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Animal Welfare Committee Accused Of Incompetence

10 October 2002


Government animal welfare committee accused of incompetence

National animal rights organisation SAFE today accuses the government- appointed National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) and the Minister of Agriculture, Hon Jim Sutton, of incompetence and of causing needless continuation of animal suffering. The recent announcement of a proposed bill to delay implementation of six deemed animal welfare codes for a further year has outraged the group.

"The government and the Minister of Agriculture, Hon Jim Sutton, has failed to fulfil a legal obligation to introduce six codes of welfare within the allocated three-year period intended to offer legal protection to pigs, broiler chickens and layer hens, as well as animals in rodeos, circuses and zoos. This delay will affect over 80 million animals," says SAFE Director Anthony Terry.

"The Minister of Agriculture and his advisory committee has had three years to formulate and implement these codes of welfare. SAFE and many other interested parties have made comprehensive submissions against the four draft codes released for public consultation since October 2001. Two codes governing animals in circuses and zoos have yet to be released. If Mr Sutton doesn't feel the fate of 80 million animals is important enough to allocate sufficient resources in order to implement improved animal welfare legislation, the position should be given to someone genuinely committed to improving animal welfare in New Zealand."

In a letter signed by Hon Jim Sutton on 22 August 2000 to a SAFE member Mr Sutton states "In order to give affected industries time to re-evaluate the feasibility and practicalities of any changes to current practices, all deemed codes will continue in force until 1 January 2003. Despite this timeframe, it is the NAWAC's intention that they will be reviewed and replaced earlier than this date."

"NAWAC has had three codes of welfare governing broiler chickens, pigs and rodeo animals on their desk for nearly an entire year. It is inconceivable to expect the public can have confidence in a government-appointed animal welfare committee when none of the codes have yet been completed," says Mr Terry.

SAFE is calling for an inquiry as to why both the Minister of Agriculture and NAWAC have failed to fulfil their responsibilities in the time allocated.

For more information contact: Anthony Terry, SAFE Director, 03 379 9711 or 021 611 979, safe@chch.planet.co.nz, or visit: www.safe.org.nz

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