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Speaking of Haiti ... (16/1/2010)
It's good to see that some people have their priorities right. While people all over the world were reaching for wallets, cheque books and credit cards to find money for the victims of the earthquake, Meryl Dorey of the Australian Vaccination Network was looking at the ways that the money might be spent:
This is a sort-of off-topic question. I would like to donate to the efforts to help in Haiti but I don't want ANY of my money going towards vaccines so that red cross and Unicef are out. Does anyone know of an organisation doing work on the ground there helping without vaccines? I want to provide food, ...clean water, education, housing - but not drugs (and I'm sure there are others here who want to do the same).
No drugs! She wants doctors to perform emergency surgery without anaesthetics? No morphine for pain relief? No antibiotics for infections? No sterile drips for people suffering from crush injuries? No antiseptics? What sort of hell does she want the people of Haiti to live in? Tell me how this disgusting lack of compassion is any better than the sewage spewing out of religious loons like Pat Robertson and Fred Phelps. Perhaps I should ask her:
Dear Ms Dorey,
I have been told that you won't donate to organisations providing relief to the people of Haiti if the relief includes the supply of drugs. As many people were injured in the earthquake, does your antipathy to drugs include the anaesthetics needed for emergency surgery, painkillers such as morphine, antibiotics and antiseptics? If so, what are the natural remedies you recommend be used in their place?
Ms Dorey and the folk folk (16/1/2010)
Meryl Dorey hasn't confined her recent activities to just increasing the torment of earthquake survivors. She was a speaker at the Woodford Folk Festival. Why a music festival would want to have people come along to promote opposition to medicine is a mystery, but apparently having a bunch of quacks address the crowd is an annual feature of the event. This how Ms Dorey was presented on the festival program.
"Australia's leading expert in vaccination"? "Unbiased and well researched knowledge"? Was this meant to be a joke, or had the festival organisers been smoking too much of the agricultural produce that the area around Ms Dorey's home is notorious for? It would also have been informative to try to guess how long Ms Dorey would spend speaking about the benefits of vaccination, although I think it would have needed the instrumentation of the Large Hadron Collider to measure a period of time that small.
And here is how Ms Dorey reported her appearance to her loyal followers:
I'm just back from a wonderful week at the Woodford Folk Festival where I was lucky enough to be invited back for the third year in a row to present information on vaccination. I gave one presentation on the Swine Flu (AH1N1) vaccination and participated in 2 forums with some very eminent healthcare practitioners including several doctors who I was very happy to meet and who will be writing articles for up-coming editions of Living Wisdom. My family and I also really enjoyed the music, comedy and good feeling at this incredible event.
Of course, our 'friends' at the Septics did their usual routine of sending emails to the organisers of the event asking them to not let me speak, but thankfully, the Festival cares very much about balance and not at all about suppression of information and my talks were very well-attended and this vital information was able to get out to those who wanted to learn more about vaccinations and health.
It's a bit disturbing that she managed to find some real doctors who support her idiocy, but someone has to come bottom of the class in medical school. As for those emails from the "septics" (oh, how I laughed at that, it must be only the millionth time I've heard it), the email came from me. I don't know what it would take to get Ms Dorey to stop identifying me with Australian Skeptics because I have pointed out on many occasions that not only do I speak for myself, not anyone else, but she was defaming me and accusing me of criminal activity long before I ever became involved with the Skeptics. And did you see where she said that the email "ask[ed] them to not let me speak"? Here is what I wrote, and I leave it up to you to find where I suggested that she be banned.
Meryl Dorey from the Australian Vaccination Network is proudly promoting her speaking appearances at the Woodford Folk Festival, but I wonder what relevance her anti-vaccination campaigning has to the objectives of the festival.
Surely the festival is about promoting music and a sense of community and not about encouraging people to reject medicine and common sense or to provide a platform for people whose activities place the lives of children at risk. Ms Dorey might like to say that she and her organisation are simply presenting facts about vaccination but this is not so. I can confidently predict that her talk about the swine flu vaccine will consist of almost nothing except scare-mongering and misrepresentations of the facts. It would be amusing, however, if she were to repeat the story she was recently spreading about how the swine flu vaccine is an element in a world-wide conspiracy to kill off 90% of the world's population and implant mind controlling microchips in the remaining few.
I have been a follower of folk music for half a century, but I would not like to attend a festival where even a small part of the agenda had been hijacked by someone whose full-time job is spreading fear about one of the greatest life-saving advances ever introduced into the practice of medicine.
Folk music might have its roots in tradition, but that doesn't mean that it should be used by people who want to deny progress.
Does she ever get anything right? Or doesn't she care?
Not flush with cash, AVN is flushed (6/2/2010)
All the hard work might have finally paid off. You can see the wonderful news here, where Meryl Dorey announced that she was resigning as President of the Australian Vaccination Network at the end of February. If nobody can be found to take on the job the AVN will fold, die and disappear. In order to help out, I have applied for the job.
Dear Ms Dorey,
I am sorry to hear that you are resigning as President of AVN. I have enjoyed our communication over the last decade and I will miss you, as will all the other supporters and members of AVN.
