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The 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.
The 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:
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
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.
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.
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,
They're changing the guard at Fu..., well some palace (2/2/2013)
It's official. The Australian Vaccination Network has a new President. Click on the picture to see the media release in glorious colour.
Greg Beattie, Author and Researcher, Takes Post as AVN President
Greg Beattie, longtime vaccine researcher and author of two books, the latest of which guides readers through an in-depth analysis of the benefits of vaccination with a focus on Australia, has stepped in to fill the role of President of the Australian Vaccination Network, Inc. (AVN). This position was recently vacated by Meryl Dorey, who resigned effective January 1, 2013.
Ms Dorey is a founding member of the national health watchdog and support group, established almost 19 years ago in 1994. The AVN has over 2,000 members both within Australia and internationally and has been active in both supporting the right to free and informed health choice and opposing medical discrimination.
"There are several very important projects which have been neglected due to the pressures of running this organisation", said Ms Dorey. "A sabbatical will enable me to do this work while knowing that the AVN is in the best of hands with Greg Beattie and our Management Committee in charge."
Mr Beattie is the father of 7 children and first rose to prominence during his appeal against the Maroochy Shire Council whose discriminatory policy excluded his healthy unvaccinated children from council-run childcare centres.
His account of that process, including an in-depth analysis of Australian Government data demonstrating that vaccination had little to do with the decline in deaths from infectious diseases over the last century, quickly became the 'go-to' book on this issue. Called, Vaccination: A Parent's Dilemma, it was Greg's first publication on the subject. His second volume, Fooling Ourselves on the Fundamental Value of Vaccines, expands on and updates earlier research, again using Australian data on mortality and morbidity from infectious diseases.
"The future for this organisation is very exciting", Ms Dorey continued. "Strong-arm tactics by the Australian Government and medical community have virtually guaranteed that more and more parents will be asking questions about the safety and effectiveness of vaccination. The demand for our services has never been greater and with the help of our new President, we will continue to provide both information and support to Australian families into the foreseeable future.
You can read the result of Mr Beattie's famous appeal against Maroochy Shire Council here. I will quote the last two paragraphs here:
52. Their evidence has positively persuaded me to the view that the decision of the Council to exclude the children from the child care centre is one which is reasonably necessary to protect public health.
53. It follows the complaint has not been substantiated, and is therefore dismissed.
A famous victory indeed. His "victory" was given special mention in a report, "Childhood Immunisation: The Legal Dimensions", produced by the NSW Parliamentary Library research department.
In other AVN news ... (2/2/2013)
In December last year I mentioned that the Australian Vaccination Network had been ordered to change its name by the authority overseeing business name registration in New South Wales. At the time I only had press reports but the Office of Fair Trading eventually put the media release on its web site.
Australian Vaccination Network ordered to change its name
15 December 2012
Minister for Fair Trading Anthony Roberts today confirmed a formal order has been issued to the Australian Vaccination Network to change its name on the grounds it is misleading the public.
Mr Roberts said Section 11 of the Associations Incorporation Act 2009 provides the Commissioner for Fair Trading may direct an association to adopt a new name, where the name of the association is unacceptable.
“NSW Fair Trading has received complaints that the Australian Vaccination Network’s name is confusing and has misled the public as to its operational intention,” Mr Roberts said.
“The Commissioner for Fair Trading, Rod Stowe, has therefore written to the Australian Vaccination Network, directing the association to change its name.”
The Australian Vaccination Network is required to lodge an application for registration of a new name by 21 February, 2013.
If an application for registration of a change of name is not made on or before that date, Australian Vaccination Network Incorporated’s registration may be cancelled.
Mr Roberts said the Australian Vaccination Network’s name cannot be tolerated given its stance on vaccination and the potential for parents to be confused or misled.
“The Australian Vaccination Network does not present a balanced case for vaccination, does not present medical evidence to back-up its claims and therefore poses a serious risk of misleading the community,” Mr Roberts said.
“The Australian Vaccination Network can therefore find a new name that is more appropriate given its anti-vaccination stance.”
Mr Roberts said the decision to order the change of name was based on concerns raised by parents, medical professionals and the wider community across NSW.
“It is clear this association’s name is not appropriate given what it stands for and the O’Farrell Stoner Government is committed to ensuring the community is not misled on a critically important public health issue such as vaccination,” Mr Roberts said.
