Animal campaigners to demand action from GovernmentDecember 18th, 2015
Animal campaigners led by SAFE are furious that there is still no progress from the government and no sign that anything will change, following the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) being alerted to appalling treatment of dairy calves. The abuse was brought to light in an exposé that rocked the country nearly three weeks ago. It has been over three months since it was reported to MPI. SAFE is demonstrating outside MPI this afternoon, December 18, to call for a new animal welfare body.
“This happens often when abuse is exposed. The government says the cruelty is terrible and promises change, but the moment we are looking the other way it is business as usual,” says SAFE campaigns officer Shanti Ahluwalia. “At the moment MPI is tasked with promoting agriculture but also enforcing animal welfare law. They have let animals down time and time again. They simply cannot be relied on as they have a clear conflict of interest.”
In 2014, an exposé of the pig industry revealed conditions that shocked the nation. No prosecutions took place despite public outrage at footage of workers hammering a pig to death and rough handling of piglets.
SAFE is calling for the government to separate animal welfare from the Ministry for Primary Industries and allocate sufficient funding for an independent animal welfare department.
“Currently, if you sit down with a government representative for animal welfare, chances are you are talking to a farmer. From Minister Nathan Guy down through the ranks, farmers control animal welfare. What chance do the animals have when farmers are left to police farmers?” asks Mr Ahluwalia.
Less than $7 million of the government’s budget is allocated to animal welfare enforcement, while animals bring in more than $20 billion to the economy. That means about 0.03% of the money from animals goes back to enforcement.
When questioned on 1 December about the percentage of complaints made to the Ministry for Primary Industries about animal cruelty that results in prosecutions, Minister Nathan Guy admitted that they prosecuted just 26 individuals in 2014, or “around 5 percent of the 698 animal welfare complaints received.”
“The government claims it cares about animal welfare, but they only spend $7 million a year to look after millions of animals. That is less than a third of the flag referendum,” says Mr Ahluwalia. “It is essential that the government takes urgent action to protect New Zealand animals now.”
Labour and the Greens already have separate portfolios for animal welfare and agriculture. SAFE is calling on the government to follow suit and create an independent voice for animals with sufficient funding to make a difference.