I would like to formally apply for the position of President of the Australian Vaccination Network. I have extensive knowledge of the arguments used to oppose vaccinations, I am well known in the anti-vaccination movement, and I have written widely on the matter. I have had experience on the boards of several non-profit organisations and have held the position of President of Australian Skeptics Inc.
I feel that I have a lot to offer to AVN and look forward to helping the organisation to get its message to all the people who need to hear it.
As time is short and I will need to make arrangements with my current clients and adjust my TAFE teaching load in order to take on the AVN duties, an early response would be appreciated. As you are in Bangalow and I am in Wentworth Falls it would probably be more efficient if interviews were to be conducted by telephone or Skype.
For some reason, however, the story seems to change from day to day. Sometimes Ms Dorey is leaving because she wants to spend more time with her family, and sometimes the AVN is folding because it has run out of money, and sometimes it is the horrible "septics" who have been disrupting its activities and wasting its time. (The reason is never that the AVN has been getting so much bad publicity over the last year that it is time to fold the tents and run away.) There is a fire sale going on and donations are being sought, so perhaps there will still be an AVN next month, and there might even be a Meryl Dorey at the helm. This sort of "we're about to close" appeal has gone out before, so I won't be breaking out the Moët until I hear the really good news - that the death is true.
If the AVN finally goes into the cesspit where it belongs there are some people who need a special mention for their part in its decline. Daniel Raffaele set up the Facebook group "Stop the Australian Vaccination Network" which provided a meeting place and information exchange, Christine Bayne and Peter Tierney monitored the AVN's rantings and brought them to a wider audience so that more people could see the idiocy of their agenda. Ken McLeod took the time to file a complaint with the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission. A special thanks must go to my anonymous friend who frequents a large number of anti-vaccination liar mailing lists and forums and passes on information from places where I am not allowed to go. There were others who helped as well - you know who you are.
The highest level of thanks and respect, though, goes to Toni and David McCaffrey. The death of their daughter Dana from whooping cough and their willingness to take this tragedy to the media and demand change was the catalyst which turned the media away from being unwitting mouthpieces for Meryl Dorey and her child-endangering behaviour and caused them to start questioning what she had to say. Two years ago, any story in the media about vaccination seemed to require an unchallenged comment from Meryl Dorey. Now, if she is asked at all there is usually someone talking sense brought along as well. Even if the AVN survives they will no longer be seen as the sole authority on vaccine safety, but will be recognised for what they are. In fact Meryl Dorey even provided the description herself - "rabid idiotic fringe dwellers".
I knew it was too good to be true! (22/2/2010)
I go to all the trouble to build the AVN Deathwatch Countdown counter, I fill the refrigerator with expensive French champagne, I invite all my friends around to celebrate, and what happens? The Australian Vaccination Network carcass gives a twitch and then someone detects a pulse. The thing is still alive! You can read the awful news here.
You might notice where Ms Dorey says:
Well, no sooner had I sent out the email from Sam Statham offering a case of organic wine to the first person to donate $1,000 to the AVN, then (sic) he started to get threatening emails and phone calls.
One email was from a known member of the incorrectly-named Australian Skeptics who has posted many angry messages on boards across the internet - messages whose intent is the denigrate the AVN and myself.
Well, here's a fact for you, Ms Dorey. No member of Australian Skeptics contacted Mr Satham at Rosnay Wines. None, zero, zilch. The person who did contact him is not a member of AS, although he probably shares some of the ideals and principles of the organisation. Also, he did not threaten Mr Statham - he asked him politely if he was aware of the nefarious activities of the AVN. And, Ms Dorey, there was no need for him to denigrate the AVN. You do that yourself every time you spread misinformation about vaccines and medicine.
I also notice that Ms Dorey is standing down from the position of AVN President. I still haven't heard anything back about my application for the job, and I even found someone to fund the entire AVN operation if I became President. I suppose the answer and its accompanying employment-related paperwork has been caught up in the rush of activity at AVN HQ. I hope I hear about it soon because I am settling in to teaching and it becomes harder to reorganise my time as each week passes.
But is the AVN ever really going to fail? I have seen the stories before about its imminent collapse and there always seems to be a saviour who comes along at the last minute. I'll believe it's dead when I hear the clods of earth hitting the coffin.
And one final thing. Ms Dorey said:
I foresee some wonderful additions to the AVN's already impressive range of vaccination information as well as the beginning of scientific research which we have been planning for years.
Elsewhere in the release she mentions that she has tears in her eyes. That statement above brought tears to my eyes. Tears of laughter. They provide an "impressive range of vaccination information"? They are going to do scientific research? I will have to stop now before the laughter triggers an asthma attack.
Hypocrisy corner (6/3/2010)
It looks like nothing has changed at the resuscitated Australian Vaccination Network. One of the first announcements to come out of the outfit following its almost miraculous reprieve from collapse was this reiteration of their commitment to free speech and open comment.
This is the discussion list that has banned me from participation since 2001, although there is no ban on discussing me. That discussion of me can apparently go too far, it seems, because someone was banned from the list recently despite calling me an arsehole. His problem was that he then provided a link to what I had said that annoyed him. The inference is that talking about me and what I say and do is acceptable provided that nothing is done which might allow denizens of the AVN mailing list to actually see what it is that I say and do.
