Pauline Hanson has taken senior bureaucrats to task over whether cows are still alive when they’re slaughtered under halal certification.
‘‘It has been brought to my attention that under halal certification, these cattle are actually still alive when their throats are slit,’’ the One Nation leader put to agriculture officials at a Senate hearing last week.
A department staffer said all cattle halal-slaughtered in Australia were stunned beforehand.
But Senator Hanson said she had been told otherwise.
‘‘I have been advised that is not the case. In one of the slaughterhouses the cow is still alive when its throat is slit,’’ she said.
The department vowed to investigate any incidents of animal welfare concerns.
But agriculture officer Narelle Clegg then stepped in to clarify the process.
‘‘Senator Hanson, the other point to make is that animals are alive when they’ve been stunned. It’s just that they’re unconscious,’’ Ms Clegg said.
‘‘So animals will be slaughtered when they’re alive, but they will have been stunned first. So they’re not like you and I at the moment, they’re like you and I when we’ve been knocked out.’’
The vast majority of halal slaughter in Australia complies with standard practice, where all animals are stunned beforehand, according to the RSPCA.
‘‘The only difference with halal slaughter is that a reversible stunning method is used, while conventional humane slaughter may use an irreversible stunning method,’’ a spokesperson said.
However, a small number of abattoirs in Australia, which are authorised by state food authorities, have an exemption to kill cattle and sheep without stunning them first for either halal or kosher slaughter.
The RSPCA believes there are eight abattoirs across three states with approval for such religious slaughters.
‘‘For cattle, stunning is still required but this occurs immediately after the throat is cut,’’ the spokesperson said.
‘‘For sheep, stunning is not required except where the animal is distressed or does not rapidly lose consciousness, in which case they must be immediately stunned.’’