Dr Tamasin Ramsay has been an actor on Neighbours, a paramedic, and has earned a PhD in medical anthropology – so why does she want to enter politics?
The Animal Justice Party’s Albert Park candidate has always loved helping people and animals.
“My core values are the core values of my party – kindness, equality, rationality, non-violence.”
After realising she wasn’t “emotionally mature enough to deal with becoming known” for her roles on television, such as BB Larkin in Neighbours, Ramsay decided to study paramedicine. She “needed something to ground [her]”.
Of her time working as a paramedic in Melbourne, she said, “It was a privilege to be with people in very vulnerable situations.”
Her care for others also saw her deeply involved in the Brahma Kumaris (BK), a worldwide spiritual movement drawn from the Hindu tradition. She had never enrolled to vote because she “wanted to heal the world through spirituality and meditation”, and it was only after returning to university following her paramedic career that she began to understand the importance of formal politics.
“It wasn’t until I did anthropology and learned that every human is a political actor whether we like it or not,” she said.
Ramsay and the Animal Justice Party (AJP) are campaigning to free hens from battery cages, end all live animal exports and to establish an independent office for animal welfare. In the Albert Park electorate, she wants to focus on the protection of the penguins at St Kilda pier and the marine life of Port Phillip Bay, though these policies are yet to be fully developed.
The party has no specific plans for the controversial Fishermans Bend area, which has been slated as a site of urban renewal by the Victorian Government and aims to provide employment for up to 80,000 people by 2050, according to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.
However, Ramsay stressed that “with any kind of development we always want to support humans’, and especially children’s, ability to interact with the natural world”.
“We guard against destroying habitats and we always want to make sure that the natural world is represented as well as the built environment,” she said.
However, the AJP’s chief goals lie beyond the bounds of local politics. Ultimately, she’d like to see all harming and killing of non-human animals ended. She believes that the vast majority of Australians love animals and don’t want to hurt them, but eat the products of animal agriculture out of convenience and tradition.
Ramsay advocates for the rights of animals because they have no voice of their own yet are “so affected by what we do politically”.
“I don’t feel it’s my right to exploit anyone, no matter who they are or what species they belong to,” she said.
She spends a lot of her time spreading information about the harms of factory farming, such as the fact that it contributes more to global greenhouse gas emissions than all cars and planes combined, according to the United Nations. She argues that these harms are not accurately reflected in the prices of animal products, which can see a packet of 24 sausages retail for $8.
When asked how the party would guarantee the jobs of those working in animal agriculture, Ramsay stressed that “we’re not anti-farmer”.
“We would like to see farmers supported in transitioning [to arable farming] . . . and we also understand that they can’t just shut down everything they’re doing overnight.
“We can generate more jobs in arable farming because it’s a labour-intensive industry.”
She believes that a movement away from animal agriculture towards plant-based diets would also benefit Australian society via a healthier populace, lessening the burden on the healthcare system.
Ramsay and the AJP acknowledge the difficulty of winning a Lower House seat. However, they aim to garner enough of the vote to send a message to the major parties to think more about animals. The party has not finalised to whom it will direct preferences.
When asked whether the scrutiny of political life scares her, much like being a famous actor, Ramsay’s views have changed as she has aged. She is willing to put herself on the line for what she believes in.
“I’ve done enough good in my life, and I know who I am; I know my failings, I know my strengths, I know my deep sense of who I am.
“So, you know, bring it on.”