Wednesday, 24 August 2011
Petition: Halal Food
I have previously spoken in the parliament of the Barnabas Fund and my personal support for their work in supporting and highlighting the plight of persecuted Christians in the world. Last week the director Mr Ian Wright came to see me and handed me a petition calling on action against the imposition of halal in Australia. As I said before, the mission of the Barnabas Fund is to support Christians where they are in a minority and suffer discrimination, oppression and persecution as a consequence of their faith.
The Barnabas Fund's goal is to strengthen Christian individuals and their communities by providing material and spiritual support in response to needs identified by local Christian leaders. This petition supports the freedom of Muslims and other religious groups to access food that meets the requirements of their faith, but the point is that halal food should not be imposed on everybody. The core reason for this petition is that halal food should always be labelled as such, and that non-halal alternatives should always be available for consumers.
As Christians and others are concerned about the increased presence of halal products, the Barnabas Fund believes that as a result of this it shows the commitment of many Muslims to continue on the path of Islamisation of their non-Muslim host societies. This includes the imposition of Islamic practices on non-Muslims, of which halal food is a major instrument in the process. The imposition of sharia practices on non-Muslims may be seen by many Australians as an assertion of Islamic supremacy. This petition seeks to stop this through various measures, one of which is the labelling of all halal products.
Another point in this petition is the common belief that halal slaughter is cruel. A number of well-known animal welfare groups have consistently criticised halal methods of slaughter and they have also previously called for their prohibition. Groups such as the Farm Animal Welfare Council have publicly spoken out against the treatment of animals when being slaughtered to meet halal requirements. The Farm Animal Welfare Council also concluded that killing animals without first stunning them causes unnecessary pain and suffering. Dr Marc Cooper who is a farm animal welfare scientist from the RSPCA stated that: '… from a welfare point of view, it's an unnecessary practice. It causes pain and distress.' This petition seeks to warn Australian consumers by labelling all halal products so they have an understanding of what they are purchasing and eating.
This petition also seeks for governments not to legislate regarding the standards required for halal products, thus endorsing them by implication. It also seeks for governments and other public institutions to offer halal products only as a choice, and that those halal products should never be the only option available there. This goes back to the fundamental point of the denial of choice to consumers, and that alternatives should be provided. The petition also highlights and objects to having to pay extra for certification agency fees and other extra costs involved in the halal processes and industries. If the products are not labelled, Australians would not know if they were paying extra for the processes and agencies mentioned.
I know that the Barnabas Fund is not anti-Muslim or anti-Islam. The Barnabas Fund is simply trying to protect and support Christians through various proposed reforms. One of them is the eradication of the offence and the punishments involved in apostasy, again a point that I have made strongly in the past and continue to believe requires action around the world. The Barnabas Fund is seeking the Australian government to support this reform by encouraging other countries to follow.
In conclusion, through this petition the Barnabas Fund has framed the problem of the denial of choice to consumers, how halal foods promote the Islamisation of non-Muslim societies and the cruelty to animals involved in halal-compliant methods of slaughter. This petition seeks to solve these problems through three methods. First, governments should not legislate regarding the standards required for halal products, thus endorsing them. Second, all halal products should be clearly labelled. Third, governments and public institutions should offer halal products only as a choice and halal products should never be the only option available there.
I thank Ian Wright and the Barnabas Fund for their efforts in highlighting these important issues. I also thank all those who signed the petition. I now seek leave to table this petition.
The honourable member does not need leave to present the petition as it has been approved by the Petitions Committee. The petition is received pursuant to standing order 207(b)(iii).
The petition read as follows—
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives:
This petition of certain citizens of Australia draws the attention of the House to the need of Australians to be informed when a meat product is halal.
We support the freedom of religious groups to access food and other products that meet with the requirements of their faith but are concerned about the massive growth of Shari'a compliant products being sold to all Australians whatever their faith, often without being informed or consulted.
We do not wish to pay for halal products when a proportion of our money will go to an Islamic agency for Halal certification.
We therefore ask the House to ensure that halal food does not become the norm in Australia and to this end require the food industry to label all halal products clearly and give their customers a choice.
from 11,881 citizens.