Monday, March 20, 2006

In the ballot VIII

Another batch of private member's bills currently in the ballot. Previous batches are indexed here.

Dog Control (Exemption of Farm Dogs) Amendment Bill (David Carter): This would exempt farm dogs (and other "working dogs") from having to be microchipped, on the erroneous basis that chipping is primarily about controlling dangerous dogs. It's not - or at least, won't be after July 1st, when it becomes a general requirement. It's simply a basic way of identifying an animal - and one that cannot be lost and is far more difficult to remove or change. But farmers in this country seem to think they ought to be above the law (witness their attitude to farm bike WOFs and basic OSH standards), and so have been whining for special treatment. They shouldn't get it.

Dog Control (Epilepsy Assist Dogs) Amendment Bill (Sandra Goudie): This would amend the Dog Control Act 1996 to allow epilepsy assist dogs (dogs with either the rare ability to detect the onset of a seizure, or who act as guardians when one is occurring) the same rights of entry as guide dogs for the blind. Until seeing this bill, I didn't even know that there was such a thing as an "epilepsy assist dogs", but having done a little poking about them, the amendment seems like a reasonable idea.

Animal Welfare (Prohibition on the Use of Cages and Crates) Amendment Bill (Sue Kedgley): I'd like to talk about this bill, but its sponsor, Sue Kedgley, "[doesn't] want the industry to campaign against it before it even gets drawn". This is disappointing, and it neatly highlights one of the problems with the Members' ballot as it stands: the public has no automatic right to know what our legislators are trying to get before the House. Member's bills are considered private until drawn, with access dependent on grace and favour. In this case, that privacy is being exploited in an effort to prevent public criticism. While it may sometimes be uncomfortable, democracy is far better served by full transparency.

Parole (Truth in Sentencing) Amendment Bill (Heather Roy): this bill would for all practical purposes abolish parole, limiting it to the final 60 days of a criminal sentence. It would also effectively double sentences for minor crimes by abolishing early release. This would no doubt please the "hang 'em high" brigade, but it is simply vicious, pointless sadism - not to mention a mistake. Unless we adopt a penalty of life imprisonment for every crime, almost every prisoner will eventually be released sometime. It makes sense then to have a reasonable period of supervised release, where prisoners can both be reintegrated into society and are subject to the threat of recall if they become involved in even minor criminal activity. Roy's bill would fundamentally undermine this, and by doing so destroy an essential means of influencing prisoner behaviour upon release. And of course it would require us to build more prisons. Don't we have enough of them already?

As usual, I'll have another batch when more bills trickle in.


hmm.. I agree with you on all of these.
I also think reasonable animal welfare standards might be quite a good thing. Sue by the sounds of it just wants sow crates and hen cages banned, a well explored sort of topic.
It would be interesting to hear the defence from the industry but I think they should be forced to make that defence.

Posted by Genius : 3/20/2006 07:43:00 AM

It may be (marginally) undemocratic- but it's not like it won't be subjected to scrutiny later on in the process- and anything that helps to get sow crates banned is ok with me.

Posted by Amanda : 3/20/2006 08:17:00 AM

MTNW: And I'm sure that's exactly how Douglas and Richardson felt about the blitzkreig as well.

I approve of the bill, but I'd much rather it was advocated openly, rather than in secret.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 3/20/2006 09:18:00 AM

I'm for the banning of sow crates and hen cages, provided that they don't accidentally include more reasonable animal husbandry practices.

Both the sow crate and hen cage are simple modifications (i.e. made really small to maximise productivity) of proper animal housing, it would be 'bad' if they managed to accidentally excluded them particularly that a proper farrowing pen is benificial to the animals welfare (Sows are big and heavy and you can lose 60% of a litter from her rolling on her piglets). It's one reason I think that non-disclosure would be bad.

As for chickens, we ignore the propagana on the cartons. 'Barn' or 'free-range' have no real meaning in the NZ market. We buy eggs with the SPCA or AgriQuality brand on them as they have to meet a standard to put them on there.

Posted by Bloodrage : 3/21/2006 10:49:00 AM