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Wednesday 24 May 2017

Opinion

George Christensen Takes Up The Fight On Halal Certification

Paul Zanetti Sunday 4 December 2016




Last week the maverick, politically incorrect Nationals MP George Christensen rose in the parliament to rattle a few chains on Halal Certification.

No headlines, no stunts…doing the job he was elected to do for Australian consumers, who don’t want a religious tax on their groceries.

There’s really not much to do to get some action. Most of the work has been done, largely by Halal Certification activist, Kirrallie Smith, who lobbied hard for a Senate Inquiry and got one.

That inquiry went for 6 Months, wrapping up over a year ago.

Since then, the Report with its recommendations has been sitting idly on shelves in a few relevant departments waiting for the Turnbull government to act.

The recommendations of the inquiry include removing the present money flow from private Islamic Halal certifiers to nefarious end-recipients (overseas) and installing a government body with one government Halal certification process and stamp.

This simple recommendation will stop the flow from your weekly grocery budget to overseas 'religious causes' including jihadist terrorists. 

If enough elected parliamentarians get up on the floor or hold media conferences demanding action by the Turnbull government, that is all that's needed to get the end result everyone wants - NO MORE (private) Halal certification.

Nothing more needs to be 'drafted', drawn up, written, lobbied for...it's all done!

Note: Pauline. You don't need to draft something next year, which you posted on Facebook yesterday. It's all ready, wrapped up in a package, for you to raise with Turnbull.

In reply to Pauline's latest Facebook post advising followers who to vote for at the Logies this year, one follower asked:

Jan Greig : Pauline, how about taking some action on halal certification? Far more important than logie awards, I would have thought, since hc is one of the platforms that got you voted into the Senate.

Pauline Hanson's Please Explain : we're already drafting changes Jan. It's frustrating that changes don't occur overnight, but I'll be working with my team and speaking with Corey Bernadi when he returns to seek his support on my plans.

I have to agree with Pauline that it is indeed very frustrating watching her make excuses, delaying the removal of private Halal certification, by drafting some imaginary changes to something she doesn't specify or even understand.

Drafting changes to what exactly, Pauline?

This is what's known as a 'red herring'*. Simply playing games with anxious supporters.

(*red herring:
a clue or piece of information which is or is intended to be misleading or distracting).

The Report is already in, 6 months of submissions and hearings, with final recommendations have been finalised. Just push it over the line, Pauline. That means for to you to get up in the parliament, or hold a media conference and demand action.

No drafting to anything needed. It's drafted. Done. Dusted...and gathering dust. 

In contrast here's George Christensen's speech in the parliament

I rise tonight to table a petition regarding third party food certification—specifically, halal certification schemes in Australia.

I note that the petition, with 2,263 signatures, has been submitted to the Petitions Committee and deemed to be in order. I table the petition.

The petition read as follows—

To the Honourable the Speaker and Member of the House of Representatives.

This petition draws the attention of the House to a business model developed by Islamic organisations to impose 'Halal Certification Schemes' on all Australians.

We support the freedom to eat according to religious customs.

Most food is naturally permissible for Muslims and requires no additional certification.

We are concerned about the disproportional growth of halal-certified products and services and the extra cost imposed on consumers.

We are further concerned about gender and religious discrimination sanctioned by the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service, so Australian abattoirs comply with Islamic sharia law.

We ask the House to amend the Corporations Act 2001 to ensure that:

1. Products and services from halal-certified suppliers are clearly labelled as 'halal certified' to ensure consumers can make a conscious decision.

2. Any extra cost and fees associated with Islamic halal certification are born by Islamic community organisations according to the 'user pays' principle.

3. No discrimination on gender or religious grounds is practiced in Australian workplaces, unless the employer is a recognised religious organisation.

Animals in Australia (with exception of pigs) are now mostly slaughtered by Muslim males in accordance with Islamic sharia law.

It is practically impossible to buy non-halal chicken, beef or lamb.

All major players in our supply chains are now paying Islamic organisations ongoing fees.

Halal slaughter can be seen by non-Muslims as objectionable religious rite and idol worship.

We do not wish to be subjected to unwanted religious practices.

From 2,263 citizens. Petition received.

