Pauline Hanson has won a political victory with her Senate colleagues backing her campaign for Muslim-friendly halal-certified foods to be more clearly labelled.
Many meats and popular supermarket products including Vegemite and Cadbury chocolates are halal certified, which means consumers are funding Islamic schools and mosques.
The One Nation leader’s call for more transparency on Muslim-friendly foods comes 18 months after a Senate inquiry called for food manufacturers to more clearly label third-party certification.
Senator Hanson said it was about time the Senate inquiry’s recommendations, published in December 2015, were put into practice.
‘Australians are waiting for this to be implemented,’ she told parliament.
Australian Conservatives leader Cory Bernardi, who initiated the 2015 inquiry into halal foods, said the meat industry needed certainty.
‘They’re looking for certainty in the meat industry, it’s about time that they reported on it,’ he said.
‘It’s far too long and so I think Senator Hanson’s quite right to bring it to the attention of the chamber.’
Senator Bernardi also hit out at Labor for distancing itself from Senator Hanson’s halal-labelling campaign when Labor’s Sam Dastyari had chaired the inquiry into it.
‘It’s all good and well for the Labor Party to distance themselves from the report now but it was endorsed by their chairman,’ he said.
Greens leader Richard Di Natale tried to make the debate about Senator Hanson’s recent comments saying autistic children should be in separate schools.
‘Senator Hanson and Senator Bernardi should worry less about the eating habits of other Australians and more about the needs of our children in schools,’ he said.
Senator Nick Xenophon was more measured, arguing that while he supported the halal industry, he was in favour of clearer labelling.
Pauline Hanson’s motion was last week passed on a show of voices in the Senate.
It means Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s cabinet will have to examine ways of improving existing halal certification regulations.
The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils halal certifies Vegemite and funds Islamic schools, including the Malek Fahd Islamic School in Sydney’s west which has recently lost $19 million in federal funding.
Adelaide Muslim Shia Imam Shaikh Mohammad Tawhidi is opposed to halal certified foods being sold in Australia’s major supermarkets, arguing they should be sold in specialty Muslim shops instead.
Halal is an Arabic word meaning something is permissible in Islam.
Processed food that is halal certified doesn’t contain or pork or alcohol derivatives while meat with this clearance has been slaughtered in accordance with Islamic tradition.
Food producers pay a fee to third-party halal certifiers, which include Islamic groups and mosques.