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Burka backflip: Muslims will have to lift veil for checks

MUSLIM women who cover their faces will be forced to 'temporarily remove any coverings' so they can be properly identified by security staff in Parliament.

The change in policy was announced this morning as Parliament is set to reconvene in Canberra.

It overturns an earlier plan to force women with coverings to sit in a separate enclosed public gallery which is normally used by school children. 

That plan caused an outcry and an intervention from Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who is believed to have told Speaker Bronwyn Bishop that "common sense should prevail", the ABC reported.

A Department of Parliamentary Services statement on security arrangements released on Monday said it had replaced the earlier measures.

The new arrangements stipulate that all visitors entering Parliament will be required to "temporarily remove any coverings".

"That will enable security staff to identify any person who may have been banned from entering Parliament House or who may be known, or discovered, to be a security risk," DPS said in the statement.

"Once this process has taken place, visitors are free to move about the public spaces of the building, including all chamber galleries, with facial coverings in place."

Labor's manager of opposition business, frontbencher Tony Burke, said the backdown was welcome but that the Speaker and President still needed to explain why this "farce" was initiated.

A Mackay-based LNP backbencher  had earlier criticised the decision to seat women wearing burkas in glass enclosures at Parliament House.

George Christensen told AM, that "segregating people in an area probably isn't the best thing".

"I suppose [the Speaker and the Senate President] were looking for a happy medium," Mr Christensen said.

"I think what was found ... had a lot of adverse reaction more so than simply banning facial coverings in Parliament House would have.

"I think the best thing is simply to say we need to see your face in Parliament. Everyone's welcome as long as we can see your face.''

Topics:  editors picks george christensen muslim parliament tony abbott



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