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Whaitiri demotion leaves worrying gap in animal welfare responsibility

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Animal rights group SAFE is pressing the Government to reassign responsibility for animal welfare, after the role was stripped from outgoing Associate Agriculture Minister Meka Whaitiri.

Ms Whaitiri’s role previously encompassed animal welfare, but the removal of her portfolios means the responsibility now falls to Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

SAFE’s Head of Campaigns, Marianne Macdonald, says animal welfare must be an urgent priority for the Government and cannot be lumped in with farming advocacy.

"Damien O’Connor is responsible for promoting and advocating for the agricultural industry. He cannot also be responsible for protecting the animals involved - it’s a clear conflict of interest."

SAFE is also concerned that animal welfare projects under development will be forgotten in the turnover - including a long-awaited review on the legislation surrounding rodeo, and a cabinet paper calling for an independent voice for animals.

"Animal welfare cannot be an afterthought. Just yesterday, we saw slaughterhouse owner Alan Cleaver sentenced for the horrific abuse of animals in his care, outraging New Zealanders. This shows we cannot be complacent."

"Monitoring and enforcement of animal welfare is already insufficient, and now we risk it falling even farther down the priority list."

"SAFE is writing to the Prime Minister to ask she urgently reappoint Ministerial responsibility for animal welfare. Ultimately, however, SAFE is calling on the Government to create an independent agency for animals in Government, with the resources and power to enforce the law."

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