A ban on the export of live cattle, sheep, goats and deer from New Zealand will come into force this month, following years of campaigning by the SPCA backed by widespread public support. But we are having a general election in October 2023, and the National and Act parties have stated that if they come into power, live animal exports will be started again.
This practice is both cruel and unnecessary. A position statement from the SPCA has described the stressors on animals undergoing sea voyages lasting weeks or months: fear and anxiety, exposure to disease, overcrowding, overheating, motion sickness and more. Some animals die on board, and in 2020 almost 6,000 drowned when a livestock container ship en route from New Zealand to Saudi Arabia sank off the coast of Japan. And, depending on the adequacy of health and welfare in the destination countries, animals may be subjected to further suffering when they arrive.
There are alternatives to live export. Animals for food could be slaughtered here and their refrigerated carcasses exported. For breeding purposes, semen and embryos rather than live animals can be used.
This issue presents me with a moral dilemma. I don’t want to see the Labour Party returned again; since they have been in government New Zealand has gone backwards with falling standards in healthcare and education, increased poverty and crime, increased racial divisions, billions of dollars wasted on idealistic projects which have never been completed. Until now I had been firmly intending to vote for either National or Act, but how can I justify supporting a party which will reinstate live animal exports? Several letters published in the NZ Herald newspaper, including one from me, have expressed this dilemma. I have written to the party leaders, and my local MP, to protest the policy and I hope that if enough other people do the same they will revoke it. If not, is the only answer not to vote at all?