“We are asking the Australian Vaccination Network to be honest and upfront about what they stand for and to choose a new name reflecting their beliefs.”
Although lawyers say there is little doubt the Minister and his delegated officials have the power to order name changes, an amendment to the regulations to make the situation clearer in future is working its way through the system.
Noises from within the AVN suggest that they might resist the order or even challenge it in the courts. This will be fun to watch, so I have placed an open order for popcorn at my local supermarket.
In the AVN newsletter that announced the name change order (and protested about how unfair and possibly illegal it is and how it is part of a conspiracy) there was also the announcement that the magazine Living Wisdom had ceased publication. As it is running about eleven issues behind schedule the only people who might notice its demise are the subscribers who haven't received the issues they paid for and the advertisers who haven't seen the publicity that their dollars were supposed to produce.
In that newsletter Ms Dorey made one of her perennial appeals for funds to stave off imminent closure of the AVN. She has since issued another email to her followers offering surplus office furniture and fittings for sale. These are left over from the glory days when the AVN employed several people. Maybe she isn't expecting the good times to come back any time soon. And that's a good thing. With less than three weeks to go until the name change order comes into effect I have optimistically cleared a space in my fridge for the Moët and the chilled flute glasses.
Speaking of courts ... (2/2/2013)
There was supposed to be a five-minute hearing in Lismore Local Court on January 15 to set a date for the full hearing of the application for an Apprehended Violence Order against me lodged on September 9, 2012, by Meryl Dorey, then President of the Australian Vaccination Network. As the action will be taking place about 800 kilometres from my home, I have applied to have the full hearing held by video link from a courthouse near me and this was to be the third mention to set a date for this. I was not required to attend the mention as I had been excused by the Court and only had to state on which dates I would be available for the full hearing.
You can imagine my surprise when I rang the Court to find out that a date had not been set for the video hearing, but there would be another mention on February 26 to set a date. In the meantime, Ms Dorey has been given leave to submit further statements and evidence to the Court. I can only assume that this was granted at her request, and it effectively sets the clock back to September last year. The Court has informed me that she has submitted something, but I won't see it until the postman delivers it at which time I have several days to construct a response. I don't know whether Ms Dorey has again supplied her statements to Tim Bolen before lodging them with the Court as she did last October. He published them as part of an unhinged misrepresentation of what had occurred, but it did give me the advantage of being able to read her statement before it had been delivered to me by the Court. (Bolen has since removed the links to Ms Dorey's statements about the three defendants.) Did I mention that Bolen published the statements before they had been lodged with the Court?
So, the next chapter starts on February 26, a mere five court mentions and 304 days after I asked Ms Dorey to leave my family alone, a request so threatening that it required application to a court for protection using the legal tools usually reserved for urgent cases of domestic violence or persistent close stalking, not for silencing someone who lives 735 kilometres away.
The great court attack is over (4/5/2013)
The attempt by Meryl Dorey, former president of the Australian Vaccination Network, to abuse the legal system in order to stop me talking about her and her activities eventually came to nothing, as it was always going to do. On April 26 the application was dismissed in Lismore Local Court. I attended by video link and my only disappointment was that Ms Dorey wasn't visible on the screen I was looking at when she broke down while arguing with the magistrate after the decision was handed down. Anyone who wants to waste six months of my life because they don't like me disparaging their ridiculous and dangerous ideology can cry in public all they like and the only sympathy they will get from me is that I will point at them and laugh.
I have ordered a transcript of the proceedings and I will have as full an analysis of it as copyright allows shortly after it arrives. In the meantime, here is the timeline of Ms Dorey's action against me. (I have redacted the names of the two other people that Ms Dorey tried to intimidate. One of these cases is yet to be heard.)
September 5, 2012 – Ms Dorey filed three applications for APVO against me, [Dan R] and [Dan B].
September 20 – Ms Dorey went on radio and described all three defendants as criminals and implied that we emailed pornography to her.
September 27 – First mention for all three applications in Ballina Court. Interim orders were placed on [Dan R] and [Dan B]. No order was placed on me. Applicant was to provide personal and witness statements by October 11, defendants to respond by October 25. [Dan R] had his mention adjourned to October 11.
