Newshub Nation: National MP Nicola Grigg defends controversial live animal export policy

National MP Nicola Grigg on Saturday morning has defended her party's controversial live animal export policy.

Two years ago, Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor announced New Zealand would stop exporting live animals by sea.

He said it posed an unacceptable risk to our reputation in a world where animal welfare was under increasing scrutiny.

Newshub Nation: National MP Nicola Grigg defends controversial live animal export policy

National announced this week, however, it wants to revive the practice. 

Nicola Grigg, the MP for Selwyn and National's spokesperson for Animal Welfare, said while the practice has been controversial in the past, with a regulatory framework in place, bad operators would not slip through. 

"I do want to acknowledge that New Zealanders do have quite a bit of concern around this industry," Grigg told Newshub Nation.

However, she said tragedies that have happened during live animal exports in the past have taken place without legislative regulation. 

"If we were to form a Government we want to amend this animal welfare amendment act that has banned the trade and we would implement what's called a gold standard," Grigg told host Rebecca Wright. 

"The bottom line of that gold standard is that only custom-built ships can land in New Zealand and depart with our animals on board." 

National would look to set up this gold standard monitoring for tens of thousands of animals.

Monitoring for animals sent to China would cover their three-week voyages at sea, their time in Chinese quarantine across multiple ports and their transport (sometimes for hundreds of kilometres) to their final destinations across the country.

Last year, before live exports were banned, New Zealand shipped 130,000 animals overseas. 

China has no animal welfare rules but Grigg said "nor are there in America".

"There is not an animal welfare act in America yet New Zealanders don't seem to mind our animals going up there, so we've really got to question our underlying assumptions there. 

Asked whether New Zealand ships animals to the US, Grigg conceded "not as far as I'm aware". 

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), meanwhile, wouldn't have jurisdiction to enforce a gold standard in China - but Grigg remained adamant their desire for New Zealand animals would lead to them following the rules. 

"Equally, there are opportunities for MPI to work in with our off-shore counterparts," Grigg said. 

Asked how many MPI officers this would require, Grigg said "I wouldn't be able to tell you off the top of my head". 

"But we have people in our posts around China and it's very easy to get them up and to market if we go through this first round of auditing and certification and accreditation."

Watch the full video for more. 

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