Claims of halal certification funding terrorism
One Nation’s policy to ban “companies operating in Australia from paying a Halal certification tax” is based on her concern “that some of the monies indirectly supports terrorism.” This claim has been investigated by the relevant intelligence and law enforcement agencies in Australia and have concluded that no such links exist.
The Senate inquiry into third-party certification of food has heard there is no direct link between halal certification and Islamic terrorism. The evidence was given by both the Australian Crime Commission and Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), the nation's anti-money laundering intelligence agency, at the inquiry's second hearing.
Angela Jamieson is the national manager of compliance at AUSTRAC, which monitors the flow of money into and out of the country, flagging suspicious transactions and financial activity. Ms Jamieson has confirmed, "of the information identified from this monitoring of reported financial transactions, none of these have been assessed as related to funding of terrorism with regard to halal certification fees."
When Senator Cory Bernardi asked if the reason AUSTRAC had not identified any evidence was because they were not looking at halal certifiers, AUSTRAC’s Acting National Manager of Intelligence, Craig Robertson, stated "The answer to that is 'no'."
Craig Robertson goes further to confirm no evidence for the link between halal certification and terrorism exists by stating "we're not looking specifically at the use of those funds on the basis that I guess a third party outside of AUSTRAC hasn't been able to refer us information that provides evidence to look at it, and our own detection and monitoring systems of what we know about how terrorism financing occurs has not surfaced that information."
The Australian Crime Commission gave similar evidence to the inquiry. "We haven't found any direct links between halal certification and the funding of terrorism," said Hamish Hansford, the ACC's national manager of strategic intelligence and strategy. Further stating, "since this issue has been highlighted in the press, we've been on a heightened lookout for any links between halal certification in our intelligence holdings and to date we have not found any direct linkages."
Denying halal meals to prisoners and members of Defence Force
As for providing halal to prisoners or members of the Defence Force due to religious beliefs is a human rights obligation. It is no different to someone asking for kosher meals because they are Jewish.
Whether someone demands kosher, halal, vegan or vegetarian, if the request can be reasonably accommodated, it would be violation of human rights if this request was not fulfilled.
Claims of a “religious tax” being paid by consumers
Federal Agriculture Minister and Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce has in the past taken aim at the anti-halal lobby over one of their central claims – that consumers are paying more for food that is halal certified.
Critics of the Islamic certification of food claim that the money paid for it funds terrorism, and also describe it as a “religious tax”, arguing that non-Muslims are being forced to pay more for their food as a result.
The protests have attacked leading food brands such as Sanitarium, Kelloggs, Cadbury and Vegemite for being halal certified, calling for shoppers to boycott the products and last week, even the Jacob’s Creek winery was targeted following mistaken rumours that it was halal.
But Barnaby Joyce has said that the Australian livestock industry was heavily reliant on Muslim export markets and that the price of beef could triple and the sector would become unviable if the campaign against halal food ended.
“If we didn’t have the halal market for beef that could really affect thousands of meatworkers in Australia because we can sell certain amounts of cuts to certain markets, but other cuts go to Islamic markets and unless it’s halal certified we can’t sell them and that means the whole processing sector becomes unviable,” the minister said. Thousands of abattoir workers could lose their jobs, Joyce warned.