September 27 – Ms Dorey published a blog post in which she said: "The judge (sic) declined to grant an interim AVO against the third defendant, Peter Bowditch". There can therefore be no doubt that she was at all times aware of the fact that there was no interim order applying to me. http://nocompulsoryvaccination.com/2012/09/27/interim-avos-granted-against-savn-founder-and-member/
September 28 – Ms Dorey approved the following comment and allowed it to be published on the AVN’s blog: "Congratulations! Well done! As it concerns Bowditch, check out Auslii database. You will find that he has a criminal record and was incarcerated for aggravated assault. You may already have done so, but providing the justice with examples of Bowditch’s internet criminality might prove to helpful". I have never been convicted of any crime, and it was this very lie that initiated the context in which I made my supposed "threat" to Ms Dorey in April, 2012.
October 11 – Ms Dorey attended Ballina courthouse to file her statements but was asked to make some corrections and resubmit them on October 15.
October 11 – [Dan R] attended Ballina court but Ms Dorey failed to appear, so the application against [Dan R] was dismissed. Ms Dorey subsequently successfully applied to have the dismissal annulled. The grounds for this appeal are not clear, as Ms Dorey had been present at the court house on the day.
October 14 – The day before they were submitted to the Court, Ms Dorey’s three statements were published on Tim Bolen's web site in an article titled "Australian Skeptics Dragged into Court over Rape, Mutilation, and Death Threats Against the Australian Vaccination Network Leadership" http://www.bolenreport.com/skeptics/Skeptics2/Meryl%20Dorey%20death%20threats.htm
October 15 – Ms Dorey submitted her statement to Ballina Court.
October 25 – I submitted my response.
November 15 – Mention in Ballina Court. As I had requested that the full hearing be conducted in a convenient place for me (I live in Wentworth Falls) the matter was adjourned to Lismore Court on December 10 to set a date for my attendance at a hearing by video link. (Ballina has no video facilities).
December 10 – Mention adjourned to January 15 to set a date for hearing by video link.
January 15, 2013 – Mention to set a hearing adjourned yet again to February 26. Ms Dorey was given permission to provide the Court with a supplementary statement. (The statement when supplied contained no relevant material that could not have been included in her October, 2012, submission.)
February 6 – Ms Dorey failed to attend a mediation session with [Dan B]. As she could not be contacted the mediation had to be adjourned to a later date.
February 26 – Date of April 26 set for full hearing by video of the application against me. The Notice of Listing included a hand written note from the Court staff instructing me to arrange for my end of the link.
February 27 – The April 26 date was vacated and the matter adjourned (presumably at Ms Dorey's instigation) to a sixth mention on March 5 to consider either extending the non-existent interim order on me or to place such an order.
March 5 - The April 26 date for a full hearing was reinstated, and no interim order was placed on me.
April 8 - Seventh mention - this was an administrative hearing to record in the court records that I would be appearing by video link from Parramatta Court on April 26.
April 23 - Ms Dorey published a comment about the AVO proceedings on Facebook in which she again used the word "criminal" and announced her imminent victory in court.
April 26 - Case dismissed. And she cried.
Here is a relevant collection of documents submitted to the court. As Ms Dorey gave her first statement to Tim Bolen it would require hide to the bone for her to whine about me publishing what she had to say.
More AVN woes. (4/5/2013)
While I've been away the Australian Vaccination Network has been receiving much attention from people who matter.
The NSW Office of Fair Trading is continuing its action to get the AVN to change its deceptive name. The AVN is resisting as hard as they can and have appealed to the Administrative Decisions Tribunal. I attended an ADT hearing and the matter has been adjourned until June, with both sides having deadlines to submit arguments before then. As a condition of the Tribunal staying the order for the name change the AVN was required to put a notice on all its web sites saying "Consumer warning: NSW Fair Trading has directed Australian Vaccination Network to change its name because it regards the name to be misleading. The Australian Vaccination Network is challenging this direction and the challenge is currently before the Administrative Decisions Tribunal". Unfortunately the Tribunal didn't follow the normal practice and specify a minimum type size for the message, so it is being displayed in very small type on two of the three web sites (and not at all on the third) and is partially obscured by a photograph on the AVN's Facebook page. Also, the text is displayed as an image so that search engines can't detect it. I hope the next time the ADT asks someone to display a warning it looks at the way such warnings are ordered to be displayed by other government authorities.
You might remember that the AVN had a massive victory in the NSW Supreme Court last year when the judge ruled that because of a clause in the legislation (written in 1993) she had no choice but to find in the AVN's favour. Amendments to the particular legislation are working their way through the NSW Parliament as I type, and all members of all parties in both houses have said that they will support the changes. Homeopaths, chiropractors and other peddlers of woowoo will be eternally grateful to Meryl Dorey for having this loophole in the law removed, thus exposing them to action by the Health Care Complaints Commission when (not if) they provide dangerous, non-scientific advice to their victims.
