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Australian Vaccination Network

Anus Maximus Award 2001The Australian Vaccination Network was the big winner in the 2001 Millenium Awards, taking out the prestigious Anus Maximus Award. The award was announced in the following words:

Several years ago I wrote book about the Internet and I had to research pornography and other "offensive" things because it was obvious that I would be asked about this in most, if not all, promotional interviews. Nothing I found then offended, saddened, upset or angered me as much as a web site belonging to an organisation called the Vaccination Awareness Network, where, in perfectly rational and calm language, parents were advised to kill their children with measles and cripple them with polio. It was the closest I have ever come to being converted to the cause of censorship.

In 1999 I discovered that the organisation had changed its name to the Australian Vaccination Network and had a new web site. I can only assume that this change to a more neutral name was made to deceive people into thinking that the organisation was about vaccination, not about preventing children from getting it. That name change and web site were the inspiration for The Millenium Project.

The AVN again has a new web site, with a new domain name this time. I don't know why they have the new domain name unless they are planning to move the organisation into the more lucrative US market. I expect that the organisation name will also change to something a bit more international. It will probably be something a bit more innocuous as well so that more parents can be deceived into thinking that this organisation is interested in the welfare of children.


Encouragement AwardThe AVN backed up to win an Encouragement Award in the 2009 Millenium Awards. The award citation read:

2009 wasn't a good year for the AVN. It got off to a bad start when some AVN members thought that it would be a good idea to abuse the parents of a baby girl who died of whooping cough at the age of four weeks. The parents were less than amused by this and went to the media, resulting in some less than flattering coverage for the AVN and its child-endangering activities. No longer seen as the experts on vaccination, suddenly the organisation was being asked to justify its actions, something that could only be done by denigrating and abusing their opponents. Later in the year they came to the attention of the authorities for collecting money without a current charitable organisation registration and then found themselves being investigated by the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission. To make matters worse it was discovered that they had not been telling the truth to advertisers in their magazine (one advertiser said that they didn't want to be involved with "deranged" people like the AVN) and had been claiming an association with a charity when no such association existed. They closed a couple of Facebook pages when people started asking questions, purged their email mailing list, took their magazine out of newsagents and naturopaths' waiting rooms and begged for money several times to keep the doors open. The President of AVN, Meryl Dorey, won the Australian Skeptics' Bent Spoon Award for 2009.

The purpose of this award is to encourage them to continue as they are because this means that they might soon disappear completely, thus making a positive contribution to public health and particularly the health of children.

Dear Ms Dorey,

Congratulations. The Australian Vaccination Network won an Encouragement Award in the 2009 Millenium Awards presented by The Millenium Project. While this might not be as pleasing to you as the Anus Maximus Award that the AVN won in 2001, the judges felt that after the year of bad publicity that the AVN received in 2009 you need some encouragement. The award citation read:

[see above]

Please feel free to publicise your award and display the award logo on your web site. If you wish to collect the physical prize (a tube of haemorrhoid cream and a wire brush applicator) you can do so at your own expense, but please give me sufficient notice so that I can organise the location for the public application of the cream and the accompanying media coverage.

You can see the other award winners at http://www.ratbags.com/rsoles/history/2009/2009awards.htm


Encouragement AwardThe AVN did it again with an Encouragement Award in the 2013 Millenium Awards. The award citation read:

The Australian Vaccination Network has appeared twice before in the Awards listings (in 2001 and 2009), and it is time to give them some more encouragement, especially as this will be the last time they can appear using that name. 2013 was a bad year for the AVN, losing court cases initiated to silence critics by abusing the legal process, seeing legislation changed to close a loophole that allowed them to avoid government scrutiny, finally being told that there are people with the authority to order them to change the deceptive name, seeing the introduction of stricter rules designed to keep the pox-ridden spawn of vaccine deniers away from children in prescools, and getting Facebook to look at the way that their complaint systems can be manipulated by liars.

The AVN needs encouragement now more than ever before. Encouragement to continue the downward spiral into oblivion. They will leave a vacuum that will almost inevitably be filled by another organisation or group lying about the dangers of vaccines, but that replacement group will be working in an environment much more hostile and aware than that which allowed the AVN to flourish and endanger children for so many years.

Dear Ms Dorey and Mr Beattie,

Congratulations. The Australian Vaccination Network won an Encouragement Award in the 2013 Millenium Awards presented by The Millenium Project. This makes the third time the AVN has appeared in the winners' list. Hopefully it will be the last. The award citation read:

[see above]

Please feel free to publicise your award and display the award logo on your web site. If you wish to collect the physical prize (a tube of haemorrhoid cream and a wire brush applicator) you can do so at your own expense, but please give me sufficient notice so that I can organise the location for the public application of the cream and the accompanying media coverage.

You can see the other award winners at http://www.ratbags.com/rsoles/history/2013/2013awards.htm


The AVN has a mailing list at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/AVN/, but they are so ashamed of their activities that they won't let me join the list. In fact, I have been banned. You can see the full story of the banning by clicking here.

Banned from a mailing list!


Here is a rather unambiguous statement about vaccines. It was made on December 17, 2008, by Meryl Dorey, AVN president, on the AVN's mailing list. Remember that these people claim to only want vaccines to be safe and for parents to make informed choices.

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/AVN/message/36449

There will come a time - I pray to God that it will happen in my lifetime - when those who have pushed vaccines upon innocent, helpless babies - doctors, pharmaceutical companies, government officials - will be proven to have lied and cheated these instruments of death into our children's bloodstream. When that occurs, the outcry will be heard around the world and there will not be enough hiding places on the globe for these murderers to hide or enough money to pay for compensation. Of course, it will be too late for the babies, like this poor child, to be saved. But we will be able to take satisfaction from the fact that never again will anyone have to be pushed to poison their child because for once and for all, it will be known as poison and we will all wonder how it was we fell for the vaccine lie for as long as we did.

When that time comes, will you be able to say that you did everything in your power to help bring the truth out? Support your local pro- vaccination choice organisation, speak to friends and family about these tragedies and never, ever stay quiet about the dangers of vaccination. Those of us who know owe it to others to speak our truth.

All the best,
Meryl



The AVO saga continues (15/6/2013)
The blatant attempt by Meryl Dorey of the Australian Vaccination Network to abuse the law in order to stifle my right of free speech was dismissed in Lismore Local Court on April 26. Parties have 28 days to lodge an appeal in these cases and sure enough, at the last possible minute on May 24 Ms Dorey lodged an appeal. The grounds for the appeal as set out in the application read in full:

I am appealing because I contest the dismissal of an Apprehended Violence Order made in these proceedings.

That's all. I'm now expected to waste even more of my time responding to something which cannot even be clearly expressed given four weeks to write it out. She's appealing because she doesn't like the decision. Well, that's tough. She had three opportunities to present evidence in the original application (her original submission, the second statement she managed to convince the court she should be allowed to submit, and at the actual final hearing) so she can't really claim that there is any new evidence. As she has delayed the action against another defendant by requesting a change of magistrate because the one assigned might be biased, perhaps she is going to use a similar claim to support her appeal. I certainly hope so, because there's nothing the bench likes more than being accused of bias, and Ms Dorey's comment about the possibility of this in my case went down like a depleted uranium balloon with the magistrate.

