier of Western Australia, said the government had no plans to ban the Islamic veil worn by many Muslim women.
But he told the online newspaper WAToday: "I would encourage people not to wear that type of clothing in Australia and as Australian citizens.“
He added: "It is not part of our culture. I think in most countries now you don't find it's the case."
The Burqa has been a hot topic in Australia over recent weeks after Pauline Hanson, the leader of the far-right One Nation party, called them an “evil tool of oppression”.
She said she would ban the burqa from all official buildings if her party wins the Queensland election.
Asked about Mr Barnett's statements, Ms Hanson told ABC News it appeared the government was changing position on the issue.
"It is a shift, from what we possibly haven't heard him say anything at all in the past," she said. "It is up to the people, and I think the people should have their say in this. Political correctness has to be thrown in the rubbish bin where it belongs."
Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has previously said face coverings should be banned from certain places.
But he insisted the matter was of national security and not religious prejudice.
"There are obviously environments where it’s important for people’s faces not to be covered for identity reasons," he told 4BC Radio. “The fundamental rule has got to be safety first... This has got nothing to do with religion or any of that. It is a simple, practical matter.”
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies