Govt bypasses select cmte

The Herald reports:

Ministry for Primary Industry officers will be able to go on to farmers’ properties unannounced and without warrants and seize items without cause, says National Party agriculture spokesman Nathan Guy.

The Government introduced the NAIT Amendment Bill last Thursday, and passed it under yesterday. The Bill makes changes to the Act which will allow for warrantless inspections of farms, clarifies animal movement requirements, and makes it an offence not to record animal movements.

While some industry groups have been quick to welcome changes to the National Animal Identification and Tracking Act (NAIT), the Government has come under fire for rushing through legislation to help tackle cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

Guy said that while some changes to NAIT were needed, Parliament had been “denied the opportunity to properly scrutinise Government amendments which may not be in the best interests of farmers”.

“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.

Guy said National asked O’Connor to send the Bill to select committee during the two-week recess to allow public input and ensure there were no unintended consequences for farmers, but the Minister refused.

A two week hearing during recess seems reasonable and better than not giving the public any say at all.

“National proposed amendments during the debate that an officer needs reasonable cause to suspect non-compliance with NAIT before entering the property.

That also sounds very, well, reasonable.

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