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Calls for farming industry to protect whistle-blowers following death-threats

Calls for farming industry to protect whistle-blowers following death-threats

August 15th, 2018

Animal advocacy group SAFE is calling for farming groups to develop whistle-blower programmes, after revelations workers are receiving death threats for reporting abuse.

The comment was made by SAFE CEO, Debra Ashton, in a speech to industry figures and the Associate Minister of Agriculture, Hon Meka Whaitiri, at an MPI animal welfare forum in Wellington today.

SAFE has received 15 complaints from whistle-blowers in the past two months.  A third of those had already complained to the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), but approached SAFE because their complaints were not acted on.

Debra Ashton says whistle-blowers are vital to preventing animal abuse on farms, but they need to be supported when they come forward.

Whistle blowers have received death threats from farmers as a result of contacting MPI,” she says.

“Whistle-blowers are heroes. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t know half of what’s going on.  However, what we’re hearing from people is they run the risk of losing their jobs, or could face threats from their employers, if they go to MPI.”

SAFE has approached Fonterra and Dairy NZ suggesting they set up systems for whistle-blowers to come to them directly, and to offer them support when they do.

However, both groups failed to respond.

Along with industry whistle-blower programmes, SAFE is also calling for the government to establish an independent agency for animal welfare, with regulatory and enforcement powers.

“Not only do we need industry to come onboard with whistle-blower programmes, but they need to support our call for a new agency for animals.”

“If the farming community wants New Zealand to be world leaders in animal welfare, they must provide effective ways for people to report abuse, and also support SAFE’s call for a well-resourced independent body for animals.”

 

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