The petition calls on the government to amend the Corporations Act 2001 to ensure that: halal certification is clearly labelled, that costs associated with certification are borne by the certification organisations, and that there is no gender discrimination in workplaces unless the employer is a recognised religious organisation.

The need to have food manufacturers clearly label products that have received third party certification was the very first recommendation to come out of the Senate Economics References Committee's report,

Third party certification of food.

It is now a year since the report, which had bipartisan support, was tabled, and we are still waiting to see if the very sensible recommendations, including clear labelling, will be implemented.

Among other things, the report recommended that the halal certification industry establish a single halal certification authority and a single national registered certified trademark, and that the government, through the department of agriculture, monitor halal certification and become the sole signatory on the government halal certificate.

Two of the issues the Senate inquiry uncovered were the haphazard nature of the industry and the lack of transparency.

The inquiry was unable to establish how many halal certifiers were in Australia or how many abattoirs permit halal slaughter.

More concerning, the inquiry could not even establish the upper and lower ranges of certification fees.

I am aware, from conversations I have had with meat industry representatives, that halal certifiers are price-gouging abattoirs and it is likely that there is corruption with overseas organisations involved, and they want significant reform to deal with this issue.

And the big question: 'Where does the money go?' remains mostly unanswered.

This is an important question to which the general public wants an answer.

In the 12 months since the report was tabled, I have had regular inquiries from people in my electorate about the outcome.

Every week, I have had constituents wanting to know when the government will take action on those recommendations.

And part of the reason there is such interest is the widespread concern that money raised through halal certification could—I say 'could'—be used to fund terrorist organisations or actions that are considered extreme by the community.

The Senate inquiry tried to explore this question, without a great deal of success, simply because no-one could show where the money went.

I note that the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, the body with regulatory responsibility for anti-money laundering and counterterrorism financing, told the inquiry they had no information to indicate halal certification was linked to terrorism.

But they also said they do not follow the money.

The Australian Crime Commission told the inquiry they had not found any direct links between halal certification and terrorism financing, and yet evidence of an indirect link was freely available on the internet, as well as an admission as to why an indirect link was used.

Dr Rateb Jneid, the President of the Islamic Council of Western Australia, wrote in the council's 2013 report, posted on their website but since deleted: 'Halal subcommittee now is functional and income starts coming Alhamdulillah. Our next aim is to expand Halal certification for local and international business insha'Alla.'

He goes on to say: 'During the year ICWA has made ongoing donations to Syria because of the difficult civil conditions. The donations were through Al Imdaad charity, to ensure that no recriminations could be directed at ICWA.'

Why would the council be so concerned about recriminations? Perhaps because organisations funded through Al Imdaad, such as Hamas, are listed terrorist organisations.

Al Imdaad has supported ISIS and is directly linked to IRFAN, the International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy.

Although claiming to be a charitable organisation, IRFAN Canada transferred more than $14 million to terrorist organisations, including Hamas.

More recently, in July this year, an Australian citizen was arrested in Singapore on terrorism-related charges. Zulfikar Mohamad Shariff lived in Australia for 14 years and collected the dole while supporting Islamic State on social media, trying to convince fellow Muslims to reject the democratic, secular system that was feeding him in favour of an Islamic caliphate. Shariff started the International Halal Management company and also joined Hizb ut-Tahrir.

The confusing, messy, shadowy industry that is halal certification, with its corruption, bribes and complete lack of transparency and accountability, is the perfect cover for a radical to raise money and engage in terrorist- supporting activity.

This is why this petition is a reasonable request—a starting point—and why the Senate report recommendations require urgent action.



This morning the Halal ‘accidental activist’ Kirralie Smith posted on her blog:

SENTIMENT IS ONE THING, ACTION IS ANOTHER
Kirralie Smith   5 december 2016

Sentiment is one thing. Action is another thing altogether!

I want to again acknowledge and thank two politicians who consistently listen and act appropriately for the people who elected them.

George Christensen MP (Nationals) and Senator Cory Bernardi (Liberals) have for the past 7-10 years drawn attention to, and worked on practical solutions to counter the growing concerns of halal certification and Islam in Australia.

These two men deserve credit for following through.

They are not politicians who grandstand or spruik popular sentiment - they are men of action who carefully think through the issues and have a plan that can be implemented.

