Politics

Pauline Hanson Doesn’t Understand Halal And Other Shocking Truths From Budget Estimates

Pauline Hanson vs. Scott Ludlam wasn't even the best part.

It’s that magical time again friends: Budget Estimates. A bunch of politicians meet to grill government officials on everything from agricultural practices to seven-word Facebook statuses to the future of all those innocent people we’re torturing on Manus Island.

In the undisputed highlight of the week, One Nation leader Pauline Hanson asked staff at the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee whether cows are alive before being, uh, being killed.

Now, while the question itself is absolutely hilarious, the broader exchange actually starts off well enough and concerns the entirely valid topic of animal welfare in slaughterhouses. Hanson first confirms with agricultural official Narelle Clegg that the department monitors the slaughter and handling of cattle, before devolving into her favourite and least understood topic: halal.

Hanson: “Now, it has been brought to my attention, that under halal certification, these cattle are actually still alive when their throats are slit. [painful pause] So can you explain, in halal certification, what happens with the cow?”

hehe gotcha ya fkn nerds

Clegg: [quietly roping in someone else] “Barb do you want to…okay.”

BAIL!

Cooper: “Barbara Cooper, Assistant Secretary Meat Exports Branch. All cattle halal slaughtered are stunned prior to slaughter.”

*Johnny Cash’s ‘Hurt’ plays, mournfully*

Again, this all relates to a serious topic, with the RSPCA estimating a small number of abattoirs across the country have approval for religious slaughter where cattle and sheep generally aren’t stunned. While Hanson didn’t offer further evidence of animal cruelty, the department did agree to investigate any specific welfare concerns people might have.

But to answer that first question, yes, Pauline, the animals generally are alive before we kill them. Circle of life and all that.

The ABC Is Always A Big Hit At Estimates

As much fun as explaining the concept of death to Pauline Hanson had to be, the biggest clusterfuck of the week was last night’s ABC-focused Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee. And folks, it was a goddamn mess. 

Beaut topics included Nationals senator John “Wacka” Williams asking why non-Indigenous people couldn’t apply for Indigenous roles [just Google affirmative action John come on], Liberal senator Eric Abetz somehow still whining about Yassmin Abdel-Magied’s seven-word Facebook post, and Greens senator Scott Ludlam’s concern over the ABC’s reliance on British content, specifically Antiques Roadshow and their lobby group “Big Antique”. Fun fact: Pauline is a fan!

smash the monarchy, smash the antiques, smash ALL that is old and useless and British

Senator Williams also continued the trend of “questions with pretty obvious answers” by asking whether the ABC’s kids program Behind The News was sympathetic to ISIS.

His evidence? An extremely unconvincing Miranda Devine piece, which claims a news program bringing up such pinko-lefty-socialist points as “ISIS claiming the Paris attacks as revenge for French involvement in Syria” turned kids into terrorist cheerleaders.

ABC’s head of editorial Alan Sunderland shut that shit down quick-smart, with Ludlam telling him, “Well that’s absolutely mental and thanks for dismissing it out of hand”.

Ludlam, who looked like he was having just a super time, also got a frustrated jab in during Hanson’s grilling of Four Corners’ One Nation investigation.

The episode in question looked at the party’s reportedly brutal backroom politics, Hanson’s dealings with former senator Rod Culleton, and that plane.

As an aside, how cooked is it that the ABC has to answer for good journalism to the very people they investigated who, as Ludlam said, “looked like they broke the law”?

*Johnny Cash’s ‘Hurt’ continues to play*

Finally, One Nation got another fun, seemingly existential dig in at the nature of reality, this time at science itself.

One Nation senator and climate-change denier Malcolm Roberts demanded to know who the ABC, a media organisation, consults for scientific advise, a question that only makes sense until you think about it for maybe half a second.

For context, Roberts’ most famous appearance on the ABC was getting owned by physicist Brian Cox on Q&A, so he was never going to be super happy about all this “consulting a variety of trained scientists for sources” business.

But There Was Important Stuff!

Amidst all the #TheirABC grilling and vaguely existential questions, there were some genuinely important issues covered during this week’s estimates.

Just this morning, for example, Scott Ludlam has started questioned the Australian Federal Police on their illegal access of journalist’s metadata.

But arguably the biggest news came after Greens senator Nick McKim’s questioned the “impossible choice” for gay asylum seekers in Manus Island in an Estimates session on Monday, when Peter Dutton has refused to bring LGBTIQ people who aren’t accepted in that still vague deal by America, the ones we put there, to Australia.

Homosexuality is currently illegal in Papua New Guinea and in some asylum seekers’ home countries such as Iran. Our internment of LGBTIQ people on the island is consequently one more of our government’s profound human rights abuses.

In sum: our politicians are either fun existential goofballs, or flagrant abusers human rights. Good stuff, Australia!