Religious certification

Mark Grech is a NSW senate candidate for the Australian Protectionist Party (APP) and speaks today on the practice of ‘Religious Certification’ of items found within our grocery stores and how the majority are paying for something they neither need nor likely want.

“The slaughter of an animal for the purpose of consumption is a long established practice in any civilisation – quite possibly as long as our history itself. Just how that slaughter is carried out is an important aspect of who we are as a culture, both as a people and a modern day civilisation. It is my view that some religious certifications, although necessary from a religious view point, are completely unacceptable practices in their ‘native form’.

One such example of is the practice of Halal Certification; also known as ‘blood letting’. In regards to this practice, I agree with the majority of Australians that the ‘blood letting’ of a conscious animal is both unsavoury and contravenes codes of conduct with regards to animal cruelty and their ethical treatment. I feel it may only be considered ‘humane and acceptable’ if the animal to be slaughtered is first rendered unconscious by means of electronic stunning apparatus and does not regain consciousness – meaning the animal dies whilst unconscious as a result of the blood letting.

If the process of Halal slaughter is carried out with the highest aspect placed upon the humane treatment of the animal(s), and is carried out in a manner consistent with APP guidelines(*), then it is recognised the prospect exists for the export market to benefit from this process by way of sales revenue received from Islamic nations.

* Under the guidelines of the APP, the slaughter process will be closely regulated to ensure the ethical treatment of animals is maintained. This will include spot checks, as well as CCTV feeds of the slaughter house being fed back to a central point offsite for monitoring and recording. This stance not only respects the need to humanely treat our livestock, but supports Australian jobs, the Australian people and supports our struggling livestock industry; all of which are consistent with APP guidelines. It should, however, be clearly stated that this process must undertaken on a ‘user pays’ basis; where no cost of the Halal process should be born outside of the Islamic community which it is servicing. If said market is foreign or domestic, a levy will apply to the ‘product’ in order to redeem the ‘extra’ cost of the Halal slaughter process – as opposed to regular (noncertified) slaughter.

The process of Halal slaughter should not be confused with the cost of Halal or Kosher “certification” of products in our grocery stores. This process is not structured as ‘userpays’, and conversely the cost of the certification process is added to each and every item. In this manner it becomes a ‘blanket addon fee’ to the ‘base cost’ of the item – which in no way differentiates between those customers who actively ‘want’ to purchase a certified product, versus those who ‘do not’.

Neither I, nor many others, support this manner of blanket fee being applied, and consider same to be – in essence – a religious tax placed upon our food. To counter this, it is my proposition that religious certification of Australian manufactured and imported foods should be taxed at the rate of 20% via special levy, with the proceeds directly funding our Hospitals, Public Schools, and programs to support our respected elderly.

In addition to this, I am of the opinion that the labeling of all certified product must show clearly ‘on the front’ of the package or container, that the product is indeed religiously certified – to what extend and by whom. This method will clearly identify which products are (or are not) certified; giving the general public the required information needed to make ‘a clear and concise choice’ of which brand of product they wish to purchase.

The objective of this stance is three fold:

1) Make the choice the consumer’s.
Specifically in regards to which manufacturers’ or packagers’ product they purchase, and if they wish to purchase a religiously certified product at all.

2) Ensure the slaughter process is undertaken within finite boundaries, noting the need to ensure the maintenance of ethical and humane treatment of animals in all cases.

3) Prevent the majority paying for the needs of the minority. Both by redeeming the additional cost of slaughter from the market requiring the ‘additional service.’ As well as ensuring the added cost of certification is born the packagers and food producers – which is currently paid for by everyone, yet enjoyed by the registered certification bodies – is returned back to
the community at large.

In closing: If the process of religious certification wants a place in our industries and on our grocery store shelves, then it MUST follow humane codes of conduct as well as understanding that the Australian public are not here to pay for it indiscriminately.

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