SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — New Zealand’s Jewish community is mounting a legal case against the country’s new law banning kosher slaughter.
Community spokesman David Zwartz told JTA last Friday that an agreement between the community’s working group on shechitah and Agriculture Minister David Carter “could not be reached.”
Carter announced the ban in late May, overruling advice from the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee to exempt shechitah from a new Animal Welfare Slaughter Code. The law leaves New Zealand’s 7,000 Jews without access to kosher chickens; kosher meat can be imported from Australia.
“The minister is firm in his resolve to preserve his position, which does not give the Jewish community a secure continuing supply of kosher meat,” Zwartz said. “This is disappointing and has meant turning to progress the work on a legal action.”
A leading law firm has been engaged and has prepared draft proceedings, Zwartz said.
“These are currently being reviewed by a Queens Counsel, and a final decision will be made following receipt of his advice,” he said.
The legal case is likely to center on the law’s apparent violation of New Zealand’s Bill of Rights, which protects the right to a person’s religion, and its possible breach of the Animal Welfare Act, which contains provisions for religious rights.
Jewish leaders met on the issue in mid-June with Prime Minister John Key, whose mother was a Jewish refugee who escaped Austria on the eve of the Holocaust. A spokesperson for the six-member delegation said at that time that the small Jewish community would be left with “no option” but to take legal action “if there was no solution forthcoming.”