The appeal is listed for mention in the District Court in Lismore on July 29.


I'm on the television (15/6/2013)
A couple of weeks ago a crew from the television program Today Tonight called in at Ratbag Castle to record some comments from me about the methods used by anti-vaccination campaigners to harass people in order to advance their disgusting anti-health agenda. Coincidentally it went to air on a day which I had spent in a courtroom listening to lawyers argue over whether the AVN could be forced to change its deceptive name. Today Tonight attracted the fourth highest audience across all Australian television networks that night, so a lot of people got to see and hear what all the people in the show said.

You might notice that in response to a question from the interviewer about why she was trying to get a restraining order on someone who lives 750 kilometres away Meryl Dorey made the slightly defamatory claim that I had encouraged people to send pornography to her (I didn't, of course) and she also admitted that the AVO application had nothing to do with the "V" part but was to stop me from saying things in public. I would have thought it unwise to go on a television show which usually attracts more than 5% of the Australian population as viewers and say such things while in the process of appealing a judicial decision about these matters. But I am not a lawyer.

Another point was the use by the narrator of the term "vaccine refusers". This is now the official term used in government publications to replace the expression "conscientious objectors". As the only basis for conscientious objection could be active and devote membership of a religious community, and as all major religious groups and sects in Australia have stated they they have no objection to vaccination and in fact actively encourage it, the word "refuser" is the correct word to use. (It surprised people to find that the obvious standouts, Jehovah's Witnesses and Christian Science not only do not forbid vaccination but actively encourage it. This is why the anti-vaccination liars are trying to set up their own sham church to get around the law.)


The news just gets better (15/6/2013)
Sydney's Daily and Sunday Telegraph papers have been running a campaign called "No jab, No play" about the anti-vaccination campaigners for several weeks now, resulting in much angst among the refusers and much hate mail being sent to journalists. The latest story (June 16) doesn't appear to be online anywhere, but here is what it looks like:

Here it is in words for the benefit of search engines.

Group investigated for fraud

An anti-vaccination group that was ordered to change its name because it was ruled to be misleading is also being investigated for consumer fraud and commercial activities in breach of its not-for-profit status.

The Australian Vaccination Network earned $281,885 in 2010, of which $187,405 came from selling magazines, books and videos based on discredited science linking vaccinations to autism and other anti-medicine books including one alleging mammograms arc dangerous.

Another $76,996 was earned from "rendering of services", according to documents obtained under Freedom of Information.

The AVN is a registered not-for- profit association under the Associations Incorporations Act, which also qualifies it for a tax exemption. However, the group may be engaged in commercial activities that would contravene the act.

The Department of Fair Trading wrote to AVN founder Meryl Dorey early last year questioning the association's 2010 annual financial summary and asking her to clarify what "rendering of services" meant.

Ms Dorey responded in April last year saying she did not have to provide the information because "we are not a charity authority holder".

Greg Beattie, the current president of AVN, also sells his own book, which rails against vaccinations, for $20 each.

The Director of Investigations for the Department of Fair Trading David Byrne confirmed the department was examining the AVN's finances.

Meanwhile, Tasha David, the mother of eight put up by the AVN to be interviewed by television networks on May 19 describing how six of her children were injured by vaccinations is actually one of six committee members of the AVN. She confirmed she did not disclose this to media because: "I wasn't asked".

We have met Tasha David before, when she was allowed to make an anonymous attack on me on an Australian Vaccination Network web page. Read all about it here.

If you want to know where the paper got it's information about the AVN's finance woes, look no further than Ken McLeod's excellent "Meryl Dorey's Trouble With Finance" and the analysis by my other friend Christine Bayne.


They sentenced me to twenty hours of boredom (15/6/2013)
On June 13 and 14, the appeal by the Australian Vaccination Network against the demand by the NSW Office of Fair Trading that the AVN change its deceptive name was heard in the Administrative Decisions Tribunal. In television courtroom dramas there is always action, and the admissibility of evidence is decided in minutes. In reality, a hearing like this is mostly even more boring than the clichéd drying paint, particularly when the lawyers for the parties each have three very large two-ring binders of paper and take it in turns to read from the voluminous documentation discussing which parts of it will later be actually considered as evidence. At one stage I found myself reading the Administrative Decisions Tribunal Act for some entertainment.

I won't give a blow-by-blow commentary because all that really matters is the decision, but here are some of the highlights. The Internet meme LULZ applies.

With only five minutes left before official court closing time, and with two days transcripts to review, along with a rereading of the admitted evidence, the magistrate unsurprisingly announced that her decision would be announced on a date to be fixed. That decision will be announced here as soon as it is known. It is always unwise to second-guess how judicial decisions might go, but I am quietly confident. As, no doubt, is the management of the AVN.


And another thing (15/6/2013)
Facebook occasionally makes suggestions about pages that it thinks your friends think you might like to like. This turned up on a friend's news feed. And I remember when the future of machine intelligence seemed so bright.


Extremists go extreme (22/6/2013)
During the week an official of the Australian Vaccination Network apparently forgot to take her medication and posted the following to Facebook:

Here are the words, with the major lies marked by the traditional yellow highlighter.

Medical doctors, their professional bodies such as the AMA and the RACGP and our government health officials all want to be able to tell us that they care more about our children then we do. They want to be able to tell us that we MUST vaccinate our children even if we think that it would harm them. They want to maintain their lucrative monopoly on healthcare, excluding all others no matter how safe and effective they have proven to be and no matter how many people want to avail themselves of these remedies.

Mainstream medicos now say they believe that vaccines don't protect the individual unless, through some sort of unscientific mumbo-jumbo EVERYONE receives them. Then, magically, everyone will be protected - because they say so. The reason for this being that we have more people vaccinated then we've ever had before and yet, the fully vaccinated are coming down with these diseases in record numbers. Since vaccination cannot be to blame - the villain must be the healthy unvaccinated, right?

The Western medical industry has overseen the largest increase in disabled and chronically-ill children ever. Through their poor stewardship, we now have 1 child in 6 who is learning disabled and 1 child in 50 who is autistic. 1 in 3 of our children is asthmatic and this current generation of children will be the first in living memory to have a shorter lifespan then their parents.

Doctors want to be given absolute rights to do and say whatever they wish simply because they are doctors. They want to be respected as a result of their 8 years of pharmaceutically-provided education, yet they do not want to accept responsibility for the fact that people are leaving them in droves for more effective, safer and gentler natural therapies which have been around for hundreds or thousands of years longer than drug-based medicine. People are not stupid - they know what words (sic) and what does not and they are tired of being killed and maimed in the name of pharmaceutical profits.

Please read the comments below from the page of the Australian Doctor Weekly regarding why doctors should not sign conscientious objection forms and why parents should lose all of their rights. These are the people our politicians are listening to. These are the true terrorists in our society. Freedom of choice is NOT free. It must be fought for and it must be defended. If we are not prepared to do what is necessary to protect our children, then truly we HAVE lost our way as citizens of a democratic nation

I was going to write something comprehensive about this insanity but I'm short of time and will leave it for later. In the meantime, you can see some comments by my friends Reasonable Hank and Shelley.