A cynic might also comment that if all messages which "make broad statements about vaccination or disease without backing it (sic) up with references" were to be eliminated then the list would be very bare indeed. As for not welcoming "those who behave in an abusive or dismissive manner towards those whose views do not match their own" and "The list is about intelligent and referenced discussions on vaccination issues", all I can say is that I am glad that my irony meter is still away being repaired after the last whopping lie from the AVN otherwise it would have exploded and I would have had to pay to get it fixed again.
Speaking of Schadenfreude ... (13/3/2010)
Look what I found on the web.
My first assumption was that the Australian Vaccination Network office had simply forgotten to pay their web hosting bill in all the excitement that has been going on there lately. I made the same mistake myself once and, of course, the suspension of my sites happened on Friday and could not be rectified until the ISP's accounts staff came to work on Monday. It's a great law, that Murphy's Law.
You might find this hard to believe, but I was wrong. The site has been closed by the hosting organisation because of some unspecified "legal complaint". This has caused an outbreak of paranoia and conspiracy theory at the AVN the like of which hasn't been seen since Meryl Dorey published a blog post suggesting that the swine flu vaccine contained microchips and was a tactic in a plan to kill more than 90% of the world's population and control the minds of the rest. Here is a sample of the hysteria.
As soon as I hung up the phone with the web hosting company, I received a phone call from a friend who works in the Australian media. This person warned me that a media smear campaign against the AVN is about to start. They said that this campaign has been planned for some time and that it will involve trying to link the AVN with pornographic material.
We will be speaking with legal counsel as soon as we are able to (it is hard when these things take place on the weekend since it is almost impossible to get in touch with anyone over the weekend) and will be taking whatever actions are necessary to get our website back up and to oppose this attack against our right to communication and freedom which should be guaranteed under our democracy
Hey, Meryl - there was no attempt to link you with pornography. You did that yourself when you chose the same abbreviation for your organisation (and a very similar domain name) to that of Adult Video News.
Here's the joke though. On the tenth anniversary of starting The Millenium Project I wrote:
Where it started (14/3/2009)
In 1996 I wrote a book about the Internet. (It was published in early 1997 and modesty forbids me mentioning the name of the author of the biggest-selling non-fiction book in Australia that year.) One of the distasteful things I had to do while researching the book was to examine how easy it could be to find and look at pornography, because that was (as it is now) a concern for some parents and I assumed, rightly as it turned out, that the subject would be raised in almost every interview I did while promoting the book. While doing other research I came across a site from a crowd calling itself the Vaccination Awareness Network, and I remember saying at the time that none of the porn sites I looked at were anywhere near as offensive as this pile of garbage from a pack of child haters.
In 1999 I discovered that the group of clowns had changed their name to make their opposition to vaccination less obvious to the casual observer. They were now called the Australian Vaccination Network, and this change of name to something deceitfully inoffensive made me think that there were people who needed to be offended and offended often. I was looking for a name for my new project, and that was 1999 so everyone was talking about the millennium except those that were talking about the millenium. A metaphorical light bulb flashed over my head and I thought "millenium - a thousand arseholes". The rest is history. What started as just a list of the first hundred offensive sites on March 14, 1999, has turned into what you see today. Unfortunately, the Australian Vaccination Network is also still with us and they are just as offensive to sane and rational people as they were back then, so I have been paying them some attention in this anniversary week.
So the link to pornography has been there, in my mind at least, for over a decade. And I haven't changed my mind a single bit. The Australian Vaccination Network is still more offensive than any legal pornography site that I can imagine. The worst that most porn sites can do is cause a feeling of inadequacy and raise some false expectations. They don't suggest that you should endanger the lives of children, or lie about collecting money for charity, or offer dangerous medical advice that can cause people to avoid real medical care.
You can read Meryl Dorey's snivelling nonsense about the web site problems here. Note the list of defamatory accusations she makes when listing the AVN's problems. Maybe one day she will be asked by a court to justify her paranoid claims.
Australian Vaccination Network and the HCCC (13/3/2010)
As part of the ongoing investigation by the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission into the activities of the Australian Vaccination Network, submissions have been solicited from anyone with an interest. My friend Tom Sidwell went that extra step and not only submitted a complaint but included three excellent analyses of the nature and quality of the AVN's medical advice. These need a wider distribution than just some bureaucrat's in-tray, so with Tom's permission you can read them here.
How many times do I have to say it? (27/3/2010)
Remember how your mother used to say that when you committed a sin of omission or commission? The difference between then and now is that you were a child then and you are not now. Now when you are told something you usually remember it, and when you are corrected about some fact that you have got wrong you absorb the truth and don't repeat the error. Unless you are a pathological liar, of course, or you think that by repeating an untruth you can make it true.
Here is a message posted to the Australian Vaccination Network's Facebook page last week. (I can read the page because Facebook don't allow selective banning from pages, but I can't post there even if I join as a fan and in any case my fandom is always cancelled within minutes of my clicking on the "Become a Fan" button.) One of the vagaries of Facebook is that all administrators of a page are anonymised by the software, so the convention is to put an identifying signature on posts. "B52" is Meryl Dorey, who used to be the President of AVN and might still even be, although they have gone very quiet about the reconstruction that was supposed to be imminent.
