Police in Australia's New South Wales state, which includes the largest city Sydney, will now have greater powers to remove the burqas or any other face coverings in order to identify criminal suspects.

Previously, police officers were only allowed such privileged while investigating serious crimes, not routine matters.

I don't care whether a person is wearing a motorcycle helmet, a burka, niqab, face veil or anything else, the police should be allowed to require those people to make their identification clear, said state Premier Barry O'Farrell.

I have every respect for various religions and beliefs but when it comes to enforcing the law the police should be given adequate powers to make a clear identification.

Refusal to show one’s face to the authorities could lead to a prison term of up to one year or a fine of A$5,500 ($5,882), according to the state’s government.

State police are happy with the change, saying it will provide clarity and certainty for both the public and for police officers.

The ruling follows a recent controversy in which a Muslim woman was acquitted of a crime after a judge determined that the veil she wore made it impossible to ascertain her identity.

While Islamic figures in the state said they accept the decision, civil liberty advocates are worried that the police are getting too much power.

If you're asked to do something by a police officer and it's legitimate, then you do it, Khaled Sukkarieh, chairman of The Islamic Council of New South Wales told ABC radio.

The state government of Western Australia is now considering adopting similar measures, BBC said.