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Five Plus Three: Legislating for the Five Freedoms and the Three Rs Animal Welfare Act 1999 (New Zealand)


Neil Wells and Judith Nicholson

The Animal Welfare Act 1999 (New Zealand) commenced on 1 January 2000. Rather than focusing on punishing cruelty, the Act establishes a positive duty of care that every owner or person in charge of an animal must provide for its physical, health and behavioural needs. The Five Freedoms, which were initiated by the Farm Animal Welfare Council (UK), were modified as the five basic needs of animals, relating to proper and sufficient food and water, adequate shelter, the ability to display normal patterns of behaviour, physical handling that minimises distress and protection from and rapid diagnosis of injury or disease. Minimum standards are provided in a series of codes of welfare, which is tertiary legislation under the Act. Promotion of the Three Rs — reduction, refinement and replacement — first championed by Russell & Burch, have been incorporated as a purpose of Part 6 of the Act, which restricts projects that use animals, and establishes codes of ethical conduct and animal ethics committees. The legislative process that enabled this to be realised is examined and analysed, and the process by which other Commonwealth countries have emulated this legislation is considered.