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Parliamentarians Support Call For Battery Cage Ban


14 March 2002

Parliamentarians Support Call For Battery Cage Ban

MPs from across the political spectrum have signalled support for a ban on battery egg production.

ACT New Zealand's Stephen Franks, the Alliance's Phillida Bunkle, United Future New Zealand Leader, the Hon. Peter Dunne and Green Party MPs Sue Kedgley and Co-Leader Rod Donald were amongst the approximately 100 people who gathered at Wellington's Turnbull House today for the launch of the Royal New Zealand SPCA's campaign against battery hen farming.

"We were delighted by this display of cross-party support. I'm sure that all the MPs attending the launch were conscious of the public's growing distaste for cruel farming practices," says the SPCA's National Campaign Coordinator, Hans Kriek.

"This distaste was most recently exemplified late last year, when 64,000 people sent submissions to government in support of our campaign against sow stalls. We're expecting a substantially stronger public response to our battery cage campaign, as many New Zealanders are already well-informed on this issue and share our disgust at the way hens are treated," he says.

The SPCA is calling for a total ban on battery cage egg production to take effect as soon as possible and not later than 2010. The organization is seeking to influence a committee appointed by the Minister of Agriculture which is due to review the Welfare Code for Layer Hens later this year. Under the 1999 Animal Welfare Act, government is required to take public opinion into account when setting or revising animal welfare codes.

"We urge everyone who wants to see battery cages banned to either fill-in one of the postcard size submission forms available from SPCA branches and from 'The Body Shop' or to compose their own submissions and send them to Agriculture Minister, the Hon.Jim Sutton, explaining exactly why they want a ban," says Hans Kriek.

"The SPCA will be pushing this message home over the coming months, with events and meetings nationwide. We will also, for the first time ever in one of our animal welfare campaigns, be using television advertising to get our view across," he adds.

Today's campaign's launch featured a human-scale battery cage, which allowed MPs and members of the public to experience for a few minutes the sense of confinement inflicted on egg-laying hens for virtually their entire lives. Also present were a number of battery hens, some still confined in their cage.

"The birds are currently in a terrible state. However, after the launch, we released them into a humane, free-range environment and we're confident they will gradually recover from their ordeal.

"People at the launch were literally horrified by the condition of the birds. Understanding in theory about the plight of battery hens is one thing. Seeing the reality for yourself is another matter entirely," says Hans Kriek.

The gathering also heard Wellington entertainer, Pinkie Agnew, read out a short poem by the celebrated British comic and animal rights campaigner Spike Milligan, who died recently.

The poem, "Rage in Heaven", is an adaptation of an earlier work by William Blake. It consists of the following lines:

If a robin redbreast in a cage
Puts all heaven in a rage,
How feels heaven when
Dies the billionth battery hen?

For further information, please contact:
Hans Kriek
National Campaign Coordinator
Royal New Zealand SPCA
04 389 8044
025 679 0769

Peter Blomkamp
Chief Executive Officer
Royal New Zealand SPCA
09 827 6094
021 179 0072

Released by Ian Morrison, Matter of Fact Communications
Tel: 09 575 3223, Fax: 09 575 3220, Email: matfact@ww.co.nz

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