I have been particularly amused by some of the comments made by parliamentarians about the AVN and I will bring along a selection of quotes next week.
The LULZ have started (11/5/2013)
So far the best response I've had to the news of my court victory has come from our old friend Patrick Timothy Bolen, spokessphincter for cancer quacks and patient-molesting dentists. Tim made a contribution to the case by publishing Meryl Dorey's court statements before they had been submitted to the court, and he went on to fantasise about pornography. I asked Tim if Ms Dorey had advised him of the outcome of the matter (I won! She lost!) and this is part of the reply he posted to Usenet.
Meryl Dorey just set you up. She just completed one more step in the "How to set up to legally kill a stalker" handbook. Go ahead and act as though you can now keep pursuing her. Don't be a wimp. Go ahead and increase your activities.
Not afraid are you?
Or is your life just about pretty cupcakes?
I don't know what Tim thinks I should be afraid of. There was a court case which I won and the deadline for lodging an appeal has gone. It's all over. But Tim is like that. He continually rants about court cases that are about to destroy some of his enemies, but the court cases fade into history when the actions wither away to nothing.
And the cupcakes thing - Tim has an obsession with cupcakes and cannot understand the concept of doing something for charity. And why would he? He's spent his life working for crooks who steal money from desperate, gullible or ignorant people.
The AVN get mentioned in Parliament. (11/5/2013)
It's been a bad week for anti-vaccination liars. A big-circulation newspaper has started a campaign targeting irresponsible parents who refuse to vaccinate their children but insist on sending their pox-ridden offspring to schools and child-minding centres. The big news, however, is that the Bill to remove the loophole that the AVN jumped through last year has been closed. Once the Bill has passed through the final rubber stamping quacks will no longer be able to hide from complaints by relying on legislation drafted before the invention of the World Wide Web.
But first, a question put to the Minister for Fair Trading:
AUSTRALIAN VACCINATION NETWORK
Mr JOHN FLOWERS: My question is addressed to the Minister for Fair Trading. What action is the Government taking to protect the community from being misled by the Australian Vaccination Network?
Mr ANTHONY ROBERTS: I thank the member for Rockdale for his question and applaud his determination to ensure that the people of New South Wales are not misled by false claims emanating from fringe groups such as the Australian Vaccination Network Inc. As members of this House know, the Australian Vaccination Network [AVN] actively advocates against the use of vaccinations and denies that immunisation is responsible for a dramatic reduction in many serious diseases in the past century. It does this despite overwhelming evidence that vaccination is a safe, effective and rigorously studied practice that provides people with a high level of protection against numerous diseases, including several that can be fatal.
It is incredibly irresponsible for an avowedly anti-vaccination group to advertise itself as a balanced source of information on vaccination. Such action is not only misleading to the public but also dangerous to those who believe they are referring to evidence-based medical advice. This danger is further highlighted by recent comments by the head of this group, Mr Greg Beattie, who stated, "Don't trust your GP." The Australian Vaccination Network does not provide comprehensive or credible information on vaccinations. Nor does it offer a balanced view on immunisation.
The Government, the medical community and the Australian Medical Association led by Associate Professor Brian Owler are in agreement that the name "Australian Vaccination Network" is unacceptable. To address this issue in the public interest, in December last year the O'Farrell-Stoner Government introduced the Associations Incorporation Amendment (Unacceptable Names) Regulation 2012. This amendment expanded the classifications of unacceptable names to include any name that is likely to mislead the public in relation to the nature, objects or functions of an association. Following the commencement of this amendment, on 14 January this year Fair Trading issued the Australian Vaccination Network with a direction to change the name of its association. This was done on the basis that the name was undesirable because it had the potential to cause confusion, mislead the public and, most importantly, it was against the public interest.
On 8 February 2013 the association sought an internal review by Fair Trading of that decision. The internal review was completed by the principal solicitor of the Department of Finance and Services on 19 February and affirmed our original decision. The review found that the Australian Vaccination Network does not provide a balanced view of the processes, benefits and risks involved with immunisation and that, "Its views are anti-vaccination, and it advises against being vaccinated or taking part in immunisation programs." The review went on to comment that when issues have two sides the Australian Vaccination Network takes just one of them. On 8 March the association put forward some alternative names and Fair Trading responded to the association on 12 March.