Doctors are terrorists? I haven't laughed so much about anyone being called a terrorist since the late and unlamented Hulda Clark tried to sue me. One of the charges was "Terrorist threats". Oh, and I love it when quackery supporters talk about "Western medicine". I wonder where they think chiropractic and homeopathy were invented.


Greening the vaccines (13/7/2013)
Last week I mentioned the distress that statements from the Greens Party had caused to the Australian Vaccination Network. The butthurt has continued, and the President of the AVN demanded the right of reply. He appeared on the television program Today Tonight to have his say.

Then the whining started again. The claim is being made that Greg Beattie was promised that he would have 60 seconds to make his point and that he would not be edited in any way. I've done a lot of media interviews and promises like these are never made, because they can't be kept. There is an obvious edit in Mr Beattie's piece (it's when the screen flashes white) and what was taken out was something that could have exposed the program to legal action for defamation. (I know this because the excised words have since been published by the AVN.) As an aside, if Meryl Dorey took out AVO applications to stop threatening phone calls, why didn't she accuse me of that in her application against me?

The whining continued with demands that the Greens repudiate Senator Di Natale, and part of this was based on the fact that the AVN had received support from Dr Bob Brown in 1997 when he was the Parliamentary leader of the Greens. Dr Brown has since retired, but his support then was on the matter of conscientious objection, and he took the civil rights position (which I happen to share) that it is wrong to close off the opportunity for people to object to having their religious principles compromised. He wasn't talking about creating fake churches or just saying that you didn't like something, but about firmly held religious beliefs. The AVN suggested that Dr Brown be brought back into the discussion to show that he still supported their crazed agenda.

Here is what Dr Brown had to say:

Dear [citizen],

I support the work of Greens Senator Richard Di Natale in promoting vaccination to ensure Australians are protected from needless death or damage.

It is true that in the 1990s I endorsed the right of true conscientious objectors against compulsory vaccination. However, my view then, as now, was that vaccination is in in the interests of public health and should be promoted.

My endorsement for conscientious objection does not extend to orchestrated campaigning against public vaccination and I have grown very concerned that upholding the right of conscientious objection has now become part of the campaign against public vaccination.

I have not been consulted by AVN in using selected quotes from me and I do not support AVN’s campaign against public vaccination.

Yours sincerely,

Bob Brown

PS You may treat this as a public letter.

Suck on that, anti-vaccination liars. You've been caught out in another lie.


The idiocy continues (27/7/2013)
Just a reminder that I'm back in court on Monday, July 29, to respond to yet another attempt by Meryl Dorey of the Australian Vaccination Network to abuse the courts and the legal system in order to stop me talking about her, her nefarious activities and the filth propagated by the AVN. Her ridiculous attempt to have an Apprehended Violence Order placed on me was comprehensively dismissed on April 26, but she has appealed the decision. Her grounds for appeal are, in full:

I am appealing because I contest the dismissal of an Apprehended Violence Order made in these proceedings.

The July 29 appearance is listed as a mention, which is usually just a five-minute process to set dates for submission of statements and a final hearing. I was not required to appear in any form for the seven (yes, seven!) mentions in the AVO proceedings but I have been ordered to appear this time. As the court house is about 800 kilometres from my home I have been given permission to attend by telephone. In my request for permission to be absent from the mention I set out some reasons why this appeal is baseless, so perhaps the order to have a real presence there means that more will happen than just everyone checking their diaries for a mutually satisfactory time for the next stage.

You can keep up with the excitement by following me on Twitter at @RatbagsDotCom or search for the hashtag #AVOmerde.


FFS! It's still going on! (3/8/2013)
The Great AVO Saga has been adjourned until September 18. This will be thirteen days after the anniversary of Meryl Dorey from the Australian Vaccination Network filing an application with the court to have an Apprehended Personal Violence Order placed on me to stop me talking about her child-endangering activities. Here is a letter I wrote to the Attorney-General of New South Wales, the man at the top of the legal pyramid in my state.

Attorney-General of New South Wales
Mr Greg Smith.

Dear Mr Smith,

As you must be aware, some of your ministerial colleagues have taken recent and ongoing interest in the activities of the Australian Vaccination Network.

I have a long interest myself in the AVN and applaud the actions of the NSW Government in trying to bring this dangerous organisation to heel, but there is an aspect of the AVN's activities that you might not be aware of and which is of direct concern to your Department.

Meryl Dorey, immediate past President of the AVN, has on many occasions declared her commitment to free speech, but over the last few months she has been taking action which looks suspiciously like an attempt to use the courts to silence critics.

In September last year Ms Dorey applied for Apprehended Personal Violence Orders against three of her critics. The applications contained the usual requests for orders to keep away from the applicant, but also contained the request for an order that "The defendant must not mention the applicant in any online forum in any derogatory manner". This is clearly outside the ambit of an AVO. Also, Ms Dorey lives and works in Bangalow on the north coast of NSW. The three defendants live in Guildford, Wentworth Falls and Perth, so are many hundreds of kilometres away from her.

One of the applications has been granted with the consent of the defendant, with the request for silence removed. He decided that he no longer wanted to continue the action as the granting of an AVO would have no effect on his life or actions.

The application against me was dismissed on April 26 this year, after seven mentions in the Local Court. Ms Dorey lodged an appeal against the dismissal on the last possible day, and a mention has been listed in the District Court at Lismore on July 29. A final hearing for the third application (against the man in Perth) was to have been held on May 24 this year, but again at the last possible moment Ms Dorey had the date vacated in order to request a change of magistrate. The next mention in that matter is set down for August 22, almost eleven months after an interim order was placed on him.

You can see a timeline of the action against me at http://www.ratbags.com/rsoles/history/2013/05may.htm#4avo (This was obviously written before the appeal was lodged, but as no interim order was ever placed on me I am free to comment.)

In summary, two applications for AVOs have been dragging on for nine months with no resolution in sight. The applicant was in no personal danger at any time from any of the defendants, all of whom live and work many hundreds of kilometres away from her. Her actions have delayed the process on several occasions (failing to appear for a mention and a mediation session, late request for change of magistrate, request to make a second submission of evidence, request for an extension of a non-existent interim order on me). I have no information about her grounds for appealing the decision in my favour, but she had three opportunities to present evidence (two submissions, plus the final hearing) so it is unlikely that she will be presenting anything new in the District Court.

I realise that you have a very limited capacity to direct the actions of judicial officers and the courts, but I feel you should be aware that the time and resources of the courts are being wasted by what is obviously a blatant attempt to abuse the legal process in order to stifle criticism of an organisation of which the government clearly disapproves.

Thank you.

And here is the reply I received:

Dear Mr Bowditch

Thank you for your email to the Attorney General, the Hon Greg Smith SC MP, about the Apprehended Personal Violence Order (APVO) applications made by Ms Meryl Dorey. The Attorney General has noted your correspondence and asked me to reply on his behalf.

I note your concerns that certain APVO applications are a waste of court's time and resources. However, I can advise that the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 (the Act) contains a number of different safeguards to ensure that only genuine applications are granted.

