The burqa is no longer simply the symbol of female repression and Islamic culture, it is now emerging as a disguise of bandits and n'er do wells.
In Sydney this morning a man was robbed by a burqa wearing bandit who further disguised his (or her) identity by wearing sunglasses. The bandit was described by police as being of "Middle Eastern appearance".
Well of course he was (assuming it was a he) because the only characteristics the victim could see were the burqa and the sunglasses. Now unless the sunglasses had 'made in Iran' stamped on them, it's fair to say that the 'Middle Eastern appearance' line was attributed to the head to toe veiling of the Islamic burqa.
In my mind, the burqa has no place in Australian society.
I would go as far as to say it is un-Australian. To me, the burqa represents the repressive domination of men over women which has no place in our society and compromises some of the most important aspects of human communication.
It also establishes a different set of rules and societal expectations in our hitherto homogenous society.
Let me give you a couple of examples.
As an avid motorcyclist I am required to remove my helmet before entering a bank or petrol station. It's a security measure for the businesses and no reasonable person objects to this requirement. However, if I cover myself in a black cloth from head to toe, with only my eyes barely visible behind a mesh guard, I am effectively unidentifiable and can waltz into any bank unchallenged in the name of religious freedom.
Little wonder bank bandits in the UK are now becoming burqa bandits.
The same can be said for any number of areas where photographic identification is required. How many of us would ask for the veil to be dropped so we can compare the photo with the burqa wearer's face? I suspect the fear of being called bigoted, racist, Islamaphobic or insensitive would prevent many from doing what they would not think twice about under normal circumstances.
Put simply, the burqa separates and distances the wearer from the normal interactions with broader society.
But there is a greater reason the burqa needs to be binned.
Equality of women is one of the key values in our secular society and any culture that believes only women should be covered in such a repressive manner is not consistent with the Australian culture and values.
Perhaps some of you will consider that burqa wearing should be a matter of personal choice, consistent with the freedoms our forefathers fought for. I disagree.
New arrivals to this country should not come here to recreate the living environment they have just left. They should come here for a better life based on the freedoms and values that have built our great nation.
The burqa isolates some Australians from others. Its symbolic barrier is far greater than the measure of cloth it is created from.
For safety and for society, the burqa needs to be banned in Australia.
Cory Bernardi is a Liberal Party Senator. This article first appeared on www.corybernardi.com