I and, I believe, this House and the Government are of the opinion that the names proposed do not accurately reflect the true nature, objects or functions of the association.
At the eleventh hour, the association lodged an appeal in the Administrative Decisions Tribunal against the name-change direction. At the most recent hearing of the tribunal on 22 March this year, the president of the tribunal placed conditions on the organisation, including that a prominent consumer warning be published on the association's website and its Facebook page by 26 March this year. This warning states that Fair Trading has directed the association to change its name because it regards the name as misleading, and that the direction is currently being challenged in the tribunal. The warning will reduce the chances of consumers being misled while the tribunal proceedings are finalised. I inform the House that this matter is currently listed for hearing on 13 and 14 June this year. The Liberals and Nationals are determined to safeguard public health and have acted decisively to do so. Associate Professor Owler stated:
The State Government should be commended on its efforts to improve the health of children through its support of vaccination and its stand against the anti-vaccination lobby.
He added that the Government has shown a strong commitment to children's health. The recent introduction of the Health Legislation Amendment Bill 2013, which I can proudly say has been supported by both sides of the House, is further evidence of the action the Government is taking in this space. Two members of this House to whom I wish to pay tribute are the Minister for Health, and Minister for Medical Research and the shadow Minister for Health. Through their strong cooperation and hard work in this area, they have united in a common cause. [Extension of time granted.]
The people of New South Wales may rest assured that the Government and this House stand firm in their commitment to protecting our community. I thank all members of the House for their continued support as this issue is being tackled. On behalf of this House, I give notice to the Australian Vaccination Network that we are united in our stance to protect the most vulnerable in our community. The best way to do that is to ensure that we have a vaccination program that increases our level of herd immunity.
You can see the full day's transcript of Hansard for the Legislative Assembly here.
Watch this space for an update during the week covering the debate on the Health Legislation Amendment Bill 2013, but I would just like to quote one Member's speech now. This person is a member of the Parliamentary Committee with oversight of the Health Care Complaints Commission, so we can expect prompt action as soon as the Bill becomes law.
The Hon. CATHERINE CUSACK [6.25 p.m.]: The Health Legislation Amendment Bill 2013 proposes several amendments to the Health Care Complaints Act. As a member of the Parliament's Joint Committee on the Health Care Complaints Commission, it is those issues to which I wish to address my remarks. The new provisions will allow the Health Care Complaints Commission to initiate and investigate on its own motion. This addresses a disappointing situation concerning an organisation known as the Australian Vaccination Network, which is a Bangalow-based organisation that is opposed to childhood immunisation that has successfully undermined many parents' confidence in the benefits of immunisation. The Australian Vaccination Network's former director and founder, Meryl Dorey, has undertaken extensive media interviews across Australia using free national media, radio and print to promote her claims that vaccines are toxic and harmful to children. Ms Dorey claims:
Passing through measles infection is sometimes required, for whatever reason, to strengthen some part of a person's vital force.
Ms Dorey insists that highly infectious childhood illnesses such as measles, mumps, rubella and chicken pox are benign. There are many good reasons to spare our children the illness and scarring that can result from these diseases. The foremost in my mind is to protect unborn children who are exposed to horrific consequences in the event that their unprotected mothers are exposed to and catch rubella. Ms Dorey reportedly insists that whooping cough cannot kill children. Whooping cough is an horrific disease that causes immense distress and suffering to babies and their tiny lungs.
In addition to all the media coverage, there is a website and a quarterly magazine called Informed Voice. The zeal and success of the Australian Vaccination Network accumulating scientific fact and truth about immunisation is, sadly, having deadly effects. The Australian Vaccination Network's campaign has been rampant in my community of Northern Rivers, and childhood immunisation rates have fallen below 70 per cent compared with 90 per cent for the rest of Australia. In the Byron shire, which is home to the community of Bangalow, the rate has fallen below 50 per cent.
In 2009 tragedy struck in my community of Lennox Head when four-week old Dana Elizabeth McCaffery died of whooping cough. By all accounts, this newborn baby fought bravely, but in the words of my local paper, the Northern Star, she never had a chance. The standard schedule of immunisation at that time was two months, four months and six months. The Northern Rivers Health Service, given the appalling immunisation rates in the region, has brought forward the first round to six weeks, but because Dana was four weeks this would not have saved her life. Her parents support immunisation, but they never had that chance.
