Shechita and NSW

July 13, 2011 Agencies
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NSW Labor challenged the O’Farrell Government to explain their position on shechita (kosher ritual slaughter) after the Premier’s Office last week refused to pledge their open support for the practice.

Steve Whan

The call was issued by Shadow Primary Industries Minister Mr Steve Whan and State Labor backbencher, Walt Secord.

Media have reported that “the Premier’s Office declined to offer explicit support for shechita”.

Walt Secord

A spokesperson for the Premier Barry O’Farrell also said: “The NSW Government welcomes further advice and ongoing dialogue with the Kashrut Authority of NSW.”

Mr Whan said: “the previous Labor Government did not restrict Jewish dietary practice and the O’Farrell Government must give an iron clad commitment that it will allow this religious practice to continue.”

“Kosher slaughter is subject to strict government regulation and inspection. Australia has very high standards. In fact, there was a review in 2009 by the Rudd Government which agreed to allow ritual slaughter to continue,” Mr Whan said.

Mr Secord said the comments coming from Barry O’Farrell’s office are “alarming”. “I hope that they do not indicate a movement away from this religious tradition by the new O’Farrell Government. These comments give rise to more questions than they answer.”

“Make no mistake, Barry O’Farrell has to say clearly and unequivocally that his Government has no plans to change the current laws as they relate to schechita; it’s as simple as that,” Mr Secord said.

Last month, the Netherlands moved against the practice and last December, in New Zealand, the government attempted to ban it. Just last week, animal rights lobbyists in Victoria advocated a ban.

On June 17, Mr Secord asked a series of formal Questions on Notice in the NSW Parliament to the NSW Primary Industries Ms Katrina Hodgkinson – who has ministerial responsibility for kosher and halal slaughter in NSW. The questions were lodged for the recent debate.

Under the Parliament’s Standing Orders, the Minister has until July 17 to lodge a formal response to a number of questions including:

How does the Government oversee the halal and kosher slaughter of animals in New South Wales? Does the Government have any plans to curb or restrict kosher and halal traditions of animal slaughter? Will the Government allow halal and kosher practices to continue in New South Wales?

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