The Party for the Animals
What would a party that really had the interests of the animals at heart, look like? It might look a bit like the Party for the Animals, with policies that actually benefit the animals, rather than policies that ‘harm them less'.
Animal welfare laws at present don't protect animals' most basic needs, such as freedom of movement or freedom from pain. The present laws tend to regulate the use of animals, and could be better named ‘farmer welfare laws'.
If there was a party that recognised the needs of animals to live free from suffering, it would be committed to phasing out the inhumane factory farming practices that rule the lives of the majority of farmed animals. It would ensure the Animal Welfare Act is strong enough in practice, and not just in principle, to protect animals from suffering.
SAFE has surveyed the animal welfare policies of the real political parties running in the 2011 general election and invites you to see for yourselves the real policies, or lack of policies. While there are many important issues in our society, please keep in mind the parties and candidates that will do the most for animals on 26 November!
Animals and the New Zealand election
The difference between the attitudes to animals of both the National and Labour parties, and the smaller parties, is extreme. While some individual MPs are very supportive of specific issues, such as the banning of cages for layer hens, this is not always mirrored in the policy of the party they belong to.
Among many significant issues in the political landscape, animal welfare is of high importance to New Zealand and to New Zealanders. In a MAF survey released this year, it ranked as the sixth most important socio-political issue, higher than unemployment and climate change.
Animal welfare is a cross-party issue and SAFE does not advocate for any one party. SAFE simply urges voters to ask their candidates what they are prepared to do for the animals, and to make their choices on election day with the animals in mind.
National and Labour
Despite saying animal welfare is a high priority, National and Labour neglected to fill out SAFE's election policy survey on specific issues facing animals, instead issuing general statements. Neither party have an actual animal welfare policy or spokesperson.
The phase out of sow stalls has been started under National's watch, which SAFE acknowledges. When taking on the issue, David Carter has shown that he is capable of creating positive change.
However his government is now leading a review of the Layer Hen code which will most likely bring in a new kind of cage, the colony cage, that will sentence hens to confined and barren living conditions for several more decades.
The Labour party policy statement, while positive, is open and general. Without specific policy initiatives it becomes of lilttle value. During its nine years in government, the Labour party blocked any significant welfare improvements, despite having the opportunity and significant public support for change.
The Green Party
The Green Party has a comprehensive animal welfare policy, and at the time of writing are the only party to so far make a specific commitment against colony cages for layer hens. SAFE is asking each party to follow the Green Party lead and to pledge against colony cages.
SAFE recognises the extensive policy and commitment of the Green Party. MP Sue Kedgley, who retires from parliament this year, has been a champion of animal issues such as the banning of sow crates and battery cages. At first ridiculed within parliament for raising these issues, her determination now sees animal welfare recognised by politicians as a high priority for the New Zealand public.
United Future, Maori and Mana
United Future, the Maori Party and Mana are smaller parties that have made statements in support of phasing out factory farming practices such as battery cages.