The only things that could have prevented her death would have been if there had been no whooping cough outbreak in the region and if the disease had not been rampaging through the community. That is why our low immunisation rate can be held directly responsible for this tragedy. Following Dana's death responsible and qualified members of the medical and scientific communities formed an organisation called "Stop the AVN". However, the network lodged a complaint about the organisation with the Health Care Complaints Commission. The commission's investigation concluded:
In addition, the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing investigated and cancelled the network's charitable status. The network appealed against the Health Care Complaints Commission ruling and the Supreme Court found deficiencies in the authority of the commission to investigate. That was a disaster. The network had shielded itself from the commission's orders by the clever use of legal technicalities and the decision was presented in the media as a court endorsement of the organisation. I was horrified when I saw the front page of the Northern Star featuring a full-page photo of Ms Dorey with the headline "Vindicated!".
I have pursued the problem of the Australian Vaccination Network as a member of the Joint Committee on the Health Care Complaints Commission, and I know that others have also pursued the issue. I am surprised that the commission and NSW Health have not acted more promptly to make these amendments, although I am delighted to see them before the House today. They will close the loopholes that allowed the Australian Vaccination Network to continue issuing its misleading and deceptive information. Countering the dissemination of dangerous information by any non-health care provider is the highest priority. I hope that when this bill is passed the Health Care Complaints Commission will immediately return to its investigation of the Australian Vaccination Network. The whole point of Parliament's passing this legislation is to empower the commission to do just that.
I understand that NSW Fair Trading has ordered the Australian Vaccination Network to change its name. That order has been appealed and it is now being considered by the Administrative Decisions Tribunal. I wish it well. I point out to the Health Care Complaints Commission and the Minister for Health that irrespective of NSW Fair Trading's success it will not be enough. The network will continue its activities and the Government must do whatever it can to protect the lives of our defenceless babies and small children. I call on the Health Care Complaints Commission immediately to stop the Australian Vaccination Network spreading misleading information and I ask the media as a whole not to facilitate the dissemination of such dangerous messages to vulnerable parents who are already bombarded with confusing information and who somehow believe that the network's role in the immunisation debate is evenly balanced. It is not.
You can see the full day's transcript of Hansard for the Legislative Council here.
The AVO makes the news (20/5/2013)
I woke up on Monday morning to find my Twitter stream and Facebook timeline full reports of a story in the Sydney Daily Telegraph.
The words said:
THE founder of a controversial anti-immunisation group has been accused of using apprehended violence orders to gag her critics. Former Australian Vaccination Network president Meryl Dorey has applied for AVOs against three of her most vocal opponents. As a special condition of the AVOs, she wanted the men banned from making online comments about her in "any derogatory manner".
But she suffered a setback last month when her AVO was thrown out against one critic, Peter Bowditch, who she claimed posted harassing and abusive messages online.
She also took out an AVO against Daniel Raffaele, who helped start the Stop the Australian Vaccination Network group, claiming he made threatening calls to her. Mr Raffaele, who denied making any threatening calls, said he eventually agreed to the order because he was "sick of dealing with it", although he made sure her "gag order" was struck out. "The only thing I was never going to agree to was being silenced on the internet," Mr Raffaele said. "The information (the AVN) spread is dangerous and it's not based on anything other than lies - and it costs lives."
In his submissions to court, Mr Bowditch said he lived 750km from Ms Dorey's home at Bangalow, near Byron Bay, so there was little chance he would come into contact with her if she genuinely feared for her safety. "It is obvious to me that this application ... is actually an attempt to prevent me speaking about or criticising (her) activities," he said.
Western Australia-based Dan Buzzard, another AVN opponent, said Ms Dorey probably saw taking out the AVOs as a "quick and easy" way to silence her critics. He will defend the application today. [Note: the paper got it wrong - the hearing is scheduled for Friday, May 24]
Ms Dorey refused to comment on the applications but denied using the AVOs to shut up her opponents. She said she had received anonymous death threats and had only taken the AVOs out at the suggestion of police. Ms Dorey accused The Daily Telegraph of running a campaign against parents who chose not to vaccinate their children and said she was still "taking legal advice" on appealing the magistrate's decision to dismiss her AVO against Mr Bowditch.
