General policy statement
There has been considerable disquiet, in recent times, about the Animal Welfare Act 1999 (the principal Act) allowing practices to continue in New Zealand, even when they breach key sections of the principal Act.
For example, the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) acknowledges in the Code of Welfare for Pigs (2005), that the use of dry sow stalls for extended periods does not fully meet the obligations of the principal Act. Nevertheless, NAWAC has allowed this practice to continue by using the
“exceptional circumstances” exception in section 73 of the principal Act.
This contradiction undermines confidence in the principal Act, and in its ability to protect the welfare of animals.
This Bill clarifies that practices that breach key sections of the principal Act, but which are still permitted in a code of animal welfare under the
“exceptional circumstances” exception, must be phased out within 5 years.
In line with international practice, the Bill also clarifies that the definition of physical, health, and behavioural needs includes animals having freedom of movement, that is not restricted in such a way as to cause them suffering or injury, and sufficient space to express normal patterns of behaviour such as being able to turn around easily and walk about.
The Bill also provides the Minister responsible for the administration of the principal Act with the power to amend or revoke an animal code of welfare, or any minimum standard contained in such a code of welfare, where the Minster considers this is necessary to prevent suffering or injury to any animal.
Clause by clause analysis
Clause 1 is the Title clause.
Clause 2 is the commencement clause and provides for the Bill to come into force on the day after the date on which it receives the Royal assent.
Clause 3 provides that the Bill amends the Animal Welfare Act 1999.
Clause 4 states the purpose of the Bill, which is to ensure that the key provisions of the principal Act are promoted and to allow any exceptions to these to apply only for a reasonable period of time.
Clause 5 amends section 4 by inserting an additional factor in the definition of physical, health, and behavioural needs.
Clause 6 amends section 73 by inserting new subsections (3A) and (3B) relating to matters to be considered in relation to codes of welfare made under the principal Act.
Clause 7 amends section 76 by adding new subsection (3) to provide the Minister with the power to amend or revoke a code of welfare, or any minimum standard contained in a code of welfare, in certain circumstances.