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Wednesday, 2 November 1983
Page: 2251

Mr O'KEEFE(7.40) —Whilst countries in the Middle East purchase millions of our sheep for meat purposes-of course, in those areas they are killed in the Moslem manner-the population in the Middle East likes warm mutton. However, over the years Australia has developed a valuable trade in chilled and frozen lamb which is air freighted to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Abu Dabi, Dubai, Oman and, of course, some other Arab areas. This trade has developed to such an extent that over $200m per annum of Australian meat is exported to this area. It is making a very valuable contribution to our trade.

It is very important to export abattoirs and the meat trade generally that Moslem halal meat, that is, stock killed in the Moslem manner, should operate without interference from any outside source. There are export works in the Paterson electorate which I represent at Gunnedah, Mudgee and Aberdeen which are all export licenced works and which kill meat in the Moslem manner for this chilled meat trade in the Middle East.

However, problems exist as present in the supply of halal slaughtermen. Halal slaughtermen are Moslems and can issue certificates that the sheep or lamb has been killed in the Moslem manner. Apparently, at present, there are two Moslem organisations that have clashed and that are operating in this area. They are known as Affic and Queerishi Moslem. They have clashed with the result that the export of our chilled and frozen lamb has been interfered with very seriously. This past week has witnessed a hold-up of valuable export meat which was to be consigned to Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, and other Eastern states. I have much pleasure in stating that during a visit to Saudi Arabia and these Eastern states last year, it was possible to arrange for some supplies of meat to be sent to particular traders in those areas. So the argument that has developed between these Moslem halal operators is certainly causing me great concern.

The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Kerin) is aware of the situation. On Monday and Tuesday of this week he had discussions with both those organisations . They are Moslem in religion, of course. Although they are opposing one another in the meat trade, they worship at the same mosque in Sydney. News has just come to hand to me this evening that the Queerishi organisation, which has been in trouble at Mudgee-Affic would not let it operate there-has now gone to South Australia. I understand that it has a licence from the Moslem people there to kill halal meat at Mudgee for which certificates will be given.

The situation is very serious, but I know that the Minister is doing all that he possibly can to settle it. It is serious because our frozen and chilled meat is being stored in these abattoirs and is not getting on to the markets overseas . So I can say only that I hope that the Minister will continue to view it in a serious manner. I know that he will, because we do not want to lose this extremely valuable trade which, as I have mentioned, represents over $200m a year. We want to continue killing these animals in the Moslem manner. I hope that the situation is soon settled.