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Government fails to take animal welfare seriously in cabinet reshuffle

Government fails to take animal welfare seriously in cabinet reshuffle

June 27th, 2019

Animal rights organisation SAFE says the Government has failed to take its animal welfare responsibilities seriously during the Cabinet reshuffle, which has left the position of Minister responsible for animal welfare vacant.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has today revealed her Government’s reshuffled Cabinet, leaving a vacant position in animal welfare. Before the last election, Labour, the Greens and New Zealand First all promised to appoint a Minister responsible for animal welfare; a position which has since been left vacant after Meka Whaitiri left her position.

SAFE Head of Campaigns Marianne Macdonald says the Government is backing down on key election promises.

“Animal welfare is a serious issue that many Kiwis care deeply about. It appears the country’s highest officials don’t share those concerns,” says Ms Macdoanld.

“The Labour Party promised to ban the cruelest parts of rodeo and end the use of colony cages for hens and farrowing crates for mother pigs, as well as appoint a Minister responsible for animal welfare. This is the latest in a string of promises for animals that they’ve failed to uphold.”

Meka Whaitiri introduced a Framework for Action on Animal Welfare in June last year, that included creating an independent voice for animals. She was removed as Minister in August, following allegations she was bullying her staffers. Damien O’Connor has since taken responsibility for animal welfare in his position as Minister of Agriculture and has taken no action on Ms Whaitiri’s Framework.

“Our animal welfare laws and regulations are part of a broken system. Enforcement of our animal welfare laws currently resides with the Ministry for Primary Industries. It has a clear conflict of interest, being the department also responsible for promoting our primary industries. As a farmer and the Minister responsible for MPI, Mr O’Connor shares the same conflict of interest,” says Ms Macdonald.

“Positive change for animals and their welfare is urgently needed in New Zealand. As a first step, the Government must appoint a new Minister responsible for animal welfare.”

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