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Greens charge Sutton with conflict of interest

1 November, 2004

Greens charge Sutton with conflict of interest

Green MP Sue Kedgley is calling on the Prime Minister to shuffle Jim Sutton out of his portfolio as Minister of Animal Welfare when she re-jigs ministerial portfolios before the end of the year.

"It is an absurd and blatant conflict of interest for the Minister of Animal Welfare, Jim Sutton, to be the same person as the Minister of Trade, and Agriculture and Forestry," said Ms Kedgley, the Green Party's Animal Welfare spokesperson.

"The role of the Minister for Agriculture is to protect the interests of farmers, and their right to use animals in cruel ways such as keeping hens in cages. The role of the Animal Welfare Minister on the other hand is to protect the interests of animals from cruel treatment - often by farmers,

"You cant do both roles successfully.

"Helen Clark must ensure that the person responsible for protecting the welfare of hens is not the same person responsible for promoting the interests of egg farmers," she said.

Ms Kedgley said Mr Sutton's poor performance as Minister of Animal Welfare was clearly a reflection of the fact that he was always giving priority to the interests of farmers ahead of the interests of animals.

"No Minister of Animal Welfare in their right mind would approve a code of animal welfare which will keep millions of battery hens in cages," she said.

"If he approves the code he is approving and institutionalising animal cruelty, and cannot claim to be a Minister looking after the welfare of animals.

"Clearly we need to separate the animal welfare portfolio from those of trade and agriculture because it's such a blatant conflict of interest."

Ms Kedgley made the call as she prepared to join a nationwide grass-roots campaign to phase out the use of battery hen cages within five years.

A feature of the Green party's battery hen campaign is the use of postcards and e-cards - email postcards -calling on the Prime Minister to phase out the battery hen cage over the next five years.

ENDS

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