It’s the final sitting week of the parliamentary year and I was pleased to see the Senate committee report on food certification tabled in the chamber yesterday.
Many of you would know this inquiry dealt with multiple food certification schemes, but most of the interest was centred on halal certification.
It received over 1,500 submissions from concerned citizens which suggests a high level of community concern. The chattering classes were disgusted that anyone would even dare raise a question about halal and instantly labelled the inquiry racist and Islamophobic.
Those critics should be choking on their own bile right now as the inquiry found certifiers and food producers alike labelled the halal industry as being filled with con-men and scammers. Even inquiry Chair Senator Sam Dastyari – himself an original critic – came to the same conclusion. Dastyari said as much in the presentation of the report yesterday but I won’t hold my breath for the other critics to send me their apologies any time soon.
Like so many of the tribal left, the facts don’t matter just so long as you can demonise those who have a different view and try to shut down any discussion that doesn't suit your agenda.
It happens in almost every aspect of public life where too few are now willing to speak up.
A few colleagues did find their voice this week in calling for reform of Islam as a means of solving the terrorism crisis engulfing the globe. Cabinet Minister Josh Frydenberg was joined by Andrew Hastie, Andrew Nikolic and others in taking a brave public stand despite the risk of personal abuse and attack.
It wasn't long before those attacks were forthcoming, with Labor leading the way. Strangely, the press played a straight bat, which indicates we are making some progress in this vital area of sensible debate… Or perhaps it was just because it wasn't me who said it this time :)
For those of you interested in the food certification report, it's available here. It contains a number of positive recommendations which I hope the government will adopt. However, there were some areas of the report which I didn't think dealt sufficiently with substantive issues.
Thus, I submitted some ‘additional comments’ addressing further areas which were included as part of the final committee process. I hope the government listens to those points as well.
Despite some frustrations (and some lack of progress), the committee process and report should be seen as a triumph of reason over intolerance. There is still a way to go to answer a number of outstanding questions in regards to halal certification, but we have made a good start.