New Zealand needs new Animal Welfare Legislation

30 May 1997

New animal welfare legislation needs to be introduced to replace the outdated Animals Protection Act and keep New Zealand in the forefront of international animal welfare issues, says Des Fielden, chairman of the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (AWAC), which released its annual report today.

Professor Fielden said that existing legislation no longer adequately represented community expectations, existing farm practices, and recent research findings. He said animal welfare had an impact on public perception and a favourable international animal welfare image should continue to be a focus for New Zealand, with research being used to support acceptable animal management practices, and phase out those practices which are no longer acceptable.

The proposed new legislation will see AWAC's animal welfare codes, of which there are 19, gain enhanced legal status. Currently, a breach of a code provision, while not an offence, can be used as evidence to establish the guilt of someone accused of causing an animal suffering under the 1960 Act.

AWAC was established by the Minister of Agriculture eight years ago, with the view to facilitate the development of animal welfare policy and practice in New Zealand and provide a credible, balanced and independent forum for the discussion of animal welfare issues. AWAC consists of members appointed by the Minister, representing a range of interests including the RNZSPCA, MAF, New Zealand Veterinary Association, National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee, Federated Farmers, animal welfare law, animal behaviour, animal welfare science, conservation, and the consumer.

Last year AWAC published codes of recommendation and minimum standards for the welfare of layer hens and the emergency slaughter of animals, as well as guidelines for the welfare of animals from which blood is harvested, and the sheep welfare code was revised. The sheep code proved particularly popular with 20,000 copies distributed to date.

The method by which AWAC produces its code is to be mirrored by the newly formed Trans-Tasman Animal Welfare Committee. The committee was impressed by the support AWAC codes received from New Zealand's producer industries.

"Support for a code comes through extensive consultation and getting the industry in question involved at the writing and drafting stage. Being part of the process, industries readily accept responsibility for the final product," says Professor Fielden.

Copies of AWAC's annual report and welfare codes are now available.

For further information contact:
Kate Horrey, Secretary of AWAC,
PO Box 2526, Wellington, or ring:
(04)4744296 or fax: (04)4744133.



Last Updated: 08 September 2010

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