The Government needs to come clean and tell New Zealanders whether or not it intends to phase out all cage systems for hens, Green Party animal welfare spokesperson Sue Kedgley said today.
Ms Kedgley will join New Zealand's leading animal welfare advocacy groups SAFE and the RNZSPCA in calling on the Minister of Agriculture to prevent the use of colony cages. The Government is considering replacing battery cages with so-called 'enriched' colony cages. The Government has even partially subsidised a trial of colony cages at Mainland Poultry near Dunedin.
"I believe the Government is deliberately holding back an announcement that they will replace battery hen cages with equally cruel colony cages until after the election," said Ms Kedgley.
"This risk averse Government doesn't want animal welfare to become an election issue.
"The Government has already decided it will switch from one cruel cage system to another, and has provided several hundred thousand dollars of funding for a colony cage project.
Ms Kedgley said it was disappointing that the Government was proposing to consign millions of hens to a lifetime of hell in colony cages, but the company involved in the trial would not allow the media, or members of the public, to see the new colony cage systems.
The Green Party is making a pledge today to campaign for the phase out of all caged systems for hens, and it is calling on all other political parties to do the same.
"There is no excuse for forcing hens to live inside cages all of their lives, when there are viable alternatives such as free range and barn systems," Ms Kedgley said.
"If we treated domestic pets the same way we treat hens then there would be a nationwide outcry," said Ms Kedgley.