It’s got all the right ingredients: local celebrity, an epiphany, cute animals, industry bad guys, hoodwink, public outrage - the media’s happy as a pig in muck, this week. But why did it take so long?

The story’s been around for years -- decades, actually. Sue Kedgley has repeatedly climbed in and out of sow crates and posed with bald startled chooks, patiently asking the questions and releasing the statements. The Greens issue an animal welfare policy each election, the only political party to do so; fringe animal rights groups like Save Animals From Exploitation (SAFE - Hans Kriek’s employer), Open Rescue, and the Animal Rights Legal Action Network battle on; and occasionally, a young, usually female, celebrity lends her slight weight. I was only the last, least and, er, lowliest to mention it, when I posted about it on Pundit three weeks ago.

As I pointed out then, the Animal Welfare Act has a foot in both camps, promisnig proper care for animals but also  giving famers an out if their economic interests are at risk. Ultimately, I concluded, the welfare of animals lies in the hands of consumers and what we are willing to buy.

This is a brief post, because it’s the same story: the legalised cruelty that is possible, and practiced, under the auspices of the Animal Welfare Act.

Words, blah blah: for some things, only television will do. The question has always been: why should television producers and their viewers -- and Pundit readers, for that matter --  care, today any more than any other day, or at all? What’s the hook?

The hook, as it turned out, was a celebrity tantrum. Or perhaps, more accurately, a sort of road to Damascus conversion. Having parted company with New Zealand Pork the dollar signs fell from Mike King’s eyes, prompting him to do what he should have done in the first place, and investigate the industry he has long and, one guesses, lucratively promoted.

SAFE’s timing, ingredients and strategy -- yes, strategy -- are impeccable. I’ve been mightily impressed, watching it all play out: MAF’s inspection yesterday, the conclusion that under the relevant Code, the farmer has done nothing wrong. (Note to David Farrar: nice try, but your attempt to paint SAFE's strategy as cynical isn't plausible. As SAFE would have known, it was not putting public relations ahead of animal welfare; the fact that nothing can be done for those pigs by MAF is precisely the point. Legally, there is no animal welfare issue.)

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Sunday: where there’s a story, we’ll find it? There’s a tired old joke in that, or just a missing word. “Sensational”.

Comments (6)

by Adolf Fiinkensein on May 21, 2009
Adolf Fiinkensein

Dear lady, have you ever set foot on a farm?

The whole thing was contrived. Those pigs were actually quite happy until a bunch of eco terrorists turned up and shone lights in theri eyes in the middle of the night and n scattered around some pig meal so that the poor buggers thought they were about to be fed.  They were sqealing in anticipation, just like your own kids would if you ever stayed still long enough to concieve, at the thought of getting a good feed.

Mike King and the criminals from SAFE should be prosecuted for breaking and entering and causing malicious damage.  If the police don't bring charges with the current evidence in the public domain I might even do the job myself with a private prosecution.

Your heroes filmed themselves commmitting a serious crime and then asked a national TV network to broadcast the film.. You call that strategy?

by Tim Watkin on May 21, 2009
Tim Watkin

Er, what evidence do you have those pigs were "happy", Adolf? I could ask you just as facetiously whether you have ever been on a farm? The ones I've been on in this country have tended to have animals in pasture. Have you seen the size of those sow crates?

by Claire Browning on May 22, 2009
Claire Browning

Two points.

First, a lot - too much - was made of the "screaming".  Any animal with any wits, woken in the middle of the night by a bunch of strangers with a lot of scary-looking tackle, is going to cackle or squeal or whatever.  They may have thought they were about to be fed; more likely, they were just terrified.  I mean, wouldn't you be?  So as far as the "screaming" goes, I agree with you Adolf.  That wasn't my basis for asserting there's a welfare problem.

Secondly, I'm delighted you mention the prosecution aspect.  In real life, criminal law is my job - you're a salesman, I believe.  While I haven't analysed it closely, I'm guessing that if you go back and watch the footage, you'll find an insufficiency of evidence to meet your breaking/entering/malicious damage allegations.  Mike King was filmed outside the shed, and then inside, but not actually breaking or entering.  Nobody else - presumably the perpetrators of the breaking and entering (if that is what occurred) - was filmed at all, nor was the act itself.  There are some offences in the Trespass Act that might be tried.  But in addition to evidential sufficiency, police need to be satisfied that a prosecution is in the public interest, which includes consideration of the likelihood of its success.

(By the way - here's how "conceive" is spelt.)

by Adolf Fiinkensein on May 22, 2009
Adolf Fiinkensein

Which just goes to show the law is an ass, overseen by donkeys.

by Adolf Fiinkensein on May 22, 2009
Adolf Fiinkensein

The specious Tim Watikin, nine years close involvement in the livestock nutrition industry, a degree in agricultural commerce, forty years experience in agricultural commerce.

Now what do you have to offer apart from a few years propogandising the news for the left?

by Don Donovan on May 28, 2009
Don Donovan

'Only Vegetables Are Happy'
William Faulkner

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