Support base: Andy Meddick, the recently elected Western Victoria upper house MP representing the Animal Justice Party, was in Ballarat last week to open the city’s Vegan Festival. Photo: ALISTAIR FINLAY

AJP MP idealistic, but realistic

January 16, 2019 BY

IF recently elected Animal Justice Party upper house MP Andy Meddick has his way, we’d be drastically changing the way we use and interact with animals.

He’s opposed to the thoroughbred racing industry, eating animals and pretty much anything else that sees them used or killed for human use.

However, the Western Victoria Region MP knows he doesn’t have it all his own way, so the focus for his freshman term in parliament will be about creating change where he can.

“When you come from a philosophy of compassion and kindness and rationality and equality, which are our four key party values, it’s not hard to find common ground with people,” he said.

“Most people… do feel an affinity with non-human animals. They do want to abolish cruelty.”

When it comes to horse racing, Mr Meddick said there were many elements where incremental change could be made.

They include eliminating the crop, tongue ties, twoyear-old racing and jumps racing.

“It was an industry [jumps racing] that was on the way out when it was wholly and solely based on the Melbourne courses,” he said.

“Racing Victoria decided to try and revive it by sending it out to the country areas to try and get some interest in it… that hasn’t worked. More deaths, more injuries, more wastage.

“Do we think we can actually get rid of the flat track horse racing industry? Probably not. Governments in every state rely heavily on the gambling it provides.”

On dairy farming, Mr Meddick said that he was “philosophically” against it and not just from an animal welfare standpoint.

The impact of beef and dairy production on climate change and treatment of producers by those up the chain were also reasons he said there needed to be change in the space.

“Do I think I can think I can shut down the dairy industry? Of course not,” he said.

“I feel sorry for a lot of those families involved in it, they’ve been on those farms for generations and what happened to them with Murray Goulburn and the farm gate prices of milk, that was atrocious.

“We want to help those people if they want to get out of the industry and move into plant-based agriculture.”

At November’s election Mr Meddick polled just under 12,500 primary votes in the Wester Victoria upper house region for 2.17 per cent of the total cast.

Following the distribution of preferences he was able to stay in front as other groups were eliminated from the count and subsequently slid into fifth place.

The result was not unexpected.

“It’s been something we’ve been working towards for the last eight years,” he said.

“We had done the numbers, we had worked out a strategy, so we knew if we increased our primary vote beyond a certain point we knew that we would get there.

“Then is was a matter of building relationships with other parties and finding ground.”

Specific issues that Mr Meddick wants to see action on are the ones his party campaigned on.

They include ending duck hunting, battery hen farming, the use of 1080 poison along with strengthening current puppy farming legislation.

“We want to talk about a whole host of issues with the newly established office of animal welfare that the government has set up,” he said.

Looking at non-animal issues that will come before the parliament over the next term, Mr Meddick said being informed was what’s important when considering how to vote.

“When you’re actually in the house you’re there to vote on a number of issues. So you have to know what they’re about. Research is key, speaking with stakeholders is key, and that’s what we’ve doing for that last eight years and I’ll continue to do in the upper house.”

Following his election, Mr Meddick came in for criticism from some circles.

Liberal lower house member for Polwarth, Richard Riordan, said, “The Animal Justice Party is seeking to abolish livestock production, phase out Southwest Victoria’s dairy industry and cease controlling feral animals such as foxes and rabbits, among many, many other weird and wacky policy directions.”

Mr Meddick rejected those claims.

“I’ve seen the press releases he’s put out and they are nothing short of outrageous,” Mr Meddick said.

“They are of a party that is panicked and have been smashed. They are irrelevant in the lower house.”