As I am banned from correcting the falsehoods in this message in the place where they were published I will have to do it here. So that Ms Dorey can never again claim that she doesn't know that what she said is not true, I have informed her by email:
Dear Ms Dorey,
In a message posted to the AVN's Facebook page on Saturday, March 20, 2010, you made certain statements which do not accord with the known state of the world.
Most people would prefer not to be associated with the Church of Scientology, or at least want to know something about it before selling its products and promoting its teachings. Not so the Australian Vaccination Network. When the matter of Scientology was raised in some online forum recently, Meryl Dorey of AVN posted the following message to Facebook. You will note that she doesn't know anything about Scientology and doesn't even know the name of the Scientology group that produces the video she sells (despite having a review of the video on the AVN site), but she knows they must be good because they oppose psychiatry which is "almost as big an issue as vaccines". Some would call this a "knee-jerk reaction", but I think it's more likely to be an example of the philosophically and morally bankrupt principles of "the end justifies the means" and "the enemy of my enemy is my friend". It is no coincidence that the latter of these was used by anti-psychiatrist Thomas Szasz to defend his role in the establishment of CCHR. Which, Ms Dorey, stands for Citizen Commission on Human Rights. I'm surprised that Ms Dorey didn't know this, because AVN and CCHR share the dubious honour of being recipients at different times of the Anus Maximus Award in the annual Millenium Awards.
And just to show the AVN's commitment to good medical advice (which they don't give, according to their submissions to various investigating authorities), here is an advertisement appearing on the front page of their web site.
And it doesn't end there ... (27/3/2010)
I apologise for so much AVN stuff this week, but this was too good to pass up. It seems that Meryl Dorey of the AVN is getting ready for a new career once she finds someone to take her place as the President of the Australian Vaccination Network. (I have applied for the position of AVN President and have even found a sponsor prepared to completely fund the organisation if I get the job, but I haven't heard back from the selection committee yet).
It could be that Ms Dorey is planning to cross over from the Forces of Darkness to the side occupied by sensible people. On October 30, 2009, when AVN was going broke and she was too busy for words, she managed to find the time and budget to register the following domain names:
As she always uses the spelling "septics" when disagreeing with people she assumes have something to do with Australian Skeptics Inc (and how I love that joke, which retains its humorous quality even unto the millionth repetition) and as Australian Skeptics always use the spelling "skeptics" (to retain a connection with the original Greek root of the word), the only inference that can be drawn is that she is planning to start a competing (or perhaps complementary) organisation to promote skepticism and critical thinking in Australia. After all, as she said to Mike Munro on television when asked for her scientific qualifications "I have a brain" and perhaps she has decided to put that brain to good use.
This situation demands a Kind and Gentle email to Ms Dorey.
Dear Ms Dorey,
You have no idea how pleased I was to find that you had registered various Internet domain names which include the word "australiansceptics". I knew that you were looking for something to do after you stepped down as President of AVN, but I never suspected that you would be planning to join me and my friends over here in skeptic land. As you usually use the spelling "septics" (a joke which is still funny after a million repetitions) and Australian Skeptics Inc use "skeptics", it seems obvious that you are planning your own skeptical organisation.
This can only be good news as the country needs as many supporters of skepticism and scientific and critical thinking as it can get to fight the forces of evil and nonsense. Sometimes it's difficult to convince sensible people that, for example, there are those who oppose vaccination, and it would be immensely useful to have someone with inside knowledge of organised insanity to help get the message of truth out.
As you are well aware, I do not speak for Australian Skeptics unless I specifically say so and in this case I am expressing my personal view. Australian Skeptics Inc might have an opinion on the matter but I will leave it up to them to comment.
I am sure that we can put aside the differences we have had in the past and I look forward to working with you to educate the population to recognise and accept medicine, science, rational thought and truth rather than quackery, magic, superstition and lies.
And speaking of advertising ... (10/4/2010)
The Australian Vaccination Network had planned to run advertisements in a free magazine named Sydney's Child. The obvious intent was to hide their deception in a place where parents would, should and could expect to find good information about bringing up children. Luckily, the magazine editor decided that the purpose of the paper was to provide information, not misinformation, and the advertisements were rejected. One is drawn to speculation about where the many thousands of dollars needed for a multi-city advertising campaign were coming from (the ads were proposed for Melbourne as well as Sydney), given that only a few weeks ago the AVN was about to close its doors because of a lack of funds. Could the poverty of the organisation have been an exaggeration designed to open wallets and purses? But I digress ...
Meryl Dorey from the AVN is raving about this of course. She is annoyed that the ads were rejected sight unseen, ignoring the obvious fact that the refusal was based on the principle that the paper did not want to give publicity to vaccine opponents rather than the specific content of any particular advertisement. I would assume that Sydney's Child would reject proposals for advertisements from adult sex shops on the same basis. Conspiracies involving Big Pharma™ were given the obligatory airing, but it was particularly delicious when Ms Dorey Godwinned herself by raising the spectre of a slippery slope into totalitarianism. You can read Ms Dorey's whine here.
I had to put my oar in, of course, so I sent this email to the paper's editor.
I have just been informed that you will not be running advertisements for the deceptively-named Australian Vaccination Network. With the success they have already had in reducing the vaccination rates in parts of Australia they didn't need to be spreading their vile nonsense to any more parents. Children have already died as a result of their actions (and the parents of at least one of those children were subjected to attack by people closely associated with the AVN).
