In all the hoo-haa of budget week Senator Cory Bernardi managed to put forward and win an inquiry into third party certification schemes in Australia. This is great news. It includes, but is not limited to, halal certification.

From the official Government website these are the terms of reference for the inquiry:

On 13 May 2015, the Senate referred the following matters to the Economics References Committee for inquiry and report by 30 November 2015:

a)  the extent of food certification schemes and certifiers in Australia including, but not limited to, schemes related to organic, kosher, halal and genetically-modified food and general food safety certification schemes;

 b)  current labelling requirements of food certification schemes;

c)   the need for labelling on products produced by companies that pay certification fees;

d)    whether current schemes provide enough information for Australian consumers to make informed purchasing decisions;

 e)   details regarding certification fees paid by food producers and/or manufacturers, and the potential for these to impact on prices for consumers;

 f)   the importance of food certification schemes in relation to export market access and returns to producers;

g)    the extent and adequacy of information available to the public about certifiers including, but not limited to, certification processes, fees and financial records; and any related matters.

The website to start making submissions is up and running!

http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Economics/Food_Cert_Schemes

If you have any concerns what-so-ever with halal certification now is your chance to be heard. The time for having a whinge on the Pickering Post, or commenting on social media, or grumbling to your spouse over brekky is past. Now you need to act and be heard. The government must read and act on the submissions. They will note/read social media comments to reach a decision. But they will take the submissions seriously.

PLEASE take your time to read through the terms of reference carefully. Your submission must directly relate to these. It may be all of the terms of reference, or just a few. But it is important to note it must directly relate.

Take your time to carefully word your submission. Be factual and courteous or you will not be taken seriously. Your opinions, experiences, beliefs and ideas are valid and important.

Whether your concerns are to do with where the money goes, or how you feel discriminated against because of your own religious beliefs, or the lack of choice because of labelling, or many other concerns, they are valid and worth communicating!

This is your time. This is the opportunity you have waited for. Write your own submission and spread the word. Ask others to also write theirs. Ask your butcher and local abattoir workers and retailers and more to write in. Don't waste this chance to have your say. You will be heard. It is so important this inquiry hears from a wide variety of people.

I also understand you can make a confidential submission but you must make this very clear at the beginning of your submission.

You have until 31st July so there is no rush. But please don't put it off. Start writing out your thoughts today. Add to them in the coming weeks and then form your submission according to the terms of reference.

Please act. The responsibility now lies with you. There is a real chance here to make a difference. Don't have any regrets. Don't let this opportunity pass. If you have ever complained about halal certification then this is your way to ensure that you will be heard.