A GENETICIST with an unusually long name, who had an Opal card’s glass, electronic chip inserted into his hand last year, is one of 16 candidates running against former Agriculture and Water Resources Minister Barnaby Joyce, in the New England by-election.
Meow-Ludo Disco Gamma Meow-Meow lives in Sydney but says he’s no “blow-in” for the election contest that’s set for December 2, given his genuine farming, technology-driven credentials.
He says he has a “love” for Genetically Modified crops and believes Armidale, based in the rural NSW seat of New England which he’ll campaign to win for the fledgling Science Party over the next three weeks, can become a food and agricultural technology hub of the world.
Asked if he could win the seat and knock the Nationals leader out of federal parliament, Mr Meow-Meow said, “We’ll see”.
“There’s definitely a lot of support but the worst case scenario is we’ll help to raise the profile of science and farming technology,” he said.
“All technology improves peoples’ lives; not just the lives of farmers.
“People will say I’m just a blow in running against Barnaby Joyce in New England but I’ve lived in the country and spent a lot of time there.
“I want to represent New England to make it a food technology hub of the world and Armidale could also become an agricultural technology hub that the world looks up at.
“The infrastructure is already there; but the quality of internet access leaves a lot to be desired and the digital connectivity needs to be a lot better if Armidale is going to blossom.”
Mr Meow-Meow is not a complete stranger to federal politics having campaigned for the Science Party in the inner-Sydney seat of Grayndler against senior Labor MP Anthony Albanese at last year’s election.
“I only like taking on the big guns,” he said.
He also explained a cheeky comment on Twitter by ABC election analyst Antony Green after the New England nominees were declared, saying he expected the Science Party candidate to get his deposit back this time.
I think the Science Party candidate Meow-Ludo Disco Gamma Meow-Meow might get his deposit back.— Antony Green (@AntonyGreenABC) November 10, 2017
Mr Meow-Meow said campaigning against major parties like the Nationals or Labor was a challenging battle-ground for cash-strapped micro political parties like his.
But if he polled more than 4 per cent of the vote against the former Deputy Prime Minister, unlike last year against Mr Albanese where he only returned 1.5pc, his party’s $1000 deposit would be returned as part of the election payment rules.
As the Coalition government plunged deeper into crisis over the citizenship saga that claimed Mr Joyce’s scalp and has now forced Liberal MP John Alexander’s resignation and a by-election in his Sydney electorate, the deadline for nominees to fight out the New England battle closed on Friday.
As expected, Mr Joyce’s arch political enemy and long-time New England independent MP Tony Windsor wasn’t named in the lengthy list of candidates that will run at the December 2 poll.
Peter Wills for The Australian Greens, David Ewings for Labor, Mr Joyce for the Nationals, three independents and 11 minor or macro parties will also contest the seat including; CountryParty founder and local farmer Pete Mailler; Liberal Democrat Tristan Smyth, former WA metropolitan state MP Ian Britza for the Australian Country Party; and Skyla Wagstaff for the Animal Justice Party.
Mr Mailler - who is running his election campaign largely from the header as harvest continues on his farm - said a Melbourne cup-like field had nominated for New England’s by-election but “the race last week proved you shouldn't always back the favourite”.
“We are certainly pleased our democracy is alive and well,” he said.
“The truth is that the size of the field now means there is much greater chance of informal voting.
“It is a little intriguing that so many parties nominated with next to no chance of polling over 4pc, no chance of getting any Australian Electoral Commission funding to offset their expenses and no Upper House leverage for vote mining in the Lower House contest.
“The outcome of the size of the field will certainly make our job harder.
“We remain resolute and implore voters to number all the boxes after they put a 1 in number 11.
“Easy to remember legs eleven, I only have one leg - so put 1 next to 11.”
Mr Meow-Meow said the “big driving force” for his party was hitting the 4pc vote mark and “I think we’ll get there this time”.
On the citizenship scandal that’s pushing the Coalition government further into disaster with its majority now lost for the time-being in the House of Representatives as speculation suggests a dozen more members could be facing disqualification due to breaching Section 44 of the constitution, he said federal parliament was “a train wreck”.
“All it takes is a basic Google search to work out if you’ve got an issue with dual citizenship or not before you sign the form to nominate,” he said.
“I think it’s time for a federal ICAC and a full audit.
“A lot of people say Barnaby Joyce is a shoo-in to win but a lot of them also feel betrayed by these citizenship stuff-ups and don’t like politicians simply not following the constitutional rules for eligibility.”
Mr Meow-Meow said he didn’t live in New England but that wasn’t a disadvantage as he was well-connected to the regions, with a family farming background and also recently working in agricultural technology which has put him in contact with hundreds of farmers in recent months.
He was coy on divulging too many details about the specific product he’s developing in his work - but said it was an implant, like the glass chip he had inserted in his hand last year from an Opal card, which will work like a Fitbit for cows.
Asked what his views were of GM crops Mr Meow-Meow said, “I love it and not just because I’m a geneticist”.
“The biggest difference between the Science Party and the Greens is we’re evidence based,” he said.
“We’re pro-GM and we’re pro-nuclear.
“Those are two things I really care a lot about.
“I look at the evidence and see what works but the Greens don’t like GM crops or nuclear power because it goes against what they believe in ideologically.
“Over a trillion meals containing GM derived products have been consumed throughout the world over the last two decades and there’s not a single shred of evidence of any harm.
“If we rejected and frustrated the progress of other farming technologies like we have with GMs, we’d still be tilling our soils, we wouldn’t have no-till farming and there’d be no combine harvesters.
“GMs produce not only some of the highest yielding crops but they also reduce the use of pesticides and herbicides on farms.”
The Science Party’s GM policy says the technology represents “the next step in the agricultural revolution or green revolution”.
“The green revolution allowed great leaps in the ability to produce food in the 20th century which prevented widespread starvation previously predicted to accompany the growth in population seen in the 20th century,” it says.
“Genetically modified organisms, if used correctly, hold the promise of creating greater quantities of more healthy food for the whole of the world.
“They also hold the promise of solving other problems, such as creating plants that can produce new drugs.
“While the Science Party believes researchers should be free to research genetically modified organisms, there should be limits on this research (just as there is on all types of research) where harm to humans or the environment is possible.”
But on live exports, the Science Party opposes exporting animals used for consumption to countries whose animal welfare standards have not been approved by independent Australian regulators.
“We believe the heavily documented accounts of animal suffering justify an end to the current system of live export, and necessitate substantive changes if it is to continue,” the policy says.
Mr Joyce won New England last year with 58.5pc of the two-party preferred vote last year and is expected to win easily this time, with Mr Windsor deciding not to nominate.