The government has given MPI more power than police, and done it under urgency:
While some changes to the National Animal Identification and Tracking Act (NAIT) are needed, Parliament has been denied the opportunity to properly scrutinise Government amendments which may not be in the best interests of farmers, National’s Agriculture Spokesperson Nathan Guy says.
“Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has had months to introduce this Bill into Parliament, but instead he expanded wide-ranging search powers under urgency.
“Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) will be able to turn up to farmers’ properties without getting a warrant and seize anything they want, unannounced and without cause.
This gives MPI more power than the police.
National asked Mr O’Connor to send the Bill to select committee during the two-week recess to allow public input and ensure there are no unintended consequences for farmers, but the Minister refused.
“National proposed amendments during the debate that an officer needs reasonable cause to suspect non-compliance with NAIT before entering the property.
“We also proposed that these wide-ranging warrantless powers being curtailed, so a NAIT officer can’t seize property without obtaining a warrant.
“Unfortunately, both of these safeguard amendments were voted down by the Government.
These safeguards are given to suspected drug dealers, gangs and thieves and but not to farmers.
“However, National did successfully move an amendment that requires the Minister to report to Parliament next year on how these expanded powers are being used. We will await this review with a great deal of interest.
“National reluctantly supported the legislation to improve NAIT’s performance but remain gravely concerned about the process and invasion of farmer’s privacy.”
A serious biosecurity incursion is one of the greatest risks New Zealand faces and the difficulty tracing stock with the Mycoplasma bovis has highlighted deficencies in the NAIT system.
Change and improvements were needed but that doesn’t justify forcing through such draconian law under urgency.