Anti-vaxxer organisation apologises for false claims

UPDATE 12.20PM: THE Australian Vaccination skeptics Network has acknowledged it was incorrect in claims that certain peak medical bodies opposed the Federal Government's No Jab No Pay legislation.

The AVsN's new statement released today said "we incorrectly stated that the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) had entered a submission to the Senate Inquiry into No Jab, No Pay opposing the legislation.

"In fact, it was the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP), an organisation representing 22,000 physicians and paediatricians across Australia and New Zealand that had written a submission in opposition to the legislation."

In its submission, the RACP argued the policy could "have the unintended consequence of strengthening the opinions of the small population subset that hold negative views around the goals and safety of vaccination programs", and would "disproportionately affect poorer members of the community, who are more vulnerable to any adjustment to benefit conditions, rather than wealthy conscientious objectors".

However, unlike the AVN, the RACP is pro-vaccination, and wrote in it was "a strong advocate of vaccination, vaccination programs, and other initiatives to promote high compliance rates of immunisation for vaccine-preventable diseases."

The AVN also admitted its claim that the National Centre for Immunisation Research & Surveillance also opposed the legislation was incorrect.

University of Sydney Associate Professor Julie Leask, a research fellow at the NCIRS who made a submission which criticised the policy, but Professor Leask was submitting in her position as a University of Sydney academic.

Professor Leask is a vaccination researcher who argued in her submission that the proposed laws were "not grounded in evidence" and brought "unintended deleterious consequences".

However, both Professor Leask and the RACP state in their submissions they are pro-vaccination, unlike the AVN.

One of Professor Leask's grounds for opposing the policy was her doubt over its ability to influence the opinions of entrenched vaccination opponents, while the RACP also had ethical concerns.

 

TUESDAY 4.30PM: THE Royal Australian College of General Practitioners has refuted claims made by the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network that they opposed the Federal Government's No Jab No Pay legislation. 

The AVN released a statement today claiming the legislation - which bars vaccination opponents from receiving Centrelink family payments - was opposed by the RACGP and other peak medical bodies.

"From representatives of the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) to the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register; to the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners as well as a host of vaccine service providers, the voices amongst the mainstream medical community were nearly unanimous in their opposition to this legislation," AVN president Tasha David said.

But a spokeswoman from the RACGP pointed to material on their website which clearly showed they supported the policy. 

"This measure, coupled with the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register (ACIR) effective from 1 January 2016, is a welcomed initiative," the website states.

The National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance also refuted the claim they opposed the legislation. 

"The NCIRS, together with state and territory government health departments and many others involved in the National Immunisation Program are currently supporting implementation of the Australian Government's new policy for immunisation requirements for family assistance payment eligibility," a spokeswoman said.

Ms David could be not be reached for comment.

 

ORIGINAL: THE Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network has announced they will launch legal action to appeal the Federal Government's No Jab No Pay legislation in the High Court.

In a statement circulated to supporters, the AVN has appealed for donations from their supporters for what is expected to be a "long and expensive" legal battle.

"The Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network (AVN) announced this week that they have received a preliminary oral advice from their barrister indicating that at least one avenue has been found to challenge the Federal Government's No Jab, No Pay legislation, enacted in January of this year," the organisation's statement says.

It says the barrister felt the "avenue has reasonable prospects of surviving an application for strikeout or summary dismissal... meaning that those in the community who believe No Jab, No Pay to be both unconstitutional and discriminatory, should have their day in the highest court in the land to press their case for the law to be overturned."

"This action, supported by members of the AVN and thousands in the broader community, is seeking sponsorship for what could very well be a long and expensive battle," it goes on.

The AVN announced it has set up a web page where supporters can donate funds for the legal battle.

AVN president Tasha David said the Federal Senate Hearing on the No Jab, No Pay legislation held in October last year "had over 3,000 submissions opposing the legislation and a mere handful supporting it" and "the voices amongst the mainstream medical community were nearly unanimous in their opposition to this legislation".

Ms David has been contacted for comment.



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