The Pork Industry Board is a statutory agency. Yet it seems to assume it is a law unto itself.
Late last year, the Pork Industry Board threatened litigation to prevent the Government from releasing a draft code for animal welfare in piggeries for public consultation.
Last week, a leaked email from the Pork Industry Board revealed it was conspiring with pig farmers to evade the Official Information Act over its audit of animal welfare in New Zealand piggeries.
Today, the Sunday Star-Times has revealed that the Pork Industry Board is also likely responsible for covert surveillance of animal welfare activists, including the (not very) covert use of a tracking device on the vehicle of one animal welfare activist.
The Pork Industry Board is a statutory agency gone feral. It appears to be assuming it has surveillance powers that even the Police and the SIS don’t have. The Police and the SIS need to obtain warrants to use tracking devices on vehicles. For the Pork Industry Board to be able to do so without a warrant is outrageous.
The law is unclear as to whether such surveillance is lawful. But it should not be, and Keith Locke has today suggested that this should be addressed by an amendment to the Search and Surveillance Bill currently before Parliament’s Justice and Electoral Select Committee. Well done, Keith!
But looking at the bigger picture, the Pork Industry Board is a statutory agency that considers itself above the law in several respects. Agriculture Minister David Carter is either unable or unwilling to make it accountable.
The Pork Industry Board has three strikes against it now. Surely it is time for a Commission of Inquiry into its attempts on behalf of rogue farmers to subvert the process of requiring piggery owners to maintain humane conditions for their animals.