Meanwhile, Premier Barry O'Farrell said he would consider new laws giving childcare centres the power to refuse entry to kids who had not been vaccinated, one of the aims of The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph's No Jab, No Play campaign. He said the government was committed to lifting the number of vaccinated children.
And there's Parliament (20/5/2013)
On May 14, the Health Legislation Amendment Act 2013 came into law in New South Wales. The loophole in the 1993 legislation that allowed the AVN to escape its responsibilities last year and claim a massive victory has been closed. Now any concerned citizen can make a complaint to the Health Care Complaints Commission about any quack. And Parliament is now talking about legislation to restrict access of the pox-ridden offspring of vaccine deniers to kindergartens and child care centres. And in the Federal Parliament instructions have been given to health bureaucrats by the relevant Minister that henceforth people who claim to be "conscientious objectors" to vaccination (in order to steal government benefits tied to full vaccination of their children) will be officially called "vaccine refusers".
And then there's the TGA (20/5/2013)
Some time ago Meryl Dorey appeared on the Internet radio station Fair Dinkum Radio and promoted Black Salve as a cure for cancer. This is an escharotic paste, that is it is a caustic preparation that effectively dissolves any tissues it comes in contact with. It is about as useful a cancer cure as burning cancer away with a blowtorch, although it works a little slower. The Therapeutic Goods Administration politely asked Ms Dorey and Leon Pittard at the radio station to display a notice on their web sites admitting that they had been promoting this dangerous and useless nostrum. They refused. The TGA has now gone one step further and issued an order, not a request, to display the following notice on the AVN web site.
Heels are being dug in and resistance is building. What is different now is that a couple of newspapers have decided to take on the AVN and all its idiocy, and stories like the one at the right are regularly appearing. (The particular story never made it to the paper's web site, so a picture is as good as it gets.)
Here is the text of the retraction. It should be noted that the TGA set specifications for the size of the retraction and the font colour and size. It also has to be displayed as HTML code, not as an image (which is how most crooks try to avoid such notices being indexed by search engines).
An advertisement promoting illegal therapeutic goods under the name “Black Salve”, which we published on this website, should not have been published. In publishing the advertisement, we misled and abused the trust of consumers.
In the advertisement we unlawfully made claims that Black Salve is safe, and that it can be used as an effective treatment for cancers including skin cancer. We also claimed that cancer medicines are harmful and cause cancer, and are ineffectual.
A complaint about the advertisement was recently upheld by the Complaints Resolution Panel. We provided no evidence whatsoever to support the claims we made, and the Panel found that the claims were unlawful, misleading, and unverified and breached the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code (Code).
The full text of the Panel’s determination can be found at: www.tgacrp.com.au/complaints
The delegate of the Secretary for the purposes of regulation 9 of the Therapeutic Goods Regulations 1990 also found that the claims and representation in the advertisement were unlawful, inaccurate and misleading in breach of the Code.
The attention of consumers is directed to the safety information from the Therapeutic Goods Administration at: http://www.tga.gov.au/consumers/information-salve-cansema.htm
You can read the entire order here.
But wait, there's more (20/5/2013)
As part of the continuous process of monitoring and investigating the AVN and its interaction with government authorities, the correspondence between the TGA and the AVN over Black Salve was acquired under Freedom of Information rules. Most of it was just a to-and-fro of argument about the legality or otherwise of selling or advertising products and what the definitions of words like "advertise" really are. Then, right at the end, Ms Dorey threw down what she assumed would be her trump card. She claimed Freeman Of The Land protection.
I won't go into details of this particular form of insanity here, but it is based on the idea that each person is actually two people - a person and that person's Personal Representative. One of these people (I'm not sure which) is a legal fiction who has no contract with the government or any other institutions of society and therefore is not bound by any obligations to pay taxes, rent or bank interest or to be restricted in action by any law of the government, governments being themselves legal fictions that don't really exist. Or something like that. Look up "Freeman Of The Land" and "One People's Private Trust" in your favourite search engine, but be sitting down and be prepared to laugh heartily at how insane people can be and still manage to turn on a computer.
I listened to Leon Pittard at Fair Dinkum Radio rant on about this nonsense once, so I know where Merly Dorey got the idea. She wrote to the official in the TGA in "his private capacity" (that is, as his Personal Representative, not the physical man behind a desk in Canberra) and tried to set things right. Read. Enjoy. Click on the picture for a larger version. (I have redacted the name of the official. He is probably still laughing, but he doesn't need his name associated with idiocy.)