29 Jun 2018

Cow beating video prompts Green Party push for stock monitoring cameras

5:24 pm on 29 June 2018

The Green Party is urging their government partners to look at changing the Ministry for Primary Industry's capabilities and responsibilities around animal welfare.

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Photo: VNP / Phil Smith

Farmwatch released footage yesterday of a contract milker repeatedly beating cows with a metal pole, and an MPI investigation is now under way.

MPI said investigators had spoken to the worker concerned, and also with the farm owner.

Green Party animal welfare spokesperson Gareth Hughes said MPI was not doing enough to stop animal abuse.

"The fact that he was subject to multiple complaints before this footage came out is worrying, we need MPI to step up and protect our animals.

"They need to be much more proactive in visiting these farms and inspecting the welfare conditions of the animals," he said.

MPI is not legally able to install hidden cameras where they suspect animal abuse or neglect is taking place.

Mr Hughes urged the government to look into changing the laws to allow the installation of cameras in milking sheds and slaughter houses.

"We're doing it on fishing boats, it's happening in Israel, in France and the United Kingdom.

"Every year we see these issues of abuses come out into the media and tragically it's only when activists bring the information forward, so I think it's something the government should consider," he said.

Mr Hughes said the Green Party also supported the separation of animal welfare roles and agriculture promotion.

He said a lack of animal welfare officers did not help.

The minister responsible for animal welfare, Labour's Meka Whaitiri, said she knew the number of officers was a problem.

"We've got 22 at the moment spread right throughout the country and I'm entering into discussions with officials about what the optimum number is, clearly 22 isn't enough," she said.

However, Ms Whaitiri was against installing cameras.

Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters said the role of agriculture and animal welfare should all remain with MPI.

"MPI has brought countless cases against cruelty to animal and if left to do the job properly and properly funded they'll go on doing it," he said.

Mr Peters also said cameras were not an option.

"The mass majority of these farmers are opposed to animal cruelty, so they should not have to go through all the cost because of a few reprobates," he said.

However, under the new animal welfare framework released yesterday, Ms Whaitiri said the government would be looking at the possible introduction of an independent voice on animal welfare and hiring extra officers.

What the changes would be and when they would take place was not yet known however, with Ms Whaitiri saying she was awaiting the outcome of the MPI investigation.

  • 'Heartbreaking' footage of cow beating released by animal rights group