Section 53 of the Act provides that an authorised officer or registrar may refuse to begin processing an APVO matter if satisfied that the application is frivolous, vexatious, without substance or has no reasonable prospect of success, or if the application could be dealt with more appropriately by mediation or other alternative dispute resolution mechanism.

Section 19 of the Act provides that a court must be satisfied on the balance of probabilities that a person has reasonable grounds to fear and in fact fears either 1) the commission of a personal violence offence against the person, or 2) conduct in which the other person intimidates the person or stalks the person, and that conduct is sufficient in the opinion of the court to warrant the making of the order.

Section 20 of the Act sets out the matters the court must take into consideration when making a decision. These include any hardship that may be caused by making or not making the order, and the accommodation needs of all relevant parties.

Under section 99 of the Act, a court may award costs to the defendant, against an APVO applicant. This provides a further safeguard against vexatious or frivolous applications. However, a court is not to award costs against a police officer who makes an application unless satisfied that the police officer made the application knowing it contained matter that was false or misleading in a material particular.

It is also important to note the Act provides that a defendant may, at any time, make an application to a court for the variation or revocation of a final AVO or an interim court order.

Having said that, I advise that the Department of Attorney General and Justice is currently completing a statutory review of the Act. The review is considering whether the policy objectives of the Act remain valid and whether the terms of the Act remain appropriate for securing those objectives. Various issues regarding APVOs including options to address concerns regarding frivolous and vexatious applications are being considered in the review. It is anticipated that the reforms arising from the review are likely to be extensive.

I hope this information resolves some of the concerns you have raised about APVOs.

Yours faithfully

for Director Community Relations Unit
NSW Department of Attorney General & Justice

In 2012 the AVN "won" a case against the Health Care Complaints Commission in the NSW Supreme Court due to  the relevant legislation being out of date (it was written in 1993 and the Internet had bypassed it). The discrepancy has now been fixed by Parliament, and sane people are now thankful that quacks and charlatans can be chased effectively. Homeopaths, sellers of quack cancer cures and other people practising pretend medicine should be appropriately grateful to Ms Dorey for exposing them to the force of the law. It looks like Ms Dorey's latest efforts in the courts might contribute to further legislative amendments, this time limiting the ability of kooks and dingbats to waste the court's time with "frivolous and vexatious applications" for orders outside the spirit of the law.


It's jihad time! (17/8/2013)
In 2000 I was accused of terrorism in a ludicrous lawsuit brought by the late and very much unlamented cancer quack, Hulda Clark. It seems that some memes never die, and the following was posted to Facebook this week by Meryl Dorey, past president of the Australian Vaccination Network and another person who thinks that wasting my time in court proceedings is a sensible thing to do.

Another thing that never gets old is the Pharma Shill Gambit. Here is Ms Dorey accusing me of financial corruption in 1999. (There was specific legislation then called the Secret Commissions Act, but the crime has now been covered by other laws.)

To: <AVN@onelist.com>
Date: Mon, 16 Aug 1999 05:53:46 +1000
From: "Meryl Dorey"
Subject: RE: Anti-vaccination Liars webpage

You're right Heidi (and I love the name of the page - vaxquax :-) Not only that, but he has given me the links to a lot of pro-choice sites that are missing on the AVN web site so he's done my research for me. I am very proud that the AVN site is at the top - we must be doing something right (of course, it's alphabetical too ;-).

Thanks for pointing this site out Jan - I don't really think there is much point in corresponding with the person who has done this - they are one somebody's payroll (or payrolls) - but we are in very good company and like Heidi says - anyone who goes to this page will get some great resources to choose from for information.

Take care,
Meryl

Also, Ms Dorey - you probably mean "jihad", not "fatwa". We don't have spiritual leaders who can call down curses on people. And if you are comparing yourself to Salman Rushdie, well, I'm going to have to respond to your hubris in Arabic - أعطي نفسك حديد صدئة العلاج. When you have to hide out from death threats for a few years you might be entitled to talk about fatwa.


AVO update (24/8/2013)
No, not the ongoing saga of the attempt to abuse the legal system in order to silence me, but a related case. You might remember that when Meryl Dorey from the Australian Vaccination Network (she was the President at the time) applied for an Apprehended Personal Violence Order against me she also applied for orders against two other people. Of the three cases, one was finalised when the defendant accepted the order (he did this without conceding or admitting to anything - he simply couldn't be bothered with the continual court appearances), the application against me was dismissed on April 26 (with that decision going to appeal on September 18), and the third application was dismissed on August 22, with Ms Dorey being ordered to pay $11,000 towards the defendant's legal costs.

What made this a more delicious irony is that Ms Dorey was offered the chance to withdraw her application a few days before and to pay a small amount of Mr Buzzard's legal bill. She countered with a suggestion that she would withdraw with each side bearing its own costs provided that Mr Buzzard promised to do even more than was demanded in her original application. This was obviously rejected, and she ended up being ordered to pay about four times as much.

I assume she will appeal the decision in order to drag the process out further, but the deadline for lodging an appeal is the day after the appeal hearing is scheduled in my case. That will be an anxious week for Ms Dorey.

You can see Mr Buzzard's narrative of his adventures here.


Speaking to Parliament? Oh, really? (24/8/2013)
Purely coincidentally I'm sure, Meryl Dorey of the Australian Vaccination Network posted this appeal for funds to Facebook the day after she was hit with a big legal bill for the case she lost the day before.

What caught my eye, however, was the statement "Last week, our President addressed the QLD Parliament". As the Qld Parliament was not sitting in the week referred to, I wondered if this was another case of speaking "at" Parliament, not "to", as was once done by ex-Dr Andrew Wakefield. And I was right. Greg Beattie was speaking to a hearing of the Health and Community Services Committee. You can see the agenda at the right of the page.

Speaking to a committee of Parliament is not the same as addressing Parliament, but since when have we ever expected the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth from the AVN?

The submission contained the usual lies and half-truths we have come to expect from the AVN, including the claims that polio has been renamed, smallpox went away all by itself and vaccines don't save lives. It also included the famous graphs that Mr Beattie seems to think should be produced on every possible occasion. (The graphs were apparently going to be offered as evidence in the appeal over whether the AVN should change its deceptive name, although what relevance they could have there is a mystery.)

You can read Mr Beattie's amusing submission here. If you print it out you could put it in the bathroom in case you run out of toilet paper.


Let's spit on the memory of a great man (24/8/2013)
While people are remembering and celebrating the anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Had A Dream" speech, a committee member of the Australian Vaccination Network chose to vomit on his memory by comparing this pack of outrageous child-harmers to him, among others. What sort of hubris does it take to write something like this?

My brother reminded me that we can take heart from all those in history who have been mercilessly persecuted and never gave up; Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X, Mahatma Ghandi. Their principles and values burned within their hearts and gave them the strength to stand against overwhelming odds, and those same principles burn within you, the AVN and your supporters.

It actually goes beyond hubris, almost to the point of self-centred insanity. The person who wrote it, Tasha David, has a history of being loose with the truth, and you can see her (anonymously) inventing stories about me here. Her latest tirade can be seen here.

The picture at right (click for a larger view) is "The Mourning Of Icarus" by Draper Herbert James. Icarus suffered from hubris, but the difference between him and this vile organisation is that nobody will mourn the death of the AVN. It will be a cause for celebration.


