The review of the Animal Welfare Act is an opportunity to improve animal welfare outcomes, that everyone should be involved in, the Green Party said today.
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has just released the animal welfare discussion paper which outlines changes to the 1999 Act as well as proposing an animal welfare strategy for New Zealand.
"The proposals have some good elements but there is still significant room for improvement," Green Party animal welfare spokesperson Mojo Mathers said.
"It’s time to put the wellbeing of animals at the centre of animal welfare.
"The Ministry says that the ‘exceptional circumstances’ clause has only been used rarely but try telling that to the millions of chickens and pigs that have been living in conditions that breach the purpose set out in the 1999 Act.
"Removing the ‘exceptional circumstances’ clause that has allowed big industries to breach the Act is a good change and if used properly I am looking forward to seeing it change the face of the chicken and pig industries in particular.
"Although I appreciate that the Ministry are making it explicit that they consider ‘practicality’ and ‘economic impacts’ when making decisions, I am concerned about how these additions to the criteria will play out when developing rules that are already heavily weighted towards the needs of the industries rather than animals wellbeing.
"Developing a national strategy demonstrates how important animal welfare is for the wellbeing of animals and for maintaining our reputation as ethical producers of food.
"This review gives New Zealand the opportunity to solidify its place as world leaders in agriculture and animal welfare.
"The Green Party is calling for the control of animal welfare to be placed outside of MPI with an independent body.
"There is an un-reconcilable tension between protecting the needs of animals and benefiting from their exploitation. An independent Commissioner for Animal Welfare would help remove this tension.
"I encourage all New Zealanders who care about the lives of the millions of animals that contribute so much to our primary production as well as providing us with companionship, food and entertainment, to make a submission on the review before the 28th of September," said Ms Mathers.
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