Government's racing minister role contradicts new animal welfare portfolio - SAFE

A New Zealand animal welfare group says the Government's racing minister role in Cabinet contradicts the new animal welfare position.


Yesterday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced her new Cabinet - appointing Grant Robertson, who is also Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, to racing.

Meka Whaitiri was reinstated as Associate Minister of Agriculture with responsibility for Animal Welfare.

Today, SAFE chief executive Debra Ashton told 1 NEWS having a minister for racing was "a clear conflict" with a minister responsible for animal welfare.

She said there were serious welfare issues associated with both horse racing and greyhound racing.

“We are disappointed that role for animal welfare sits outside of Cabinet, but it is great to see the Prime Minister has put animals back on the political agenda again."

The ministerial role with a focus on animal welfare had been vacant for nearly two years, Ashton said.

She's calling for the racing portfolio to be scrapped instead.

"Racing is a dying industry with a poor track record on animal welfare. It shouldn't deserve its own portfolio.

"We'd like to see racing responsibilities wrapped into the Sport and Recreation portfolio, and for the new Cabinet to put a focus on improving our country's appalling record on animal welfare.

"Animal welfare is always going to be at odds with the interests of the racing and agriculture industry, both of which put profit ahead of the lives of animals."

When asked what she would like to see, Ashton said, "ultimately we want to see a minister for animal welfare inside Cabinet, and a Crown entity or similar with regulatory and enforcement powers".

"Animals need a voice, and a Minister with the clear mandate to improve their welfare."

Today, Robertson backed Kiwi horses and riders in the Melbourne Cup in his first move as the new Racing Minister.

He placed $5 each way on Verry Elleegant, Stratum Albion and The Chosen One, and also a boxed trifecta on Verry Elleegant, The Chosen One, Finche and Dashing Willoughby. 

"I've followed the industry for a long time, I grew up a stone's throw away from the Forbury Park trotting track in Dunedin."