Meryl Dorey's commitment to free speech (7/9/2013)
I turned on Facebook on September 6 to find that I was not automatically logged in. I had been logged out of the system for committing a grievous crime against "community standards". When I entered my username and password the following appeared.

When I hit "Continue" I got this:

Meryl Dorey from the Australian Vaccination Network had been on a rampage over the previous couple of days, submitting whines to Facebook every time someone mentioned her name. The fact that she chose the anniversary of her ridiculous attempt to use the courts to silence me to yet again try to stop me from talking shows that she completely lacks any form of irony gene.

Ms Dorey’s attempt to silence me through the courts was dismissed on April 26, but she has appealed that decision. The appeal will be heard on September 18, and I intend to publish something about Ms Dorey’s war on children’s health on my blog every day between now and then.

Here are the first three episodes:


Counting down!! (14/9/2013)
There's not much happening here this week because I'm getting everything together for the court appearance on Wednesday. For those who are new here, forgetful or out of the loop, this is the appeal lodged by Meryl Dorey of the Australian Vaccination Network against the dismissal of her ridiculous attempt to have an Apprehended Violence Order placed on me. (People in other parts of the world might call these things "restraining orders".) You can see the history of the action here.

She chose the anniversary of the application (yes, it has been going on for more than a year) to whine to Facebook and get me suspended from posting, so from that that date until the court date I have been republishing a daily selection of articles about the AVN and her on my blog.

Here are the episodes so far:


The following release went out to journalists and media outlets on September 16, 2013.

Meryl Dorey and the AVN - Another loss in court

Meryl Dorey from the Australian Vaccination Network has failed in another of her attempts to use Apprehended Violence Orders to silence her critics.

In September 2012, Ms Dorey applied for three Apprehended Personal Violence Orders against people who had been critical of her anti-vaccination activities. One of the applications was settled with the consent of the defendant, who just wanted it to go away. The second was dismissed on August 22, with Ms Dorey ordered to pay significant costs to the defendant.

The third application, against Peter Bowditch, was dismissed in Lismore Local Court on April 26 this year, after no fewer than seven mentions in Ballina and Lismore Courts. Ms Dorey appealed to the District Court to have that decision overturned.

The appeal was withdrawn today in Lismore District Court, fifty-four weeks after the initial application was lodged and two days before the hearing was scheduled. This means that Ms Dorey has effectively delayed a resolution of this matter for almost four additional months. The withdrawal will be ratified when the Court sits on Wednesday, September 18.

From the start Ms Dorey had been misusing the AVO process to try to achieve something for which it was not intended. AVOs are to protect people from violence, not to prevent people from speaking. The hypocrisy of her position is obvious when you consider her frequent claims to be a suppressed champion of free speech. To her, speech should be free provided that she is doing the speaking, but she wants to deny that freedom to others.

A timeline for the matter plus copies of the parties' submissions to the Court can be found at http://www.ratbags.com/rsoles/history/2013/05may.htm#4avo


It's all over. Or is it? (21/9/2013)
I received the following from Lismore District Court this week.

Amid all the congratulations a message rolled in from Ms Dorey's great friend Tim Bolen, spokespustule for cancer quacks, insurance fraudsters and dentists who sexually molest patients.

poor peter:

I'd say, off hand, that she made a decision to to not further pursue you because someone told her that you just weren't important enough in the scheme of things.

Tim seems to think that prefacing every message to me with "poor peter" is either some form of funny joke or is an attempt to annoy and embarrass me. Wrong on all counts. What a sad man.


I'm in the paper! (21/9/2013)
A nice article in the Sunday Telegraph.


Meryl Dorey speaks at a rally. Picture: Glenn Barnes Source: News Limited

Anti-vaccination lobbyist Meryl Dorey drops AVO appeal
Jane Hansen
September 21, 2013

THE head of a controversial anti-vaccination group has again failed to silence her critics by using Apprehended Violence Orders.

Meryl Dorey, of the Australian Vaccination Network, has withdrawn her appeal to a court decision that threw an AVO out against Peter Bowditch.

It comes after her court loss last month against Stop the Australian Vaccination Network (SAVN) campaigner Dan Buzzard. Ms Dorey wanted the men banned from making online comments in "any derogatory manner".

"From the start, Ms Dorey had been misusing the AVO process to try to achieve something for which it was not intended," said Mr Bowditch, who is also a SAVN member.

Ms Dorey wrote on her blog about dropping her appeal: "If by silencing my opposition, SAVN and the Australian Skeptics mean that I wanted to stop them threatening, harassing and stalking me as they have done for so long and prevent them from inciting others to do the same, then I admit that's what I was trying to do."

You can read the original here.


And the backlash! (21/9/2013)
It didn't take long. On September 21 Meryl Dorey published a blog post with the rather ironic title of "Silencing the opposition", in which she defended her actions to try to silence her opposition. She also had a lot of things to say about bias in the courtroom. It's a bit long for the front page, but you can read an annotated version of what she wrote here.

As she had so much to say about corrupt magistrates, I thought the state Attorney General should be informed of her concerns. Here is my email to him.

Attorney-General of New South Wales
Mr Greg Smith

Dear Mr Smith,

I emailed you in June about the way that Meryl Dorey, past president of the Australian Vaccination Network, had been abusing the AVO process in order to silence some of her critics. (Thank you for the informative reply from your office.) At almost the last minute, last week she withdrew an appeal against the dismissal of her AVO application against me. Her appeal added almost four months to the time taken to resolve this matter, with the final dismissal of the appeal occurring almost fifty-four weeks after the original application was lodged.

Ms Dorey has now published comments about the case (and her two other applications) in which she explicitly accuses the judicial officers involved of bias. Here are some quotes from the article:

"I believe it is my involvement with the AVN which has influenced the courts against me, causing them to be decided on the personal preconceived opinions of the magistrates involved, rather than on the merits and the evidence presented."

"I still believed it was possible to get justice from the courts, and that magistrates would pass judgment without allowing their personal preconceived biases to interfere. I was a babe in the woods in that regard."

"It is my firmly held belief, based on the evidence from both cases that actually went to trial, that my losses had nothing to do with the evidence presented to the courts. Based on that evidence alone - APVOs should have been granted without question. But both magistrates showed a strong disapproval for the work that I have done for the last 20 years with the AVN and I feel that they were unable to separate Meryl Dorey the mother, woman and victim of institutionalised and long-running abuse, from Meryl Dorey, ex-President of the AVN and vaccine rights advocate."

I should like to point out that in the hearing of the case against me, Magistrate Denes said "I make it very clear again. This case is not about vaccination, pro or otherwise. This case is not about the AVN, this case is not about someone's ability to challenge that online". She then went on to discuss how the evidence presented should and would be evaluated strictly in accordance with its relevance under the legislation covering AVOs.

You can see Ms Dorey's comments at http://nocompulsoryvaccination.com/2013/09/21/silencing-the-opposition/

I'm not sure what, if anything, can be done to stop Ms Dorey defaming judicial officers and impugning the integrity of the court system, but I feel you need to at least be aware of what she is saying.

Thank you.

(A copy of this email has been forwarded to the Shadow Attorney General and the Registry at Lismore Courthouse.)