Vaccination is probably the most successful medical invention of all time when it comes to saving lives, particularly the lives of children, and a magazine devoted to advising parents about how to raise healthy and happy children is not the place for anti-medicine and anti-vaccination propaganda.
You may not be aware that Meryl Dorey of the AVN is claiming that you refused the AVN advertisements because of a fear of backlash from pharmaceutical companies. She has also compared your actions obliquely to the suppression of the press in pre-war Nazi Germany. As Ms Dorey is famous for her acceptance of conspiracy theories (she recently unquestioningly published a claim that the swine flu vaccine was part of a plan to reduce the world's population by 5.5 billion and microchip the rest for mind control) it is no surprise that she sees Big Pharma under every bed.
As a parent, a grandparent and as someone who cares about the welfare of children I am pleased that an outlet for spreading misinformation about vaccines has been closed. Thank you.
Leave Meryl Alone! (10/4/2010)
Some people have been very nasty to Meryl Dorey from the Australian Vaccination Network. Here is a video of someone asking that people leave her alone and stop bothering her.
Irony is not getting the wrinkles out of shirts (1/5/2010)
One of the most successful ventures I have been involved in over the last few months has been a Facebook group called Stop the Australian Vaccination Network. The objective is obvious from the title, and it has attracted a certain amount of fear and paranoia from anti-vaccination liars. The policy has always been to allow anyone to join and comment unless they become too abusive to tolerate, and the number of people banned has been minimal. This hasn't stopped the anti-vaccination liars from screaming about denial of free speech, although many of their complaints seem to be that any form of criticism of their derangement is an attempt to shut them up and prevent the truth being known. In fact we wish they would shut up, but there is nothing we can do to make them do it and expressing displeasure at their antics is hardly censorship.
This concept has been lost on opponents of the group, so this week another group appeared called Stop the Australian Vaccination Network EXPOSED! which is dedicated to freedom of speech. A collection of us from SAVN immediately joined, but it didn't last for long. Soon comments were disappearing and then people as well. Right now the group is invisible to many of my friends, although some of them can still see the gutted content. I mentioned my right of free speech in everything I posted there, but it did no good. It's all gone.
The wonderful irony comes in the logo chosen for the SAVNE group. Whoever set up the site decided to be really clever and combine the crossed circle of the SAVN logo with the demand for free speech. I leave it up to you to decide if they succeeded or just reinforced the impression that they are not prepared to listen to any conflicting views and are hypocritical about their demand for freedom of speech.
I unite with the Uniting Church (15/5/2010)
The Australian Vaccination Network was planning to hold a seminar in Perth where lies could be told to parents about the swine flu vaccine. Just as Meryl Dorey was about to board a plane for the five hour flight from Sydney to Perth she got the bad news - the owners of the venue, the Uniting Church, had revoked permission to use their facilities to spread lies. Adding icing to the cake, the AVN wasn't just banned from this one church hall, it was banned from holding liefests in all Church properties across the city. Here is how a representative of the church announced the decision to interested parties:
There have been concerns raised by a number of prominent church members who are experts in the field of ethics and public health who have advised me that the message promoted by the Australian Vaccination Network is not in line with the ethos and values of the Uniting Church in Australia.
Therefore, after consultation with the chair of church council, I would like to inform you that no Uniting Church in the City venue is being made available to the Australian Vaccination network for tomorrow night's meeting.
This experience has prompted me to review the Uniting Church in the City's policy on community use of UCIC space. We will be more closely examining the ethos and values of all groups that seek to use our space in the future.
I, of course, immediately whipped out the quill pen and sent this message to the Uniting Church official concerned.
Congratulations. I have just heard the news that the Australian Vaccination Network has been refused permission to use Uniting Church facilities to spread their misinformation about vaccines.
On behalf of the children of Perth I thank you for taking action to minimise the opportunity for nonsense and lies to be spread to parents about possibly the greatest life-saver ever in the history of medicine.
I might not share your faith but I am aware that one of the few things which appears in almost identical terms in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke is Jesus' expression of his respect for and love of children, and when he said "suffer the children" he did not mean that they should suffer in the modern sense of experiencing pain, something that would be inevitable if organisations like the Australian Vaccination Network were to get their way.
Again, congratulations and thank you.
The reaction of the AVN was equally predictable, and you can read the first salvo here. Everyone is being blamed, from the Health Department down. In reality, the WA Health Department had nothing to do with it (although it would be nice to have them come out against the anti-vaccination liars occasionally), it was simply some concerned Christians who didn't want their church associated with ideas and actions which would have been anathema to Jesus. (I am not surprised that Meryl Dorey misrepresented or misunderstood the words "the message promoted by the Australian Vaccination Network is not in line with the ethos and values of the Uniting Church in Australia", because the words "ethos" and "values" are probably mysteries to her.) The attack has continued with a barrage of emails to the Uniting Church people in Perth whining about freedom of speech and how children need to be protected from missing out on dangerous diseases, but the best has to be this post to Facebook by Meryl Dorey (and just who is the president of the AVN these days?):
The Church is supporting a "bunch of atheists"? (SAVN is the Facebook group "Stop the Australian Vaccination Network") I don't believe that a survey has ever been done of the religious beliefs of the members of the SAVN Facebook group and I have seen no indication that members of the group find siding with the Church on this issue to be "uncomfortable" or that anyone is "not liking it one bit" that the Church has done something that we fully support. Vaccination is not a religious issue, it is a matter of public health and parental responsibility for the health of their children and the children that they come into contact with. Oh, and another thing, Ms Dorey - with Australia's defamation laws as they are it is either very courageous or very foolish to accuse someone of corruption, but as your very first public comment about me accused me of financial corruption I am not surprised that you played this particular card.
