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National Animal Identification and Tracing Bill

National Animal Identification and Tracing Bill

Rahui Katene, MP for Te Tai Tonga
Tuesday 6 September 2011, 5.30pm

The Maori Party has had mixed views about this bill, and the initiative to establish a national identification and tracing system.

We are not at all inclined to support legislation, just for the sake of legislation to bring about new compliance requirements.

And I have to say, one wonders where the line is drawn when it comes to the micro-chipping of cattle and sheep.

So it was with some interest that we looked at the advice from the Privacy Commissioner to the Primary Production Committee.

At first we were under some confusion as to whether it was the privacy of sheep, beef and deer that was being talked about when the Privacy Commission emphasized the need to “properly balance privacy impacts against the public interest in identifying and tracing animals”.

But in reading further, it seems that the concerns posed by the Commissioner were around search and detention powers – and whether or not a warrant should be issued. We certainly have to agree with the Commission that this power should only be exercised under warrant.

And we also concur with the advice that the reporting requirements should be amended to make it less onerous. In essence that issue – around unnecessary and disproportionate compliance – is the one that our caucus found most objectionable about this Bill.

Quoting from the Privacy Commissioner again, the submission noted that annual information would be required from the National Animal Identification and Tracing Agency. To quote directly:

“This provision imposes a high level of compliance costs on my Office and the NAIT organisation which I do not think is necessary”.

So we will be interested in the response of the Minister about this concern, as it is one which has raised issues for our caucus.

All going according to plan, the NAIT system will allow the rapid and accurate tracing of animals from birth to death or live export; it will provide information on the location and movement history of animals; and it should do much to improve biosecurity management.

We expect also that the bill will help to manage risks to human health associated with animals. It will help to improve animal productivity, provide market assurances, and support compliance with trading requirements.

These are all worthwhile goals.

And I want to refer to another submission which helped us to form our position at this second reading and that was from the Federation of Maori Authorities.

FOMA, of course, represents members comprising ahuwhenua land trusts, Maori incorporations, runanga and Maori trust boards, from throughout eleven different rohe across the nation.

Collectively there are some 150 members, administering over 800,000 hectares of land, on behalf of an estimated 100,000 Maori beneficial owners.

So when FOMA speaks, they speak with considerable authority – and accordingly we listen.

FOMA’s advice was that the NAIT system will add value to our exported agricultural products in that is will allow our produce to be entered into high value markets which require identification and tracing of agricultural products.

This is a very important issue in terms of fostering and supporting Maori economic development while at the same time bolstering the reputation of New Zealand products in international markets.

To put it simply, FOMA thought that having the ability to track potentially economically damaging diseases such as Foot and Mouth Disease or Mad Cow Disease would be of great value to the Maori economy.

It was their opinion that this legislation provides us with an opportunity to be proactive as opposed to reactive to an event of disease outbreak.

They also thought that although there will be significant costs for relevant industries to come into line with the NAIT system that these costs are small in comparison with the huge costs to our economy and international reputation should we have the misfortune to suffer a large scale disease outbreak.

Mr Speaker, I do not want to take up more time before the House, but I do think this will be hlepful for the environment as well for if we can track and trace animals, we may be able to track cattle to keep them out of the close proximity to streams and rivers which is damaging to the close environment.

I do want to say that the Maori Party supports agricultural trade and employment of workers; it also supports an effective and accountable government entity to carry out the purpose of the Bill; and we are persuaded by the logic and the experience of a key Maori business to provide support for the Bill.

ENDS

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