While I was in a writing mood, I thought I should advise Getty Images that the blog post featured one of their copyrighted images, one that has to be paid for.

A copyrighted Getty image appears on the web page at http://nocompulsoryvaccination.com/2013/09/21/silencing-the-opposition/ with no acknowledgment of the source.

As the page is defaming both me and certain legal officers I would not be surprised to find that the author showed the same disregard for intellectual property as she does for defamation and contempt laws and simply "borrowed" the picture without bothering to ascertain ownership and publication rights.

Thank you.

I like to make sure people are informed. And I'm sure Ms Dorey agrees with me that freedom of speech is all about keeping people informed of things.


Let's help the people in the Philippines (16/11/2013)
It should have been impossible to watch news broadcasts in the last week without seeing scenes of horror from the Philippines as a result of the hurricane which destroyed everything in its path, including tens of thousands of people. Before you read any further you need to go to these places and donate some money.

   

A doctor friend of mine volunteered to help and at the time of writing is waiting for the call to get in the C130 to be flown into the disaster area. She quite reasonably announced this to her Facebook friends. She just happens to be an active member of the Stop the AVN Facebook group, so the response on the Australian Vaccination Network's page was predictable. The actual form of words wasn't though.

So people who volunteer to give up their time and income to help others are "pathological narcissists" for letting their friends know why they might be invisible for a while. That's just about the level of compassion we have come to expect from anti-vaccination liars. Note that those comments are still there on the AVN's page, so obviously the page administrators agree with the sentiments.

I have decided that this calls for a Kind and Gentle email to Meryl Dorey, immediate past President of the AVN. I won't email it to her because she blocks all emails from me but somehow manages to receive them to use in court.

Dear Meryl (I hope I can call you that after our long dance in the courts),

When hurricanes devastated Banda Aceh in 2004 and Haiti in 2010 you put out calls to your followers to get them to avoid giving donations to aid organisations that promote vaccination, and in the latter case even opposed groups that used drugs. I was wondering what advice you would be giving to AVN supporters following the hurricane in the Philippines that has killed at least 10,000 people. Are you still going to ask that no money goes to organisations that might accidentally vaccinate people? I notice on the AVN's Facebook page that people are lying robustly about an upcoming trial of a cholera vaccine so I assume you aren't concerned that this disease might be a problem in the storm affected areas. Are you still opposed to the use of drugs in the treatment of hurricane victims and do these drugs you don't want administered include the anaesthetics needed for emergency surgery, painkillers such as morphine, antibiotics and antiseptics? Is the AVN organising a supply of natural alternatives to these to be flown to the worst affected areas, you know, the places where pathological narcissists might be running field hospitals and treating broken people?

What, if anything, is the AVN doing? When will the relief teams from Chiropracteurs Sans Frontières be leaving?

On another matter, I see that people are lying again about Dr Offit and the 10,000 vaccines. You know as well as I do what he really said, but as Mark Twain once said "A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes", a philosophy strongly supported by anti-vaccination liars everywhere. I saw this comment from you on Facebook:

I don't know if you are aware, but an AVN supporter recently challenged me to take all the vaccines in the up-to-5-years schedule for children on one day. As always, I accepted the challenge as I have done many times before, but also as always he ran away when asked to back himself up. I'm still ready to roll up my sleeve at the Australian Skeptics convention and get all those vaccines so I wonder if you would like to volunteer to administer them. It will be easier for you to go to Canberra than Philadelphia and it will only be 15, 30 or 52 vaccines (depending on who is lying at the time) rather than the 10,000 that you want to give to Dr Offit. Do we have a date? 12:35pm, Saturday November 23 at the CSIRO Discovery Centre. I'll be there. Will you?

You friend in litigation,
Peter


Going, going, maybe gone. (25/11/2013)
On Monday November 25 the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal handed down its decision on the Australian Vaccination Network's appeal against an order that they change their deceptive name. You can read the whole thing here, but here is the important part:

The decision of the Director General, Department of Finance and Services to direct Australian Vaccination Network Inc to adopt a new name is affirmed.

The trigger for starting this site in 1999 was that I found that this organisation committed to the deaths of children had adopted the innocuous name to hide its true intent. It took a long time, but finally they might have to do something very difficult for them - tell just a little truth. Surely that can't be too hard, even for a group of professional liars.


Speaking of the AVN ... (21/12/2013)
As part of the continued and welcome collapse of the AVN they stopped producing their magazine, Living Wisdom. Actually, they had stopped long before the final announcement but eventually had to face the reality that people had paid for magazine subscriptions and probably expected to get something for their money. It was announced that subscriptions to other magazines would be substituted so that everyone got their money's worth. It seems that this promise had as much truth in it as anything else emanating from the organisation, and as far as I know nothing ever turned up. Finally someone asked and they were told that the substitute would be the magazine shown below. As it contains an obvious and blatant lie on the cover (a lie expressed as a question) it fits in well with AVN philosophy, which is to tell as little truth as possible and then only in a whisper. I hope to see a copy of the rag, because I like to check these things to see if the pages are numbered consecutively, usually the only facts to be found there.


Liars gonna lie (21/12/2013)
I turned on Facebook this morning to find that I had been logged out. This is usually a sign of unpleasantness to come, and I was not disappointed.

The "Karen" referred to is a fake profile, and the conversation happened some weeks ago. Unfortunately, Facebook simply takes the word of liars, although you usually have to say a person's full name before this nonsense swings into effect. Within a short period of time several other people received temporary bans for responding to "Karen". Note that it is considered good manners to mention someone's name when responding. Here are some of the things that can get you banned by Facebook for replying to a sock puppet.

Now, if you think that's enough hypocrisy for today, with an anonymous sock puppet complaining about totally innocuous comments, consider this.

Last weekend this image was posted to a Facebook page named "Stop the Australian Vaccination Propaganda". It was posted by an anonymous liar calling itself "Doreen Darling", who almost immediately disappeared again from Facebook. A second anonymous liar calling itself "Sandra Sanderson" chimed in, accusing me of being a drunk. If they thought they would embarrass me they were wrong.

I rather like the picture of me, but a search of the Internet using Google's image search tools didn't turn up any match, so I asked where it came from. Here is "Doreen's" reply.

Let's get some facts. I finally found where it came from - it is a still from the television show Today Tonight that was broadcast on June 14, 2013. It is not "in the public domain" because the copyright belongs to Channel 7. There was no "source of this picture on the world wide web". "Doreen" was lying. (You can see the show here.) But that's what liars do.

Now do you see what I mean about hypocrisy? Supporters of the Australian Vaccination Network see no problem in using false names to write stuff about me which they fully intend to be defamatory, but run to mummy and cry when anyone does anything that they don't like. They lie to Facebook by submitting fraudulent claims of non-existent breaches in "community standards". They are vile, disgusting things that you would not want to tread on or you would have to throw your shoes away.

"Karen Little", "Doreen Darling", "Sandra Sanderson" and any other of the cast of characters invented to attack those who don't like people who want to see more dead children, please find a hot fire and die in it. But before you do, please answer the question in the image. Sane people want to know your motivation for your hatred of children.

