"In Australia, we shouldn’t have any sacred cows," writes Tory Shepherd in an opinion piece in today's The Advertiser.
“There should be nothing we’re afraid to criticise. Not the Queen, certainly not the Prime Minister, not our institutions nor our myths. Add to that halal certification.
There is a lot of money in halal certification, and a sore lack of transparency.
The story so far stars Australian Conservatives Senator Cory Bernardi and his less well-read Senate colleague Pauline Hanson who have raised a battery of charges against halal certification between them.
Hanson has gone a bit wonky, as is her wont, calling for halal-certified Easter eggs to be boycotted. Her argument was that the certification money would contribute to the Islamification of the nation.
At another point she asked senior bureaucrats whether, under halal slaughter, cows are still alive when they’re killed.
(Please take a moment to think about that.)
What she was trying to get at — not that she’s widely known for her animal welfare concerns — was that there are some exemptions and differences with halal slaughter, where a different type of stunning is used so the animal can bleed out before it dies.
The most common question is whether the money made by the certifiers — usually mosques — ends up funding terrorism.
In his latest hit at halal, Senator Bernardi has focused on the certification industry itself. He says it’s full of “rogues” and “shysters”.
“The halal certifiers, they ran like cockroaches under the fridge when the light comes on,” he said.
“They made all sorts of statements and claims and what we discovered is they are perhaps some of the most unethical people in business in this country.”
Back in 2015 Senator Bernardi successfully got an inquiry started into the third-party certification of food; the government vaguely responded but nothing has been done.
The main point of halal certification is to get that little stamp to sell meat into overseas markets.
Australian producers need access to markets in the Middle East, and closer to home in Indonesia and Malaysia.
Halal is anything that’s OK for Muslims; its opposite is “haram”. Haram products are those that are not OK — animals not slaughtered according to Islamic requirements. Also anything that’s had contact with pigs, dogs, animals with “protruding canine teeth” (like monkeys), birds of prey, alcohol, and urine and faeces. (Everyone can get on board the last couple, at least).
If you want the little sticker on your products that says “halal” you need certification.
This, Senator Bernardi says, is where the scam begins.
He says businesses are being bled (sorry) by the nature of the certification model.
There is the case of a mosque that gets most of its money from certification. About $200,000 of about $300,000 total income — and perhaps more.
Their spending listed for “halal expenses” is $300.
That raises obvious questions. Companies need the certification. The mosque provides it — at almost no cost to itself. The mosque earns a huge profit, and religions are tax-exempt.
Tracking where money goes once it is in the charity, church or mosque system is nearly impossible.
The Federal Government is considering — and has been considering, for quite some time — amending laws so there is just one certifier.
That would simplify the process, as well as the certification fees.
Through inaction, the Federal Government has allowed Senator Bernardi to drive this conversation — he revealed this week he will introduce a Bill in May to change the way certification is done."
To read Tory Shepherd’s full article, click here.
To hear Senator Bernardi explaining the federal government's inaction to Alan Jones on 2GB, click the box below:
To join the Australian Conservatives, click here.