Animal Welfare bill passes first reading

A bill to strengthen protection of animals passed its first reading unanimously in Parliament today.

“The Animal Welfare Amendment Bill will improve the enforceability, clarity, and transparency of the Animal Welfare Act 1999,” Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said after the vote.

He said:

“This will strengthen an already well performing animal welfare system.

“It has been 14 years since the Animal Welfare Act was passed, and a review of this Act was long overdue.

“New Zealanders are passionate about animal welfare and we care deeply about how animals are treated. Sixty eight per cent of New Zealand households have at least one pet, and around half of our export earnings are animal products.

“We pride ourselves on our assurance to the world that we have high standards of animal welfare, and even isolated cases of poor animal welfare can have a negative impact on our reputation as a responsible agricultural producer.”

The Animal Welfare Amendment Bill will:

* Provide for clear and enforceable standards of animal welfare, and will broaden the range of enforcement tools;

* Enable the Government to establish new mandatory standards in regulations for exporting live animals;

* Remove uncertainty around the ill-treatment of wild animals. This will target acts of wilful or reckless ill-treatment to animals, but will not affect ordinary hunting, fishing, and pest management;

*Improve the transparency of research involving animals.

The Government has also agreed to support the Select Committee considering a Supplementary Order Paper seeking to ban testing of psychoactive substances on animals. This will allow the Primary Production Select Committee to look at this issue in depth and for the public to have their say before any final decision is made.

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