Oh, and at least two people complained to Facebook about the picture of me before telling me that it existed. In neither case did Facebook take any action. Politely replying to a post and addressing the original poster by name violates community standards; stealing photographs and abusing people anonymously is perfectly allowable.


AVN goes on a hypocrisy campaign (4/1/2014)
There is obviously an outbreak of desperation at the soon-to-be-renamed Australian Vaccination Network. Perhaps they should be concentrating on finding an acceptable name that represents the true objectives of the organisation.

I mentioned before Christmas that I had been banned from Facebook for twelve hours because some anonymous, lying coward had complained about a completely innocuous post I had made in response to an anonymous poster. Over the next few days I was banned five more times, and many other people were also subject to Facebook's broken and capricious complaints system. One person was prevented from contacting friends and relatives about arrangements for her father's funeral, but as anti-vaccination liars are in favour of death they probably wouldn't have seen this as any sort of problem. Meryl Dorey has denied all knowledge of this campaign, despite using exactly the same tactic herself back in September last year, but this came as no surprise as we have become accustomed to both her commitment to free speech (which includes taking court action to silence critics) and her respect for the truth.

I was banned a seventh time as collateral damage when a post by an administrator of the Stop The AVN group was whined about, resulting in a ban for all administrators of the group. At least this was better than the situation in 2012 when a complaint was made that an admin was doing something dreadful and all the administrators were threatened with permanent bans. On that occasion I had to identify myself to Facebook to be allowed back in, but some people were banned for days or weeks and a few had their Facebook accounts closed down completely.

Here are the horrible things I said that caused me to offend against Facebook's "community standards":

My sister's seizure was caused by measles. All of her children are fully vaccinated.

This is a reference to this person claiming a degree she doesn't have.

As you can see, the phrase "community standards" appears to have no real meaning at Facebook.

They other example of AVN hypocrisy I mentioned a few weeks back was the publication of a picture of me on a Facebook page named "Stop the Australian Vaccination Propaganda". It showed me asking a question, so I posted it on the page myself with a request that someone answer the question. Then the fun started. Anonymous people commented on my weight, my complexion, my drinking habits and other things of which they know nothing. Insulting me was perfectly acceptable behaviour, and you need to remember that there was a simultaneous campaign to complain about mentions of people's names. Unfortunately, the page has now either been removed or hidden in some way so I can't show examples of what was said. It seems strange that the anonymous posters should feel so ashamed of what they said that they needed to hide it, particularly as it is difficult to imaging anti-vaccination liars having any sense of shame at all.

Before the page disappeared, however, something really amusing happened. Remember that I had posted back to the page an image that had been originally put there by the page owner. Then this:

That's right. The clown reported a picture that they had themselves posted. Reported for "nudity or pornography"! Stupidity like this needs recognition and reward. If stupidity were to be declared an Olympic sport this would be gold medal material.

And what was the decision from Facebook?

It looks like there is at least a smidgeon of sanity in their complaints system. We can only hope it eventually spreads to anonymous complaints about using people's names when replying to them.


Changing that name (25/1/2014)
Now that the holiday season is over and all the public servants are about to return to their desks to start the cogs of officialdom and bureaucracy turning again it's probably a good time to revisit this media release issued by the NSW Office of Fair Trading in November last year. It's been two months and the Australian Vaccination Network has not yet announced any new, truthful name, but there has been a fire sale of office furniture so maybe the plan is to simply disappear. Which would be nice.

Australian Vaccination Network ordered to change its name

25 November 2013

Minister for Fair Trading Anthony Roberts today welcomed a decision by the Administrative Decisions Tribunal (ADT) to order the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) to change its name on the grounds it is misleading.

The ADT has upheld NSW Fair Trading’s direction to the AVN to change its name.

Mr Roberts said Fair Trading had acted in the public interest by requesting the AVN change its name, based on claims the name is unacceptable under the Associations Incorporation Act 2009.

"Fair Trading acted in this matter after receiving numerous complaints, including from the Australian Medical Association, that the AVN name was misleading given its overwhelming focus on the publication of anti-vaccination messages and information," Mr Roberts said.

"The time has come for AVN to find a name which reflects its anti-vaccination stance.

"This is about being open and upfront about what you stand for, not hiding behind a name which could mislead the community about a very significant public health issue."

On 21 December 2012, the Associations Incorporation Amendment (Unacceptable Names) Regulation 2012 commenced. The amendment expanded the classifications of unacceptable names to include a name likely to mislead the public in relation to the nature, objects or functions of an association.

In January, Fair Trading issued a direction to the AVN to change its name on the basis it was undesirable because it had the potential to mislead the public.

On 8 February 2013, the Association sought an internal review of that decision. The internal review was completed on 19 February, affirming the original decision.

The Association then lodged an appeal in the ADT.

At the first hearing on 22 March 2013, Judge O’Connor, President of the Tribunal, placed conditions on the organisation, including that a prominent consumer warning be published on the AVN website and its Facebook page by 26 March 2013.

The warning stated Fair Trading had directed AVN to change its name because it regarded the name to be misleading and that the direction was being challenged before the Tribunal.

AVN has 28 days to lodge an appeal against today’s decision.

Mr Roberts said Fair Trading reserves the right to pursue costs associated with any ongoing legal action undertaken by AVN.

What is known is that the AVN have been trying to register names which are similar to "Australian Vaccination Sceptics (or Skeptics) Network". Any attempt to use one of these names will be strongly challenged by groups such as Australian Skeptics Inc and people who care about the truth. They have been ordered to change the deceptive name, and changing it to something which is possibly even more deceptive should not be allowed. I realise that the AVN don't see what they are attempting to do as anything wrong, but truth and morality are concepts that they simply don't understand.


The new name. At last. (15/3/2014)
It's official. The Australian Vaccination Network now has a new, officially approved and registered business name. After a year-and-a-half of whining about being forced to change from the deceptive name they have announced that henceforth they will be known as the Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network. They have also announced that this is no big deal, which raises the question of why they didn't just do it when first asked to instead of wasting the time and money of the courts, court officials, lawyers and AVN members to fight it. But then, common sense and rational action have never been too evident where the AVN is concerned, so behaving idiotically is just standard operating procedure.  It has also been announced that the AVN has relinquished its charity licence (the current one was due to expire in April anyway).

The new name isn't as worrying to real skeptics as you might think. Because the word has been hijacked by fringe groups like climate change deniers, the public is already sensitised to treating the word with suspicion. I know that Australian Skeptics often get asked if the name means that we deny climate change and any anthropomorphic effect on climate (maybe we have to change our name!) but at least we can respond by pointing to science. Anti-vaccination liars can't, so the name might backfire on them. And I can assure you that this will be highly publicised by those of us who are committed to the total destruction of this vile and dangerous organisation. "Stop the AVN" just needs another letter in its name and the fight against unreason will continue.


Bitstrip has something to say about the news.

Benjamin Rush - click for a larger viewIn another change, the AVN's Facebook page will no longer be run by Meryl Dorey or anyone officially connected to the organisation but will be administered (and presumably censored as is traditional) by an anonymous person who does not live in Australia. In a case of the supreme ignorance of irony shown by clowns like anti-vaccination liars, this anonymous moderator has taken the name Benjamin Rush, someone who not only signed the US Declaration of Independence but was one of those hated doctors who supported vaccination and even had a hand in establishing the specialty of psychiatry, a field of medicine despised by quacks everywhere. (The AVN has sold Scientology anti-psychiatry materials from its web site for a long time.)