Danger! Liefest ahead. (29/5/2010)
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that the Australian Vaccination Network had been planning to hold a seminar in Perth to lie to some parents but the venue owners, the Uniting Church, decided that such an event was "not in line with the ethos and values of the Uniting Church in Australia" and told the AVN to look elsewhere. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth from the AVN, and the announcement was made that the seminar will now be held at the State Library of Western Australia. My fingers flew to the keyboard and I sent a message to the Librarian:
Dear Mrs Allen,
I know I'm not the only one to write to you to express my dismay at the facilities of a place of learning, the State Library of WA, being used to spread untruths and fearmongering.
Despite claims to the contrary, the Australian Vaccination Network is not interested in a fair debate about vaccination or in presenting anything that might be in the least bit favourable to vaccination. They, and their representative Meryl Dorey, are implacably opposed to the use of any vaccines at any time against any disease administered to any person of any age.
Their opposition to vaccination is supposedly based on science, but real science is totally rejected in favour of nonsense, pseudoscience and outright fabrication.
An example of the honesty shown by these people can be found in Ms Dorey's promotional material for the seminar, in which she says "This talk examines the risk of flu to children, the effectiveness of the vaccine and the additional risks to children's health of adding another vaccine to the childhood schedule. A schedule which now includes 12 vaccines before 12 months of age". Not only can I confidently guarantee that the risks of influenza will be trivialised (it only causes 1.2% of deaths in Australia) but the dangers of the vaccine will be exaggerated, lies will be told about how the vaccine is not tested, and further lies will be told about the ingredients in the vaccine.
If you think I might be prejudging the AVN, consider the last sentence I quoted from their promotion of the seminar: "A schedule which now includes 12 vaccines before 12 months of age". There are six vaccines recommended in the current schedule for children under 12 months, not 12, and this fact can be easily and quickly established from publicly available government sources. If someone is prepared to tell so transparent an untruth when the facts are easily discovered, one can only guess at what will be said when the facts are harder to find.
I have tried not to let the fact that Ms Dorey is an AIDS denier colour my opposition to the AVN exploiting the Library as a means of gaining credibility, and mentioning her recent media release which put forward the argument that the swine flu vaccine was part of a world plot to microchip the population as the first stage of culling 90% of the world's population would just be gilding the lily.
I doubt that the Library would be seen as a suitable venue for holocaust deniers or AIDS deniers or 9/11 "truthers" to spread their demented ideas. I see no reason why vaccine deniers should be treated any differently. Please tell them to peddle their nonsense elsewhere.
I wasn't the only person to write, and we all received a form letter in reply saying that the seminar was going ahead. This is very disappointing, as I think that it is even more offensive to have a lie-telling competition in a library than it is in a church hall. Apparently the State Library of WA really does think that freedom of speech extends to shouting "Fire" in a crowded theatre.
Oh, and if you think that the AVN doesn't tell lies, remember "This talk examines the risk of flu to children, the effectiveness of the vaccine and the additional risks to children's health of adding another vaccine to the childhood schedule. A schedule which now includes 12 vaccines before 12 months of age", words from one of the speakers (who is undertaking a PhD researching vaccine dangers, although contrary to normal procedure, in this case the thesis writing is being done before the research). Here is the list of vaccines given to Australian children before the age of 12 months (from the National Immunisation Program Schedule - Note: The schedule has changed slightly since 2010. You can see the latest schedule (2013) here.):
12 vaccines? Is this PhD student so stupid that they can't tell the difference between a vaccine and an injection of a vaccine? Or is any lie good enough if they think that nobody will check?
Advertising, let's lie about it (5/6/2010)
The following pearl of wisdom was published this week on the Australia Vaccination Network's Twitter account (which I am banned from following):
Did you know: That pharmaceutical & chemical companies are the largest buyers of advertising? Think about that next time you read a mag.
As I have found it good practice to take anything said by this organisation with not just a grain but a bulk ore carrier full of salt, I thought I would check with an authority, in this case the US publication Advertising Age. Here are the most recent statistics on world-wide expenditure on company advertising.
