National government could reintroduce live animal exports

By Will Trafford

Inside the Gulf Livestock 1 which sunk at 4.45am, September 2nd 2020 in the East China Sea, killing some 6,000 cattle and 41 people, including 2 New Zealanders. / SAFE

National says it will consider reintroducing live animal exports if it is elected to government next year. That came after its MPs yesterday voted against the bill banning them.

The Animal Welfare Amendment Bill passed into law, banning the export of live animals by sea from April next year.

The controversial exports have long been the target of animal rights campaigners but the government moved to ban the practice following the loss of the Gulf Livestock 1, which sank with 6,000 cattle and 40 crew onboard in September 2020, during a journey from Aotearoa to Japan.

“As New Zealanders grapple with a cost-of-living crisis made worse by the Labour government, today’s decision signals more economic pain for farmers and consumers,” National’s animal welfare spokesperson Nicola Grigg says.

National says the ban will reduce Aotearoa’s GDP by about half a billion dollars a year but government ministers dispute the calculation, saying those exports will add value to the local economy by being processed in Aotearoa, and then shipped abroad.

Two New Zealanders died in the Gulf Livestock 1 incident, which National MPs say they "acknowledge" but that it "was a tragic maritime disaster, and this response is as disproportionate as it is ideological".

National says the government should legislate a gold standard programme that would set world-leading compliance standards, including built-for-purpose ships, maximum stocking densities, vet and stock handler training, additional, or more robust reporting standards, exporter licensing and an importer quality assurance programme. 

“National has consistently proposed amendments for the government to consider.

We suggested empowering the Ministry for Primary Industries director-general to review whether standards could be applied that would ensure the animals' physical and behavioural needs are met on board vessels,” Grigg says.

“Instead of looking for constructive and collaborative solutions, the government has opted for an outright ban, at the expense of Kiwi livelihoods."

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