To add to the woes of the AVN and the joy of sane people, the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission has ordered the AVN to remove all erroneous misinformation from its web site. As this will leave nothing much except a single page with a logo on it, the order is being strongly resisted. I'll write about the hilarious response from the AVN next week because there's a lot to go through, but to give you an idea of the flavour AVN President pro-tem Greg Beattie ordered the HCCC to reply to him in a manner satisfactory to him within seven days. Observers have commented that this is not the way to get bureaucracies to treat you kindly. It's a laugh a minute.


Good news about vaccination 1 (5/4/2014)
Almost the best best news you can hear about vaccination, almost as good as hearing that a disease has been wiped out (Australia was officially declared free of measles by the WHO on March 20, 2014 - all cases in the last three years have been traceable to someone entering the country from elsewhere) is the decline of an anti-vaccination liar organisation. The death throes of the formerly-named Australian Vaccination Network are running on nicely. As well as the forced name change they are no longer a charity. It was originally thought that they had simply decided not to renew the licence (it was due to expire in April 2014 anyway) but the truth is that the status was surrendered at the request (order?) of the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming & Racing.

In a wonderful show of rewriting history, AVN spokesfolk have been claiming that they never wanted the charity status in the first place, they never used it, that they only got it by accident when they absorbed another organisation back in the day, that they had tied to cancel it but couldn't, it was a "millstone" they were glad to be rid of, ... Unfortunately these claims seem to be in conflict with their action when the licence was temporarily suspended in 2010 (they fought it in court), the gleeful announcements when it was restored (due to a technicality in a 1993 piece of legislation), and the statement made many times on the AVN web site and in blogs and emails that they were a charity.

For example, in 2009 I noticed this on the AVN web site:

I also noticed that their charity licence had expired and informed OLG&R. Ms Dorey offered this action of mine to a Court as evidence of harassment. From at least 2007 the AVN's web site claimed on the "Donations" page that it was "a volunteer run charity organisation". It even said what charitable works the donations would be spent on (including one place that had never heard of the AVN and wouldn't have anything to do with them anyway)

Now for the investigations into where the money went when they were a charity. I can hardly wait.

Here is the media release by the Minister.

Tuesday 18 March, 2014

AUSTRALIAN VACCINATION NETWORK (AVN) NO LONGER A LICENSED CHARITY

Minister for Hospitality George Souris today warned the public not to make charitable donations to the Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network Incorporated (AVSNI), formerly known as the Australian Vaccination Network Incorporated (AVN), as it is no longer a registered charity.

Mr Souris said the association had surrendered its 'Authority to Fundraise' under the Charitable Fundraising Act following an investigation into its anti-vaccination activities by the Office of Liquor, Gaming & Racing (OLGR).

"OLGR issued a 'show cause' notice to the association requiring it to respond in writing on why its Authority to Fundraise should not be revoked," Mr Souris said.

"As a result, the association has now surrendered its Authority to Fundraise to OLGR effective immediately".

Under the Charitable Fundraising Act, if an organisation intends to fundraise for a charitable purpose it must be the holder of an Authority to Fundraise.

However, an Authority to Fundraise for a charitable purpose can be revoked if determined to be in the public interest. One of the objects of the Charitable Fundraising Act is to prevent deception of members of the public who desire to support worthy causes.

"OLGR's investigation sourced expert medical evidence challenging the accuracy of information provided on the association's website in relation to the risks and benefits of vaccination," Mr Souris said.

"The investigation highlighted a range of potential concerns, including risks arising from the association’s anti-vaccination advocacy and the potential for misinformation to influence important health decisions resulting in potentially adverse public health consequences.

"As the Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network Incorporated does not hold an Authority to Fundraise from OLGR they can no longer fundraise for a charitable purpose".

Minister for Fair Trading, Stuart Ayres, said the association recently changed its name, to the Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network Incorporated, following a direction from Fair Trading and an Administrative Decisions Tribunal decision requiring it to adopt a name accurately reflecting its scepticism about vaccinations.

"I warn members of the public against making donations to this organisation.

"NSW Government agencies will continue to monitor the organisation’s activities to ensure it does not fundraise for a charitable purpose."

Minister for Health Jillian Skinner said she is very proud of the NSW Liberal & Nationals Government’s commitment to childhood vaccination.

"On January 1 this year, new legislation came into effect to ensure no child can be enrolled at a child care facility unless the parent/guardian provides an official immunisation record which shows the child is fully immunised or has been granted an exemption after the parents/guardian have met with a GP or nurse immuniser.

"Our Government is determined to protect our children from the devastating consequences of vaccine-preventable disease.

"While NSW has a very high rate of vaccination among children, we will continue to do all we can to protect those children who remain unvaccinated.

"Forget the scaremongering - there is nothing to fear from vaccination," Ms Skinner said


Good news about vaccination 2 (5/4/2014)
The other bit of good news about the AVN is that the Health Care Complaints Commission has told them to clean up their web site. Also, HCCC has issued a draft of a Public Warning (nobody from AV-SN can complain about me reproducing it here because I downloaded it when they published it on their Facebook page). Objections to the idea of a public warning have of course been lodged, but as these objections took the form of issuing ultimatums to the HCCC and were expressed in several chapters, each with a volume of text approaching that of a later Robert Ludlum novel, I will leave discussion of them for later.

Here's what the Public Warning is likely to say. (The whole thing is a bit long to reproduce here, so I've only included the final warning. You can read the full statement here.

Warning

The Commission considers that AVN's dissemination of misleading, misrepresented and incorrect information about vaccination engenders fear and alarm and is likely to detrimentally affect the clinical management or care of its readers. As seen through the examples provided above, AVN does not provide reliable information to enable its readers to make proper and informed decisions about vaccination.

Given the issues identified with the information disseminated by AVN, the Commission urges caution is exercised when using AVN's website or Facebook page to research vaccination.

The Commission has recommended that AVN amend its published information with regard to the above issues and the Commission will monitor the implementation of these recommendations.


The last word. I hope. (19/4/2014)
The latest edition of Australasian Science is now in newsagents and letterboxes and contains what I hope is the last thing I have to write there about the recently-but-still-deceptively-named Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network.

As I do almost every month, I urge you to subscribe to this excellent popular science magazine. I believe it's the best of its kind in the country (and not just because I write for it) and it is rare to see an article that can't be easily understood by a literate non-scientist.

Australasian ScienceThe AVN circles the drain

March 2014 was a very good month for supporters of vaccination as the Australian Vaccination Network, Australia’s most visible and virulent critic of vaccines, ran out of any sympathy the organisation had from public health and regulatory authorities.

The AVN was founded in the 1990s by Meryl Dorey, who was President and public face for most of that time. Until 2009, they had almost unrestricted access to the media and Ms Dorey was often there to provide "balance" when any media outlet ran a story about vaccines. She has always claimed that the AVN was not opposed to vaccination but was simply a source of information that was hidden or suppressed.

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