|1||Procter & Gamble Co.||$9.73 billion|
|4||General Motors Co.||$3.67 billion|
|5||Toyota Motor Corp.||$3.20 billion|
|6||Coca-Cola Co.||$2.67 billion|
|7||Johnson & Johnson||$2.60 billion|
|8||Ford Motor Co.||$2.45 billion|
|9||Reckitt Benckiser||$2.37 billion|
|12||Honda Motor Co.||$2.22 billion|
|13||Mars Inc.||$2.00 billion|
|14||McDonald's Corp.||$1.97 billion|
|15||Sony Corp.||$1.85 billion|
|17||Deutsche Telekom||$1.81 billion|
|18||Kraft Foods||$1.79 billion|
|19||Nissan Motor Co.||$1.72 billion|
|20||Walt Disney Co.||$1.59 billion|
|21||Danone Groupe||$1.58 billion|
|22||General Electric Co.||$1.55 billion|
|23||Time Warner||$1.53 billion|
|24||PSA Peugeot Citroen||$1.51 billion|
You will notice that the first company in the list which has any real pharmaceutical business is Johnson & Johnson, but their major business is in health care products. I drive a Toyota (5th place) and while their cars can be boring enough to act as a soporific when you are driving, I don't think this counts as pharmaceutical manufacture. The first real Big Pharma comes in at number 16 and spends less than 20% of the top spender. The most evil of all Big Pharma companies, Pfizer, only makes it into 25th place. Yes, I know the original lie said "pharmaceutical & chemical companies", but there can be no doubt that the writer didn't mean people who sold soap, food, soft drink and perfume. It is interesting to note that none of the top twenty-five can be considered to be a chemical manufacturer unless you accept the reality of everything being made of chemicals.
This sort of absurd claims about financial numbers is a common tactic of the anti-medicine campaigners. For instance, I was told recently in a breathless tone that vaccines are immensely profitable because world-wide sales are expected to reach $16 billion by 2016. Leaving aside the facts that this is about half the current annual sales of snake oil in the US, that it is not much more than 150% of what a single company spends now to promote soap, and that the projection is for six years from now, it is projected sales, not profit. The quackery industry might be able to get away with sales being almost all profit but in the real world there are research, manufacturing, distribution and other costs which have to come out of sales.
Another example comes from 2006, when I had this to say:
In this case it was a claim by a supporter of medical quackery that the combined profits of ten pharmaceutical companies in the Fortune 500 exceeded the total profit of the other 490 companies combined. (Apparently it is somehow a problem that very large organisations make profits, and we all know that all suppliers of alternative medicine provide their services for free.) An immediate response to this claim from someone sensible was to show that the publicly available financial positions of the Fortune 500 indicated that the highest placed company with a pharmaceutical interest was Johnson & Johnson, which was in 11th place. (Remember that the Fortune 500 includes only publicly-listed companies which are required by law to publish financial reports.) An analysis of the 500 brought out the information that the combined profit of the ten pharmaceutical companies was in fact only about 120% of the profit declared by the largest corporation on the list (Exxon) and only about 25% of the combined profits of the top ten. And what was the response of the quackery supporters to this demolition of an absurd attack on medicine? It came in the form of two demands: "Define profits" and "Define Fortune 500". You get used to goalpost-moving when you try to debate these people, but usually the goalposts at least stay in the same suburb. It would be amusing if it wasn't so pathetic.
You might wonder why they tell lies which can so easily be demonstrated to be lies, and the only thing I can think of is that they don't care. Lying is what they do, and the end justifies the means.
An oldie but a goodie (12/6/2010)
In most places of the world politicians are seen as useless and a necessary evil, but sometimes one will do something that surprises us. Here is a media release from a previous Australian Federal Minister for Health. It was a few years and ministers ago, but it is one of the finest documents I have ever seen come out of the morass of Parliament and giving it another airing won't do any harm.
15 October 1998
Anti-immunisation lobby misleading the media
I am disappointed that several media organisations have chosen to publish incorrect information from the Australian Vaccination Network without attempting to verify the facts first with either my office or the Department of Health and Family Services.
It has been widely reported today that I am being sued by the AVN through either or both the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and the Federal Court.
As of 10am this morning, no Federal Court or Administrative Appeals Tribunal action had been lodged by the Australian Vaccination Network or individuals complaining about the Government's $30 million Measles Control Campaign.
Immunisation is proven to be the safest way to protect children against preventable disease. The National Health and Medical Research Council, the nation's peak medical academic body, says so. The World Health Organisation says so. The Australian Medical Association says so. In a recent survey 98% of Australia's parents support immunisation.
I am very proud of our recent efforts with immunisation. Thousands of teachers, parents, nurses and others have all worked very hard to protect children against preventable disease. I commend the resolve of parents to protect their children through immunisation in the face of the vicious scaremongering tactics of opponents of immunisation.
There will always be some people who choose to ignore science and I respect their right to hold anti-immunisation beliefs, even if that does leave their own children exposed to deadly but preventable illnesses.
However, I am deeply concerned that media organisations risk giving credibility to the crackpot views of the AVN by publishing, without question, their untrue and deceitful claims. Ultimately, young children who are particularly vulnerable to measles could suffer if their parents were influenced by the anti-science, irrational views of the AVN.
To date, almost a million children have received vaccinations against measles, one of the biggest killers in the world. Even in Australia, on average, 14 people died from measles each year between 1978 and 1992. By immunising our children, this toll can be reduced.
I will continue to work hard to promote immunisation because it is right for Australian children. The Measles Control Campaign still has several weeks to run, so let's work together to beat measles.
Wow! The Australian vaccination Network lied about suing the Minister for Health. Who would ever have thought it?
