SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — The decision by New Zealand’s agriculture minister to ban kosher slaughter was made to preserve the island nation’s profitable meat trade with Muslim countries and his own investments, a newspaper alleged.
The New Zealand Herald reported Sunday that David Carter was advised that trade with Muslim countries could be adversely affected if kosher slaughtering was allowed while the government required that halal meat be stunned prior to being slaughtered.
Muslim counties may become angry if they believed New Zealand was offering preferential treatment to Jews, the report claimed Carter was advised.
Carter owns shares in Alliance Group Ltd., which exports meat to Muslim countries, and in Silver Ferns Farms Ltd., according to the Register of Pecuniary Interests of Members of Parliament.
But in a statement published by the Herald, Carter denied the allegations.
"Claims that business interests determined my decision on the Commercial Slaughter Code are totally baseless," he said. "Animal welfare was the primary consideration in making this decision."
Carter banned shechitah on May 27, effective immediately. On Nov. 26, agreement was reached to allow the kosher slaughter of poultry, just three days before the small Jewish community was due to contest the decision in the High Court in Wellington. Lamb is still under negotiation, while kosher beef will continue to be imported from Australia.
New Zealand Jewish Council President Stephen Goodman said he was “very relieved” by the development.
“It is disappointing that it took legal action for the government to come to a negotiated solution,” he said. “The whole process has been extremely stressful to the New Zealand Jewish community as well as costing over $NZ300,000 that could, and should, have been applied to reinforcing the community rather than arguing with our government over our right to live here.”
Shechitah has been carried out in New Zealand since 1843. The island nation on the edge of the Diaspora is home to about 7,000 Jews.