Government must prioritise animal welfareOctober 8th, 2018
SAFE is slamming the Government for its refusal to separate the agriculture and animal welfare portfolios, in a breach of its election commitments.
Responsibility for animal welfare was assigned to the Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor, after the role was stripped from Meka Whaitiri.
During the election campaign, Labour stated that it supported separate ministerial responsibility for the primary industries and animal welfare.
However, in a letter released over the weekend, the Prime Minister’s office indicated animal welfare would remain with Damien O’Connor, stating “Minister O’Connor is “aware of the importance of animal welfare.”
SAFE’s Head of Campaigns, Marianne Macdonald, says not separating animal welfare responsibility from the primary industries suggests the Government doesn’t take animal welfare seriously.
“Damien O’Connor cannot promote the agricultural industry and be responsible for protecting the animals involved. It’s a clear conflict of interest. It’s also extremely concerning to see the Government backtracking on animal welfare.”
“This Government wants to be seen as compassionate, so it must act accordingly by assigning a Minister for Animal Welfare. Animal abuse is already going unchecked in this country and a lack of oversight for it will cause more harm to animals.”
SAFE also fears that the animal welfare framework being developed by Meka Whaitiri will now be pushed to the side.
“While we are calling for the animal agriculture and welfare portfolios to be separated immediately, SAFE ultimately wants an independent agency for animals in Government, with enforcement and regulatory powers. With the current vacancy, now would be a great time to establish that.”