MELBOURNE: Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott today said that he wished the burqa "was not worn" in the country while indicating his view on backing a call for a ban on the Muslim veil for women inside parliament.
Abbott said Parliament House had to be treated as a secure building.
"It is perfectly appropriate that in certain circumstances people be required to show their face. There can't be one rule for one form of attire and a different rule for another form of attire," he said.
"It has to be the same rules for everyone and if the rules require you to show your face, well you show your face," he said adding, "This is a secure building and it is important that people be able to be identified, it is important that people be able to be recognised as the people for whom a pass has been issued".
However, Abbott stated that there was no record of the burqa ever being worn into the building.
"Has anyone ever sought entry to this building so attired? As far as I am aware, no," he said.
"And making a big song and dance about a hypothetical situation I am not sure is particularly helpful. But I just want to stress that this is a secure building and it should be
governed by the rules that are appropriate for a secure building and obviously people need to be identifiable in a secure building such as this," he said.
"I have said before that I find it a fairly confronting form of attire," he said.
"Frankly, I wish it was not worn. But we are a free country, we are a free society and it is not the business of the government to tell people what they should and shouldn't wear," he said.
The burqa debate was pushed by a politician Jacqui Lambie who had called for a widespread ban even in public places.
The call was backed by coalition backbenchers Cory Bernardi and George Christensen.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, who does not support a burqa ban in Parliament House, called on Abbott today to quieten the voices within his party "out there pushing socially divisive arguments".