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Minister challenged to experience life in a cage

2 March 2005

Minister challenged to experience life in a cage

The Greens are challenging Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton to spend just one day in a cage in which he can hardly stand up straight and can not stretch his arms.

In a reply to a question in the Parliament by Green Animal Welfare Spokesperson Sue Kedgley yesterday as to whether the Government considered it cruel to keep millions of animals in cages where they cannot turn around, Mr Sutton said it was perfectly possible to have high standards of animal welfare in a caged bird system, and that he did not consider keeping hens in cages to be inherently cruel.

"I very much doubt his response would be the same if he were subject to that kind of treatment even for just one day," Ms Kedgley says.

"I am incredulous at his attitude to animal welfare. The Minister is saying that hens kept in cages, where they have less than the size of an A4 piece of paper to live on and cannot express most natural forms of behaviour, do not suffer."

"It is frightening that an Agriculture Minister can be so out of touch with ordinary New Zealanders on this issue that he cannot even acknowledge that keeping animals in cages is cruel."

Mr Sutton's view is contrary to the advice of his expert committee of animal welfare advisors, the National Animal Welfare Advisory Council, who acknowledge that keeping hens in cages does not fully provide for their welfare.

Ms Kedgley was astounded that he could also ignore the advice of Parliamentary watchdog, the Regulations Review Select Committee, which advised him the pig code was not in accord with the Animal Welfare Act.

Mr Sutton ducked and dived when asked to explain why the Government had approved codes which didn't meet the obligations of the Act.

When questioned about what exceptional circumstances allowed him to accept codes which breached the Act, he refused to answer.


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