ONE Nation Senator Pauline Hanson has delivered a speech calling for a burqa ban and accusing Labor of "pandering to the Muslim vote".

It follows LNP Senator and Attorney-General George Brandis warning her to be respectful of religious sensibilities and saying ridiculing the Muslim community was "appalling".

Senator Hanson said she wanted the government to ban "full face coverings" in public places.

"No one should be permitted behind a veil of secrecy while there is a security concern," she said.

"Our laws are outdated and we need new ones like a ban on full face coverings.

"While it is an offence in most states in Australia to be disguised with unlawful intent, it is self-evident that the two years jail is not a deterrent for a suicide bomber."

She said the ban was needed to prevent terrorism.

George Brandis was savage in his condemnation of Pauline Hanson. Picture: AAP
George Brandis was savage in his condemnation of Pauline Hanson. Picture: AAP

"We need laws to stop terrorism before it happens and the ability of others to see a face is an important part of assessing that risk," Senator Hanson said.

"Full face coverings, like a niqab or burqa, take away a valuable source of information from counter-terrorism experts and ordinary Australians.

"How can you justify the ban on wearing a helmet or a balaclava into banks but let someone wear a niqab or burqa?"

She claimed that "the Muslim vote" determined the electoral outcomes in up to 15 lower house seats, before accusing Labor of "pandering to the Muslim vote".

"My message to those who want to live under Sharia Law is to migrate to an Islamic country but don't come here to Australia," she said.

"The meaning of the Islamic veil, niqab or burqa has varied over time but what has never changed is the way the wearer is separated from everyone else.

Pauline Hanson wearing a burqa while a bemused George Brandis looks on
Pauline Hanson wearing a burqa while a bemused George Brandis looks on

"This separation is a barrier to the formation of relationships so necessary to integrate into the Australian way of life.

"I want to say that everyone has the right to their own religious beliefs but it is only Islam that threatens our way of life."

Senator Hanson delivered her speech to an almost empty Senate Chamber, with just two Coalition Senators, two ALP Senators, Senator Jacqui Lambie and her three One Nation colleagues present.

Senator Brandis had earlier pulled her up for pulling a "stunt" by wearing a burqa into Senate Question Time.

"I'm not going to pretend to ignore the stunt that you have tried to pull today by arriving in the chamber dressed in burqa when we all know you are not an adherent to the Islamic faith," he said.

"I caution you and counsel you, Senator Hanson, with respect to be very, very careful of the offence you may give to the religious sensibilities of other Australians.

"We have about half a million Australians in this country of the Islamic faith and the vast majority of them are law abiding good Australians.

"To ridicule that community, to drive it into a corner, to mock its religious garments is an appalling thing to do."

He warned her attacking the Muslim community was a risk to national security.

"I can tell you, Senator Hanson, that it has been the advice of each director-general of security with whom I have worked, and each division of the Australian Federal Police with whom I have worked, that it is vital for their intelligence and law enforcement work that they work cooperatively with the Muslim community," Senator Brandis said.

Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Penny Wong commended the Attorney-General for his response to Senator Hanson.

"The sort of bigotry and divisiveness we saw displayed by Senator Hanson today has no place in our society. It certainly has no place in our parliament," Senator Wong said.

"It is one thing to wear religious dress as an act of faith. It is another to wear it as a stunt. That can only give offence and divide.

"Nobody needs to defend Senator Hanson's right to speak. The people that need defending are the people she attacks.

"Leaders have an obligation to stand up for the people in Australia who do not have a voice and today the Parliament did so."