All talk, no trousers – Labour’s position on pig farming

On Thursday last week Brendon Burns, a Labour MP on the primary production select committee, posted on Red Alert about pig farming. More precisely he said he was horrified by sow crates, and he’d had a little dig at the Minister about MAF’s Chief Vet. So far so average, aware of issues, making political mileage, but there might be more… 

So we asked, a whole bunch of comments on Red Alert and a whole bunch on a related post on The Standard, we asked “What is Labour going to do?”

You see this is an area where Labour, although in opposition, could make a real difference right now. All they need to do is say with conviction “Within two months of Labour next winning an election and leading a government we will introduce the necessary small change in legislation, and big change in the animal welfare code to ban sow crates etc[1], we would have the changes in place in our first 12 months, they would come into force 2 years later”. So every single pig farmer in New Zealand, because they might not support Labour but they know Labour will lead a government again, will know when they plan a new piggery or do maintenance on an old one, that they should make the necessary changes now, because it’s cheaper to do it now that retrofit later. So if Labour stood and and said it with conviction, the conditions of pigs would start changing – not as fast as they should, but some pigs would live less horrible lives in 2010.

But anyway, back on with the story, commenters asked what Labour would do, suggested changes that could be made, and Rochelle even offered a private members bill she’s drafted.

Brendon Burns and his Labour friends? Not a peep, not a word, not a comment. So on Saturday I bumped the post, and got a reply from Brendon Burns:

Might be that other Labour MPs are onto this but I am happy to receive suggestions on amending legislation and have a look.
And, btw, MPs are eating free range pork (and chicken.) I asked a question of Bellamys months ago and they have assured me, via their suppliers, that no sow-crate pork is used, none imported and all free range.

Yeah, that’s right, we’ve already offered a private members bill, and the best he can do is say Bellamies don’t use sow crated pork and chicken. 

But y’know he might just have forgotten to read any of the comments, so I posted another comment to check that he has actually got a copy of Rochelle’s bill and… silence.

Perhaps Labour has a Plan, and will be announcing their animal welfare policy any day now. Sadly, however, it appears that, for Labour, the suffering of pigs is nothing more than an opportunity for political point scoring.

How decidedly average.


[1] Where etc includes all the cruel things done to intensively farmed pigs and chooks.

4 thoughts on “All talk, no trousers – Labour’s position on pig farming

  1. could be they are busy deciding political advantage / disadvantage in saying something or being seen to commit to something…

  2. They are just typical politicians and the pigs don’t have a vote. I wrote in favour of sow crates awhile back confusing them with farrowing set-ups. Now having seen a picture, the only image I could find, at the SPCA, I am definitely against the use of siow crates. Pigs are not humans but humans should look after them better than this.

  3. So bloody typical it isn’t funny. Go have a look over at Just Left. Jordan muses about how to change NZ’s disasterous financial system, and makes some good points. But when challenged that his party actively rejected these solutions (I really mean actively excluded them from consideration despite the strong wishes of Treasury officials) for 9 years, and has not changed policy, he clams up.

    I don’t expect perfection, but they can’t have their cake and eat it too. If they’re going to grandstand on these issues, they’re going to have to follow them up with actual policy in the form of legislation. Otherwise they’re just lying, giving false impressions that they care without being willing to actually do anything.

  4. Patrick,

    could be they are busy deciding political advantage / disadvantage in saying something or being seen to commit to something…

    I think that is exactly my point (and so much more concise – thanks!), Labour is focussed on the political calculation not the suffering. The politics is more important than doing the right thing.

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