Friday, June 21, 2024

New political party focusing on animal welfare issues

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Nicholas Hancock, left, and Robert McNeil are the local candidates for the Animal Justice Party at the 2023 general election. Times photo Chris Harrowell

East Auckland voters who are keen to see New Zealand’s animal welfare standards improve have a new political movement to support at this year’s general election.

The Animal Justice Party’s policies include promoting non-animal testing methods, banning animal exploitation in entertainment, and establishing a Commissioner for Animals.

The party is standing two candidates locally at the election scheduled for October 14.

Robert McNeil, its executive president and co-founder, is campaigning in the Botany electorate, while candidate Nicholas Hancock is contesting Pakuranga.

McNeil has recently moved back to New Zealand after living in Canada.

Hancock lives in Bucklands Beach and works in pre-hospital emergency care.

“Our goal to develop a voice for animals in politics,” McNeil told the Times.

“New Zealand has the highest ratio of animals to humans of any country in the world.

“We want to be part of the conversation and be able to speak out for animals.”

Among their party’s key policies is continuing the recently-implemented ban on the export of live farm animals from New Zealand.

The issue gained prominence in 2020 when a ship that departed Napier carrying almost 6000 animals sank off the coast of Japan while en route to China.

The tragedy resulted in the deaths of 41 members of its crew, including two New Zealanders, and 5867 cattle.

The Labour Government banned live export earlier this year, but the National and ACT parties both want it reintroduced.

“It’s a real stain on New Zealand’s reputation to see these beautiful female cows, many of them pregnant, on ships heading to the other end of the world just for profit,” McNeil says.

Hancock adds: “Once it [the ship] gets to its destination, whatever happens to those animals is out of our control.

“We don’t know, as far as slaughtering and breeding [what happens to the livestock].

“We’re just supplying animals to go off to who knows what. The laws in other countries are not the same as ours.”

Hancock says the party also wants the Government to work with farmers to move away from the use of animals.

“We want to support farmers to transition to a plant-based economy.

“They’re growing peanuts up in Kaitaia, and pineapples, and they’re talking about growing seaweed.

“There’s the whole medicinal cannabis thing. Farmers have options to transition and the Government needs to support them to do that.”

The Animal Justice Party welcomes votes from people who care about animal welfare and are considering voting for the Green Party, which isn’t standing candidates locally.

McNeil says his party is seeking support from Kiwis who care about sustainability and the environment, or who love animals.

“The Greens are in power but they compromise and we feel there’s a need for an uncompromising voice”.

Hancock concurs: “I’ve been a Green voter in the past but they’ve had all of this power for so long and not much has happened.

“National and ACT and Labour are not talking about animals, which is what we want to bring to the table and give animals a voice.”

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