18 Oct 2013

Industry wants change to Animal Welfare Amendment Bill

6:32 am on 18 October 2013

Industry feedback on the Government's proposed Animal Welfare Amendment Bill has been heard at Parliament.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says the changes to the bill are designed to strengthen it - improving its enforceability, clarity and transparency.

But the Meat Industry Association, which represents meat processors and exporters, told the Primary Production Select Committee on Thursday that some changes to the proposed new animal welfare laws are needed.

Chief executive Tim Ritchie says it's concerned about the enforcement action authorities would be allowed to take.

He says under the current act an inspector can without warrant enter premises to inspect and seize animals.

Mr Ritchie says clause 40 seeks to expand those powers to allow an inspector to take any photographs, sound, video recordings, drawings or other records.

He says the association opposes the proposed changes to clause 40 because material gained during such an entry could be made available through the Official Information Act and used to seriously damage the reputation of New Zealand exports.

Mr Ritchie says it may also unwittingly expose matters of commercial sensitivity for a particular plant to its competitors.

He says the association wants the clause removed from the bill, but if the committee believes it's necessary then it needs to be redrafted to make it clear that any photographs or whatever are for evidence during a prosecution and that such evidence will be destroyed immediately after use.

Mr Ritchie says apart from that, the Meat Industry Association generally supports the animal welfare bill.