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Animal Welfare Policy

Mojo Mathers MP
Mojo Mathers MP
mojo [dot] mathers [at] parliament [dot] govt [dot] nz (Email)

Go to the Animal Welfare Policy Summary

Download Animal Welfare Policy as PDF

Spokesperson: Mojo Mathers MP

Updated Sept-2014


Animals are part of the natural world, which is central to the Green perspective. Furthermore there are strong arguments for extending our principle of non-violence beyond humans to encompass animals.


For the purposes of this policy, animals are defined as being all animals at the vertebrate level (but including octopus, squid, crayfish, lobsters and crabs).


The Green Party envisions a world in which:

  1. Animals are recognised as having intrinsic worth.
  2. Domestic animals have a high quality of life.
  3. People act compassionately in all their interactions with all animals.

Key Principles

  1. Humans ensure that all animals in their care are free from hunger and thirst, disease, discomfort and distress and have the opportunity to express a range of natural behaviours.
  2. It is recognised that dietary choices have consequences for animal welfare.
  3. While protection of indigenous biodiversity is paramount, the development and use of the most humane methods of controlling exotic pests is encouraged.
  4. Consumers are able to make informed purchasing decisions based on a desire to avoid directly or indirectly causing suffering to animals.
  5. Non-violence and empathy towards all animals is promoted, from early childhood onwards.
  6. Experiments and research on animals are limited to situations where:
    1. It is endeavoured that no animal suffers as a result of the study, and
    2. The study can show the potential for overwhelming benefit to animals or humans. Such research should recognise the principles of reduction, refinement and replacement, with the eventual aim of eliminating suffering, distress or pain to animals involved in animal experiments.
  7. Animals must not experience suffering for economic or entertainment reasons.
  8. Animals must not be cloned except to save a species from extinction.
  9. Animals must not be used in GE experiments or fed GE food.

Specific Policy Points

1. Supporting animal friendly attitudes in humans

Informed consumer choice Consumers have a right to know if animal products are present and when, where and how all animal products are produced so that they can make informed decisions about whether to consume animal products and the methods of production they will support through their consumption. The Green Party will promote legislation that will:

  1. Require the presence of animal products to be clearly indicated on labels.
  2. Require all producers to label their animal products according to strict criteria concerning the methods by which the animals were raised (e.g. caged vs barn-raised vs free-range hens; use of antibiotics or growth hormones).
  3. Require all products to carry labels indicating whether they have been tested on animals or contain ingredients which have been tested on animals.

Promotion of non-violence

  1. The Green Party will encourage and support programs that promote respect and empathy towards humans and animals, at all levels of education.

'Animal friendly' diets

  1. The Green Party will promote 'animal friendly' dietary choices that take animal welfare issues into consideration. For example, we will promote free-range eggs as more 'animal friendly' than eggs from battery farmed hens.

2 Control of pest species

The Green Party will:

  1. Encourage the development and use of control methods for animal pests, which involve the minimum of suffering.
  2. Encourage humane alternatives to 1080 and other slow acting poisons.
  3. Investigate non-lethal methods of pest control.

3 Ensuring good quality care for domestic animals

Independent Commissioner of Animal Welfare At present animal welfare issues are addressed within the Ministry of Primary Industries. This gives rise to the situation where producer interests can be given priority over animal welfare issues. To ensure that government animal welfare policy is robust, comprehensive and not unduly influenced by producers, the Green Party will:

  1. Establish a Commissioner of Animal Welfare, which will be independent of political parties and the Ministry of Primary Industries, and which will report to parliament. The Commissioner, who will be appointed by the Governor General, will appoint members of the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee, and the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee.
  2. Ensure that the new Commissioner of Animal Welfare has the power to develop, implement and monitor codes of animal welfare which prevent animals in Aotearoa/New Zealand from suffering due to the direct or indirect actions of humans. The commissioner will also have the power to investigate and rule on complaints regarding animal welfare.

Animals in Agriculture

Even though sow crates are to be phased out by 2016, there are a number of practices are widely used in farming which cause animals to suffer and restrict their ability to express normal patterns of behaviour. The new Commissioner of Animal Welfare will develop a comprehensive strategy for the treatment of all animals used in agriculture, which aims to protect them from abuse and ensure they do not suffer. The new Commissioner of Animal Welfare will also strengthen existing legal codes of welfare for all food animals.

