Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Committee seeks review of Animal Welfare Act 

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Concern that welfare codes don’t always further Act’s aims.
SAFE chief executive Debra Ashton believes the animal welfare framework in New Zealand is overdue for a shake-up.
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The government has been asked to hold a “prompt and substantive review” of the Animal Welfare Act 1999.

The request comes from a Regulations Review Committee, headed by National MP Judith Collins, and follows a report into how secondary legislation, such as codes of welfare, is handled under the Act.

The committee’s report, Briefing on Animal Welfare Secondary Legislation, stems from a hearing in September last year with the New Zealand Animal Law Association (NZALA) regarding its report, Farmed Animal Welfare Law in New Zealand: Investigating the Gap between the Animal Welfare Act 1999 and its Delegated Legislation.

That report concluded there is a gap between the standards of animal welfare envisioned by the Animal Welfare Act 1999 and the standards set in the codes of welfare and regulations made under the Act. 

The NZALA believes the secondary legislation failed to ensure that the physical, health and behavioural needs of animals are met, as required by section 10 of the Act.

Following that hearing, the Regulations Review Committee opted to prepare an overview of secondary legislation relating to animal welfare that “we and previous iterations of the Regulations Review Committee have considered”.

The committee found the volume of complaints regarding inconsistencies between secondary legislation and the Act highlighted the need for an investigation.

 As a result the committee has asked the government to conduct “a prompt and substantive review” of the process for developing secondary legislation under the Act, and look into whether all existing secondary legislation, particularly codes of welfare, are consistent with its objects and intentions.

SAFE chief executive Debra Ashton welcomed the review, saying the animal welfare framework in NZ is overdue for a shake-up.

“We need to wait and see what this review looks like, but this could be a game-changer for animals,” Ashton said.

“Take colony cages for example, which SAFE has been calling to be banned for years. They’re still in use, even though they breach the Animal Welfare Act. Clearly, the process right now for developing codes of welfare is deeply flawed.

“NZALA and SAFE had to go to court to challenge the use of farrowing crates, which should never have needed to happen. Small cages where animals can’t even turn around are not in line with the intentions of the Act, which requires that animals have the ability to express normal patterns of behaviour.”

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