They have researched, talked to businesses and consumers, they have asked hard questions and they have worked out ways to practically offer solutions.

Do not underestimate how difficult that is to achieve. Senator Cory Bernardi was able to successfully initiate a Senate inquiry into Third Party Certification of Food.

It was voted for with the support of over 30 fellow senators and the recommendations were delivered with bipartisan support. This is a great outcome and will benefit businesses and consumers.

The government is still dilly-dallying and passing the recommendations around from department to department with no action to date.

I have spent the past two months contacting politicians and trying to get some action.

Senator Cory Bernardi has been in New York and unable to act but George Christensen has done a marvellous job of taking up the issue. You can read his speech here:

http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/genpdf/chamber/hansardr/f30e7743-6615-4360-8f82-11ec68352a9b/0168/hansard_frag.pdf;fileType=application%2Fpdf

I want to mention the fact Paul Zanetti wrote an opinion piece over the weekend and it has caused quite a storm!

http://www.zanettisview.com/story/pauline-hanson-please-explain/3823

It is his personal opinion, hence called an opinion piece. There have been hundreds of comments left on his page and also on the Pickering Post. I am not going to get into a slanging match but I will clarify a few points:

1. I have offered in writing and over the phone to assist Pauline Hanson so she can understand what is required regarding the next steps.

She did not make a submission to the senate inquiry and does not seem to understand the implications of the recommendations.

I contacted her office many, many times to offer my advice and expertise but it was ignored.

When I finally did get to speak with Pauline I explained that all the work has been done. 1500 submissions were made, a 6 month inquiry was held and there were three days of hearings.

All the angles have been covered, all the issues raised. The end result is that there are more questions than answers but the senate, both Labor and the Coalition came up with excellent recommendations that will work for businesses and consumers alike.

She does not need to reinvent the wheel, draft another 'policy' position, make detailed statements. All that is required is to highlight the fact the government is yet to act and pressure them to do so.

2. Some people constantly criticise me for not joining with or working with Pauline Hanson.

I have tried. I have sent at least 10 emails and called several times. I have personally spoken to Pauline and offered to educate her about the halal certification industry.

I have done this behind the scenes and I have copped the flack from people who don't know/understand what is going on.

I have tried and tried and I am now sharing this because I want action for you. George Christensen and Cory Bernardi are two politicians who listen, consider many aspects, do their own research and act.

They don't care that I am a member of another political party, they only care that we ensure action is taken that benefits as many Australians as possible.

3. I have worked hard on representing consumer and business concerns regarding halal certification. I don't care whether I get recognition or not, I just want action!

We are so close to getting this ball over the line! I have offered my knowledge, research and time to assist in any way I can.

I have volunteered my time and research (at great cost to my family) for the past 6 years.

The ONLY thing that needs to happen now is for the government to act and implement these recommendations. I have no ambition to be a politician, my ambition is simply to make a difference. If that means assisting others to do their job I have proven over and over I will do so.

If that is not enough for you, it doesn't bother me. I have given everything I have to see this through and I have no intention of falling short of the mark.

I will continue to push the government to act on the senate recommendations.

I will highlight the fact it cost hundreds of thousands of tax payer dollars and that the recommendations are reasonable, practical and achievable.

I will defend the defamation case that is enormously costly and important - not just for me but for all Australians who are concerned about halal certification and free speech. I will continue to educate and speak out about Islam, political correctness, and conservative issues. I will use whatever platform I am granted to do so.

Thank you to all who encourage me, support me, stand with me and enable me to do what I am doing. You mean a great deal to me. But even if I were the only one, I would still do what I am doing because I believe it is the right thing to do!


In fairness to Pauline Hanson, I decided to take a look at her Facebook page to see if she had posted any updates on her plans for next year in regard to her pre-election promise: NO MORE Halal Certification.

Here’s Pauline's latest post:

Votes for the 59th Logie Awards are on. I've already put my vote behind Paul Murray for Best Presenter. Help me support Paul for his show Paul Murray Live by voting.

That would be the Waleed Aly Gold Logie TV Logie Awards.

Maybe less celebrity posts and more actual policy and strategy updates. Even simple explanations to supporters about what’s being done and the plans Pauline Hanson has in place to deliver on promises, if there are any.