Commissioner for Animals
SPCA supports the call for an independent Commissioner for Animals to ensure effective oversight of the animal welfare system.
The Ministry for Primary Industries administers the Animal Welfare Act 1999. However, it also works to increase export opportunities and improve productivity of animal agriculture. This risks creating a focus on improving welfare standards for the sake of people rather than for the sake of animals.
(See Animal Sentience for more information)
The animal welfare system must be effective for all animals, not just those that contribute to the majority of our primary industry exports. Animals in research, companion animals, animals in the wild, animals used in entertainment and farmed animals such as fish, pigs and chickens must receive adequate consideration. The system must be resourced appropriately.
Our organisation agrees that one way to ensure effective oversight of the animal welfare system would be the appointment of a Commissioner for Animals in New Zealand, in addition to the continuing work of the Ministry for Primary Industries, SPCA and existing Animal Welfare Committees.
Commissioners report to Parliament, maintaining independence from the executive Government. SPCA considers that this would help to address any real or perceived conflict of interest on the part of the Ministry for Primary Industries and the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee.
SPCA anticipates that an Office of the Commissioner for Animals would work similarly to the Commissioner for the Environment or the Commissioner for Children, and its functions would include monitoring, assessing and reporting on the animal welfare system; advocating on issues that affect animals; and advancing the interests of animals.