Getting to the bottom of the halal certification racket

halal.jpgEarlier this week, I went on radio to discuss one of the issues that seems to concern many Australians - halal certification.

It is a concern that I share and have spoken about over a number of years.

Firstly, it's fair to say that there is a lack of clarity about where the facts end and the fiction begins in relation to halal certification. I haven't been able to ascertain what the cost of this religious tax is to individual companies or the overall cost to the Australian consumer.

No one has been able to explain why water, milk and cat food need halal certification. No one has been able to explain all the groups involved in the certification racket and where the money paid actually ends up.

I have seen emails from purported halal certification entrepreneurs that do not inspire any confidence in the integrity or intent of such schemes.

Earlier, I referred to this entire process as a racket. That's because I have also heard from people who have been intimidated into paying for certification even though they didn't want to.

In my view, these questions are just the tip of the iceberg.

There is a shroud of secrecy that clouds this entire matter and allows all sorts of allegations and insinuations to be made.

In other countries, halal certification schemes have been used to fund organisations linked to proscribed extremist organisations. We also know it has operated effectively as a religious tariff in order for Australian products to gain entry into certain markets.

There are also concerns from a range of people who don't like the religious slaughter of livestock or who want the option of choosing meat products that haven't been subject to ritual slaughter.

However, the people that hold such views often aren't able to make an appropriate choice because even though some lamb, goat and chicken is slaughtered halal in this country, most isn't labelled appropriately.

That's given rise to websites like Halal Choices which detail the range and breadth of products and companies linked to halal certification.

The lady behind the website, Kirralie Smith, is an amazingly brave mother who wants the facts to be out there and is now under threat by legal action.

I happen to agree with Kirralie. We need to get to the bottom of what is actually happening in relation to halal certification in Australia.

Given the competing claims and counter claims, I believe that the best means of establishing the facts is to hold a parliamentary inquiry.

Over the coming weeks, I'll be seeking the support of my colleagues to do exactly that. In the meantime, please let me know your thoughts on this topical issue and don't forget to subscribe to my weekly newsletter where you can stay up-to-date.