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Monday, 7 November 2016
Page: 3039


Mr CHRISTENSEN (DawsonChief Nationals Whip) (13:22): I second the motion. Most Australians would view forced marriages, especially those involving girls as young as nine, as historical events that happened in foreign countries and foreign cultures, but the reality is that forced marriages are happening right here in Australia, and they appear to be happening more frequently. In the last financial year the Australian Federal Police investigated 69 cases of forced marriage—more than double the number of investigations in the previous year. It is hard to be sure if the incidence of forced marriage is dramatically increasing, or if they have been happening all the time and only the incidence of reporting has dramatically increased.

Last week, Iraqi-born Sydney woman Bee al-Darraj reported that she left home because she was being forced into marriage at the age of 15. Ms al-Darraj said some of her friends and relatives at Al-Faisal high school in the Western Sydney suburb of Auburn were being married off in their teens. She cited the specific case of a girl being married at the age of 13 and giving birth in the public hospital at the age of 14.

I do congratulate the member for Moreton for bringing this issue to the parliament. I also note, though, that the member for Moreton has in the past been quite critical of me in raising issues relating to radical Islam, and I have to say that I do find this one of them. We should not gloss over the fundamental issue here: there are some Australian residents who have migrated to this country believing that they could supplant Australian law with a foreign religious or cultural law, and that includes forcing children into marriage. It includes so many other things—the barbaric practice of female genital mutilation, flogging people or killing them for apostasy, honour killings and so on. And it includes prioritising Sharia law above Australian law.

I have to give credit to the former Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, who was a man who got it. He understood how dehumanising forced marriages could be, and he went on to introduce specific offences to the Criminal Code regarding forced marriages. He also recognised that we needed to draw a line in the sand on what was driving these cases, and that was Sharia law. He said:

As our citizenship pledge makes clear, coming to Australia means obeying Australian laws and upholding Australian values. Australia's brand of multiculturalism promotes integration. If there is any inconsistency between cultural values and the rule of law then Australian law wins out.

Robert McClelland was not afraid of saying what many in this place are now too afraid to mention because we are paralysed by political correctness. It is political correctness that prevents discussion about the fundamental cause of forced child brides, female genital mutilation and all of these other things that we are witnessing that are abhorrent here in this country and that are completely against our culture and our way of life. If we are fair dinkum about equality, we have to strip away that political correctness and be bold enough to come out and say that the Australian way of life is 100 per cent at odds with the way of life of radical Islam. We must be bold enough to say that we do not accept Sharia law in any way in this country. There is one set of laws in Australia, and Australian law applies to all Australians.

When immigrants come to Australia they are choosing to be subject to Australian law, and any other foreign religious or cultural baggage should be left at the door. We need to talk about how to ensure that that baggage is left at the door, and I believe the first step we need to take is to no longer accept immigration from countries where there is a high prevalence of radicalisation or violent terrorism. Opening the door to a free flow of people from these countries is an open invitation to those who are diametrically opposed to our culture and who despise us and our very way of life. We do not need to send out open invitations to those who seek to do us harm. I believe that those who do come to this country should be required to answer under oath a series of questions about their support or otherwise for concepts such as forced child marriages, female genital mutilation and other aspects of Sharia law and, if they support these practices, then they are free to seek refuge in other countries or the citizenship of other countries where such practices are permitted.

Signing up to become a citizen of this country should include a rejection of all foreign laws—religious, cultural or otherwise—that are in conflict with Australian law. Sharia law does not trump Australian law. Political correctness does not trump Australian law. Political correctness should not stop us from upholding and enforcing Australian law, including for those who have come voluntarily to this country. Special consideration should be given to anyone who, having signed up to Australian citizenship or permanent residency and our law, breaks our law out of compliance with a foreign religious or cultural law—including such as forcing a child into marriage. They should forfeit their citizenship or their residency and return to a place where Sharia is the law of the land. There is no room for Sharia in Australia. (Time expired)