Minister dodges questions as farm exposé reaches Parliament

This week in the house, Green Party MP Gareth Hughes asked the Associate Minister of Agriculture Hon Meka Whaitiri what the Ministry is doing to help protect animals. This comes after an exposé on a Northland farm revealed the failure of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) when it comes to animal welfare.

Gareth quizzed the Minister on CCTV cameras, protection for whistleblowers, and increases in repeat and random inspections. The response was a perfect example of a politician’s answer. The Minister did not respond a clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to any of the solutions Gareth was offering in the house.

The Minister did use her speaking time in the house to encourage those who see cruelty to speak up and contact MPI. She also stressed a need for industry leadership on the issue.

However, it is concerning that the Minister wants MPI and industry to take the lead in uncovering animal cruelty, rather than an independent body who have animal welfare at heart. Even with the added capacity, the Minister is promising, MPI will continue to be responsible for promoting farming, which is in direct conflict with its animal welfare responsibilities. It’s a case of the fox guarding the henhouse.

This is why SAFE is calling for MPI to be stripped of its animal welfare portfolio.

It’s positive to see an animal welfare issue discussed in Parliament and we want to see more of this. However, it’s time for the Minister to make concrete moves to change the broken system that allows animals to continue to suffer.

We are calling for a stand-alone regulatory and enforcement agency for the millions of farmed animals: a Commission for Animal Welfare with the authority to effectively monitor and enforce our Animal Welfare Act.


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