Despite being in the middle of an illegal asbestos dumping scandal and losing their CEO last night (Monday), Liverpool City councillors still found time at recent meetings to quarrel over the number of pork and halal sausages bought for a community barbecue and why the halal sausages were cooked first.
Liberal Councillor Peter Ristevski raised the burning issues in questions at an ordinary council meeting last month, grilling council staff on why the halal snags were barbecued first and asking for a breakdown of the type and volume of each sausage purchased.
The council’s shopping list for the free Kurrajong Road Community Barbecue in December last year was: 300 vegetarian patties, 650 halal beef sausage and 50 pork sausages and the food was cooked on three barbecues.
Mr Ristevski complained that too many halal sausages had been ordered and too few pork.
He told Government News that although the issue might appear trivial, he had been contacted by many of his constituents who felt that their Orthodox Christian religion had been sidelined in favour of Islam.
He said that Mayor Ned Mannoun, a fellow Liberal party councillor, had “disrespected other religions” and that he was attempting “a complete Islamisation of the city.”
“The mayor disrespected the entire Orthodox Christian community. He monopolised the barbecue. Heaps of people complained. Not everyone likes to eat halal sausages. They have a different taste.”
Mr Ristevski said he had been accused of being a racist just for asking questions about the food cooked at the barbecue.
When council staff addressed the councillor’s inquiries they replied that the standard order for council barbecue events had always been beef sausages and vegetable patties because the area had a high proportion of Arabic and Indian families and beef sausages were cheaper than pork.
“The fact that we have never previously had a request for pork sausage at a free BBQ indicating that pork eaters will eat beef (and therefore again, keeping our costs to the ratepayer lower),” said the response.
“To ensure that pork was available to anyone who requested it, they were held aside to be cooked on request. As the event was such a success all sausages and patties of all varieties were cooked and consumed.”
But Mr Ristevski said the Liverpool area had a higher proportion of Orthodox Christians than Muslims and halal sausages did not need to be cooked on each of the three barbecues.
Asked how many halal sausages were left over and how many pork sausages were left over council staff said: “all sausages were happily and gratefully consumed by members of the public.”
The sausage stoush has made the council a target of ridicule on Facebook. Comments on the Facebook page, ‘Boycott Halal in Australia? No way’ include: “Don’t let Cory Bernardi get a whiff of this. He’ll order another enquiry (sic).”
Another commented: “If he wanted them (sic) pork sausages by platefuls he should have done the shopping himself. Why are council money and work time wasted for this? Liverpool streets are shonky and they need to look at fixing potholes and broken curbs (sic) for what they are paid for.”
Making full use of three letter acronyms (TLA’s) one wag said: “Lol … OMG! It’s a bloody sausage! Halal or pork. No one should eat them!”
It is not the first time that Liverpool Council has made headlines over the volume of pork on ratepayers’ forks.
A Christian Orthodox interfaith lunch held at Liverpool Catholic Club in August last year managed to offend both the Christian Orthodox community and Hindus. The Christians were aggrieved because a traditional Macedonian pork dish was left off the menu and Hindus were upset because beef was left on.
The upshot was that pork went back on the menu, the beef went back in the fridge and chicken and vegetarian were last minute menu additions.
The lunch also caused controversy because it cost ratepayers $47,000 to feed almost 600 guests at the Christian Orthodox lunch, triple the food bill of the council’s If tar Interfaith dinner the month before.
Pork was added to the council’s standard order following a council resolution in August last year.