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Exports of live animals: Petition to maintain the ban signed by more than 57,000 people

The Labor Party introduced a live export ban in April last year, while still in government. Photo / Mark Mitchell

RNZ

A petition signed by more than 57,000 people calling on the Government to maintain its ban on the export of live animals has been delivered to Parliament.

Labor introduced the ban in April last year while still in government.

But the new Government has said it would like to restart live exports with “gold standard” rules to protect animal welfare and safety.

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A petition tabled in Parliament on Tuesday afternoon was accepted by former Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, who brought the ban into force.

He said the Government’s position was stupid.

“In government, we made the brave decision to clearly ban live animal exports, against some pressure from the agricultural sector.”

He said live animal exports made up a small part of total exports and they could see which direction the world was moving.

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“Since then, other countries are taking steps to ban live animal exports as well.”

The former veterinary director of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr. John Hellström, presented the petition.

He was concerned about the ships on which the animals were transported and even more concerned about the destinations to which the livestock would go.

“These farms are big; They start with 20,000 cows like a small one (and) the big ones go up to 120,000 cows.

“You can imagine that with so many cows crammed into a small space, they have very little room to roam.”

Hellström said he didn’t think most farmers knew the conditions they were sending their cows to.

“I think most farmers who let their animals into the trade take it for granted that they will be well treated during the journey and well treated at the end.

“They have no idea what’s going on there.”

The SPCA is one of the organizations supporting the ban on exporting live animals.

Its scientific director, Dr Arnja Dale, said conditions on export ships were appalling.

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“People know what is happening on these ships and that is absolutely unacceptable.”

Labor animal welfare spokesperson Rachel Boyack also announced at the event that the party would reverse any changes to the ban if re-elected.

Deputy Agriculture Minister Andrew Hoggard has said he would like to see changes to the ban in place next year.

-RNZ

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