The Daily Telegraph
September 25 2015.
LIBERAL Senator Cory Bernardi has challenged Australian national security organisations, saying they did not know if the certification of halal food indirectly funds terrorism.
The Senate’s halal inquiry heard yesterday the Crime Commission and the financial intelligence work of AUSTRAC had failed to find direct links between halal certification fees and terrorists.
AUSTRAC compliance manager Angela Jamieson said the organisation “has no information that indicates halal certification is linked to terrorism”.
But Senator Bernardi said halal certifiers were hiding their funding of terrorist groups through charities and not-for profit organisation.
“There are a number of halal certifiers who are not-for-profit bodies and that are involved in establishing mosques, schools ... they receive halal certification funds, it then flows through the system and where it ends up no one really knows,” Mr Bernardi said.
“But we do know extremist organisations in Australia are funded and they are linked in many cases back to these not-for-profit bodies.
“Surely there is a link then between some of the funding that these not-for-profit bodies receive and the end outcome of extremism in some of their organisations.”
Mr Bernardi said AUSTRAC was not tracking where halal certification money ended up and “it’s not too long a bow to draw to say the product, the profits of halal certification are linked to organisations that are not acting in Australia’s interest”.
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Senate Economics References Committee chair Labor Senator Sam Dastyari got into a heated exchange with Mr Bernardi, asking: “You have the government agency responsible for finding the money here telling us that they believe there is no reasonable link between the two. What more do you want?”
Australian Crime Commission acting strategic intelligence manager Hamish Hansford said the organisation had been on “heightened lookout” for links between halal certification and terrorism but “to date we have not found any’’.
When pressed by Mr Bernardi about indirect links between halal certification fees and terrorism, Mr Hansford said: “Wherever there is a sector with large amounts of cash being remitted there’s an opportunity for either organised crime or people sympathetic with terrorism to utilise and exploit that sector.”
Consumer advocate Kirralie Smith from Halal Choices Inc told the inquiry the evidence from AUSTRAC and the Crime Commission did not “put (her) fears to rest”.