Singapore sizzles over where Australians put their sausages

  • The controversy stems from Australian hardware chain Bunnings’ new policy of putting onions under the meat in its iconic sausage sandwiches
  • Critics have lambasted the move as ‘un-Australian’ but the company has stuck to its guns – citing health and safety concerns
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 November, 2018, 6:29pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 November, 2018, 10:31am

It’s the debate that has been sizzling Down Under for days, but at the Asean summit in Singapore new Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison refused to take sides on the hot topic of whether onions should be served on top or under a sausage.

Australian hardware chain Bunnings served up a banger of a controversy this week when it emerged that it had changed the way its iconic sausage and bread delicacy is served – telling staff to put onions under the meat, citing health and safety concerns.

The chain – which often runs barbecue fundraisers known as “sausage sizzles” at its stores – said there were concerns people might be injured by stray onions if the slippery vegetables ended up on the floor.

Cue a raging debate in Australia on whether the directive was a sensible response to a potential risk, or the latest example of corporate health and safety overkill.

On Wednesday, on the sidelines of the regional diplomatic summit, Morrison was fielding a string of journalists’ questions ranging from his hopes to move Australia’s Israel embassy to Jerusalem to the trade war between the United States in China.

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Then came a curve ball. Was Bunnings being “un-Australian” in dictating where onions should go?

“Whether the onions are on top or underneath, I’ll always be buying sausages on bread,” said Morrison, diplomatically. “Frankly I’m not going to give them any recipe hints.”

(It’s) the most pressing international or trans-Tasman news of the day
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

His New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern, however, was a little more forthcoming with her views.

During a bilateral meeting with Morrison later in the day, she jokingly referred to the controversy as “the most pressing international or trans-Tasman news of the day”, according to Kiwi news website Newshub, adding “I think we should make a joint commitment that on our watches, the Bunnings sausage sizzle shall continue.”

“I agree, I agree,” said Morrison. “Onions on top, or underneath, however you like.”

“Just onions, they need to be available,” said Ardern. “So that’s resolved!”

The pair went on to briefly discuss citizenship, deportations, military deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq, and their shared commitment to the Pacific during the half-hour meet.

But back to the sausages.

The burning question of where the onions should go has divided opinion in Australia.

“A vital staple in the Australian diet is a snag (sausage) on some fresh white bread, with a sprinkling of burnt, caramelised onion on top with a dollop of sauce,” radio DJ Ryan “Fitzy” Fitzgerald, wrote in an open letter to Bunnings that went viral.

“So why, why would you entertain the idea of bowing down to bureaucrats and safety officers to change the order of a recipe that doesn’t need to be fixed?”

But others testified that they have indeed experienced dangerous encounters with onions piled on top of sausages.

A Queensland farmer, who only gave his first name Trevor, phoned ABC Sunshine Coast to say he had reached a non-disclosure settlement with Bunnings three years ago after slipping on some onions and injuring his back.

“It is serious stuff, this onion thing,” he said.

Additional reporting by NZME