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Government On Notice To Ban Battery Cages

28 June 2002

"Whatever the exact composition of our next government, it will be on notice to end battery hen farming," says New Zealand's largest animal welfare organization.

The Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals plans to deliver 60,000 signed submissions, calling for a ban on battery cages, to Agriculture Minister, the Hon.Jim Sutton, on the steps of Parliament on Wednesday 3rd July at 2.30pm.

Approximately 50,000 additional submissions have already been despatched by post to the minister's office.

"These submissions are further evidence that New Zealanders want swift and effective action to end this cruelly abusive farming practice," says the Royal New Zealand SPCA's National Campaign Coordinator, Hans Kriek.

"We're delighted but not hugely surprised by the number of submissions, as a public opinion survey carried out in April this year showed an overwhelming majority unequivocally opposed to battery cages," he says.

The Colmar Brunton survey found that 79% of those polled wanted battery cages banned as soon as possible and not later than 2010. An identical percentage was willing to pay extra for free range or barn eggs.

"There's really no doubt remaining about what New Zealanders want with respect to battery cages. Once the General Election is over, any government which does not move reasonably quickly to ban the cages will be treating the public with contempt," says Mr Kriek.

"We plan to pack our submissions into standard battery cages for delivery to the Minister, so he and any other MPs present will be able to see for themselves the cramped and miserable conditions in which the overwhelming majority of New Zealand's two million egg-laying hens are kept. And we will also bring four battery hens which will be symbolically released at the event," he adds.

Mr Kriek describes a typical battery hen as spending most of her life on a tiny, sloping patch of wire floor, covering less space than an A4 sheet of paper. There's insufficient space for her to walk or stretch her wings and she may well be suffering from severe feather loss and leg weaknesses.

"We really can't continue with this outrageous and totally unnecessary mistreatment of innocent creatures. It's worth noting that a number of countries have already either banned battery cages or are phasing them out. We're not aware of them suffering from egg shortages as a result

"The large number of submissions we'll be handing to the minister clearly suggest that New Zealanders want to be up front with the pace-setters and not dragging their feet over this and other important animal welfare issues. Hopefully, politicians will take note," he says.

EDITORS AND REPORTERS PLEASE NOTE

The Royal New Zealand SPCA will be delivering 60,000 signed submission, calling for a ban on battery cages, to Agriculture Minister, the Hon.Jim Sutton, on the steps of Parliament on Wednesday 3rd July at 2.30pm.


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