  1. The Green Party will work to eliminate, over time, methods that cause animals to suffer or prevent them from expressing normal patterns of behaviour. In particular we will move to:
    1. Reduce confinement of sows in farrowing crates to a maximum of 72 hours
    2. Phase out battery hen cages within 5 years.
    3. Phase out, within 5 years, cruel techniques including debeaking of hens and mulesing of sheep (surgical removal of skin from the upper posterior surfaces of the hind legs and underside of the tail), in association with the development of alternative, humane practices.
    4. Immediately ban docking of dogs' tails for anything other than therapeutic treatment of injury or disease.
    5. Prohibit new, and phase out existing, factory farming of animals, including highly intensive outdoor facilities such as feedlots and indoor facilities such as battery hen farms.
    6. Ensure that all agricultural animals are provided with shade, shelter and comfortable resting areas.
    7. Support the breeding of genetic lines with inherent disease resistance and discourage the use of breeds, and the development of transgenic animals for agricultural research or other purposes, with inherent deformities or susceptibilities.

In addition, the Green Party will seek alterations to the Animal Welfare Act 1999 in order to strengthen animal welfare codes. At present Sections 73 (2) (d), 73 (3) and 73 (4) (a) and (c) of the Animal Welfare Act allow NAWAC to set minimum standards which do not meet any of the obligations of the Act which protect animal welfare. (These sections were intended to be applied only in exceptional circumstances, but at present have a major influence over the standards in the Codes so that even basic needs are not legally required to be met.) The Green Party will seek to:

  1. Repeal Sections 73 (2)(d), 73 (3) and 73 (4) (a) and (c) of the Animal Welfare Act 1999.
  2. Prohibit the importation of farmed furs unless it can be verified that the source animals were farmed under humane conditions.

Transport of Animals (including companion animals) Many animals suffer when they are transported. We want to ensure that any transportation stress is minimal. The Green party will:

  1. Promote legislation that will require animals to be slaughtered as near as possible to the point of production and require specific transport conditions, in order to minimise stress for animals.
  2. Investigate developing commercial farm kill services for the domestic supply of meat.

Live export of animals by sea involves high casualty rates and stress for the animals involved. To avoid this, the Green Party will:

  1. Support the adoption of a carcass and/or meat product only trade with overseas companies, and will prohibit immediately the transport of live farm animals for slaughter where the journey exceeds 8 hours.
  2. Encourage the exchange of breeding material through semen, egg and embryo import and export.

Animal Feed

  1. The Green Party will work to ensure that animals are fed a healthy, palatable diet which is provided in a way that allows normal patterns of behaviour and does not cause harmful side effects to the animals.

4. Animal Experimentation

Animal Ethics Committees Animal ethics committees play an important role in safe-guarding the welfare of animals in institutions and must be representative, accountable and well informed. The Green Party will work to:

  1. Ensure that at least half of the members of animals ethics committees are representatives of the wider community.
  2. Ensure that animal ethics committees have strong guidelines, are committed to minimizing animal use and have a thorough knowledge of non-animal methods of research.
  3. Require animal ethics committees to make records of all their deliberations available to the public.

Animal Experimentation Much experimentation involving animals is unnecessary and fails to show respect or compassion for them. The Green Party believes the extent of animal experimentation should be drastically decreased with the ultimate aim eliminating all animal suffering. The Green Party will:

  1. Support the development of non-animal experiments for testing products.
  2. Shift government funding away from animal experimentation to non-animal research methods.
  3. Require non-animal methods of experimentation and testing to be used wherever they exist.
  4. Where non-animal methods do not exist, experiments and research on animals are limited to situations where:
    1. It is endeavoured that no animal suffers as a result, and
    2. The study can show the potential for overwhelming benefit to animals or humans. Such research should recognise the principles of reduction, refinement and replacement, with the eventual aim of eliminating suffering, distress or pain to animals involved in animal experiments.
  5. Require all educational institutions to provide non-animal alternatives, wherever they exist, for course work.
  6. Require all educational institutions to limit, and eventually phase out, intrusive animal experimentation as a teaching method.
  7. Require all experiments involving animals to be reported to the Commissioner of Animal Welfare on an annual basis and for this information to be publicly available. Information required will include the species and numbers of animals involved, the purposes for which the animals were used, what non-animal methods were considered as alternatives to using animals and the reasons why none of these non-animal methods were able to be used.


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