In an historic move, fifteen of New Zealand’s leading animal advocacy groups have united to urgently call on the new Government to establish an independent Commissioner for Animals.
The Alliance partner advocacy groups work across the spectrum of animal welfare issues – from animals used on farms, in entertainment, in the wild, and in laboratories, to those who reside in our own backyards. Alliance members include the New Zealand Animal Law Association, SAFE, NZAVS, HUHA, World Animal Protection, Greenpeace Aotearoa, Animals Aotearoa, BirdCare Aotearoa, Animal Evac NZ, Goat Welfare NZ, the Community Cat Coalition, Chained Dog Awareness, Wellington Rabbit Rescue, Wellington Bird Rehabilitation Trust and the Australian Alliance for Animals.
Spokesperson for the Alliance, Debra Ashton, says an independent voice for animals is urgently needed to ensure their voices are heard at the highest level.
“Currently, animal welfare regulation is heavily influenced by the industries profiting from New Zealand’s animals, rather than the consideration of their welfare needs and legal rights,” says Ashton.
“Our leaders trade on the ‘world-leading’ Animal Welfare Act, to sell New Zealand products at a premium. However, without proper oversight, the Act isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.”
“A voice for animals at the political table has never been more urgent, with many animal rescue, shelter and rehabilitation organisations struggling under high rates of abandonment, rising operational costs and little to no government support.”
Together, the Alliance is calling on incoming Prime Minister Christopher Luxon, along with his coalition partners, to give animals an independent voice and uphold their legal rights.
The call for a Commissioner for Animals has widespread support, with multiple animal law experts backing the call, as well as over 50 animal welfare organisations highlighting the need for a Commissioner for Animals in a 2018 hui.
The issue also remains critical to voters, with a poll revealing 89% of New Zealanders find animal welfare important.
“New Zealanders – and those across the world who look to us as leaders in this space – would be appalled to learn that across the country, animals are currently subjected to systematic abuse on farms, in cages, on racetracks, in labs and backyards, blatantly breaching their legal rights under the Animal Welfare Act,” says Ashton.
“We can’t market our Animal Welfare Act as ‘world-leading’ when it is not enforced in practice.”
“If we want to trade on a reputation of world-leading animal welfare, we need to stand behind it. It is time the concerns of animals are taken seriously at the political table.”
The Alliance has launched a petition which has already gained over 20,000 signatures. The site which houses the petition can be found here: www.commissionerforanimals.nz