But some people wouldn't care (3/7/2010)
The image at right is an exchange on the Australian Vaccination Network's Facebook page. You will notice that Meryl Dorey, erstwhile President of the AVN, states yet again that she "support[s] a diverse range of views and people - even if they don't agree with us". She makes this statement on a Facebook page from which I am banned. She has blocked me from following her on Twitter. I am blocked from commenting on the AVN's blog and I have been banned from the AVN's mailing list for over a decade. She responded positively once to someone who offered to stand at the door of an AVN function and stop me from entering. She has no commitment to freedom of speech unless that freedom is abused to lie to parents about the dangers of vaccines. Her citing of Voltaire is merely reinforcement of her hypocrisy. Voltaire would not have wasted a second on her if he saw her lying in the street.
The response to Ms Dorey fully exposes the tactics and ethics of the anti-vaccination liar movement. David and Toni McCaffrey lost their infant daughter to whooping cough, and the death can be directly attributable to the activities of the anti-vaccination campaigners in their locality. Ms Dorey posted offensive comments to the memorial page set up on Facebook for Dana McCaffrey, but no attempt was made to censor her vile remarks in any way. I sat in a television studio with the McCaffreys while members of the AVN vilified them and anybody else who might suggest that vaccines save lives. The suggestion of a
Choose your rebar, Johanna
And as for Johanna's suggestion about contacting employers, all I can say is "Bring it on". I have two jobs. At one of them the employer's attitude to vaccination can be seen by the policy of providing free flu vaccination to all staff. If she contacts my boss at the other job he will tell her which of her orifices would be the most appropriate place to insert a red hot length of reinforcing rod, the rustier the better.
I'm a fascist? (10/7/2010)
A wonderful attack on supporters of real medicine has been circulating for the last few days. It even made it as a featured article on the Age of Autism web site, a sure sign that anti-vaccination liar paranoia is very much on the boil. I happen to run the Australian Council Against Health Fraud in what little spare time I have (and I hope to get more active with the organisation in the next few months) so I was particularly thrilled to find that ACAHF is now a "major corporate lobby group".
I am so ashamed, chagrined and fearful of the facts disclosed in the article that I have decided to publish it here so we can all see how stupid and idiotic anti-vaccination liars can get. Be prepared, though, before you start reading. Don't wear good clothes, put down some plastic so the carpet doesn't get wet, wear a raincoat to protect yourself from the boiling mouth foam and put on some welding goggles to protect your eyes from sparks of burning stupid. Oh, and a note to Martin Walker: Thank you for the heads-up to a couple of anti-vaccination liar web sites that I wasn't aware of and remember that we're laughing at you, not with you.
July 09, 2010
Health Fascism in Australia.
By Martin Walker
The sinister Skeptics group, agents of what used to be CSICOP now the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) organised from the US and linked to the major corporate lobby groups, American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) and American Council Against Health Fraud (ACAHF), which is in turn linked to the Australian CAHF) are making ground in Australia. Supported by authoritarian ideological influences in government and Big Pharma, the Skeptics are running constant attacks on homeopathy, natural cancer treatments, those who question vaccination and those who support any form of alternative medicine.
With the present world fiscal crisis, all those linked to Big Pharma and Science are fighting a bitter battle to preserve drug company competitiveness. But where fascist influences in government and health with most force come together is in attacking anyone who speaks out about freedom of choice and expression in relation to vaccination.
Over the last year the international corporate lobby Skeptics, have been behind a campaign against the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN). In 2009, one of their trolls, a lay person with no standing in medicine or government complained about the web site of the AVN to the office of the State Government funded Health Care Complaints commission (HCCC) an organisation that accepts complaints against groups found be giving out false information about health.
The remit of the HCCC, did not actually cover parent groups which discussed the pros and cons of vaccination, so the State government slightly changed the remit to satisfy the Skeptics. The government then proceeded with a year long investigation into Meryl Dorey the woman who established and runs the AVN and the AVN itself.
Dorey was asked to answer their first 30 odd page report against her and the organisation, within a few weeks. She did this with a magnificent document that argued every point with brilliance. The complaint investigation actually argued against almost every sentence that had appeared on the AVN web site. If the AVN had said that vaccines contained toxic elements, such as mecury and aluminuim the HCCC argued with pseudo science that this was not true, giving pages of bogus evidence to support the vaccine manufacturers.
Yesterday Dorey received the final 30 page answer from the HCCC to the Skeptics complaint. This inevitably reiterated all the charges brought against and included many gems of Orwellian Newspeak, such as:
'In Australia vaccination is a key plank of public health strategy. It is thus extremely important for individuals, especially parents, to be able to make informed decisions about vaccination. The AVN provides information that is misleading for the average reader by inaccurately representing information, selectively reporting information, and giving non-peer reviewed and anecdotal material the same authority as peer -reviewed literature'.
This is the hub of Health Fascism happily embraced by the HCCC evidently supported not by the votes of their constituents but by Big Pharma. The pharma-skeptics and corporate science geeks, have pushed this censorious line in Britain and America. In Britain they went so far as to draw up a set of rules suggesting that no one other than scientists or doctors should be able to write anything, or say anything in the media; no lay person was to be able to hold a view on their own health or that of others. The next step after ruling that no one other than scientists can speak about health, is the bringing into force of fascism. No discussion about compulsory vaccination - force it on people, no discussion about alternative medicine - ban it, no discussion about what constitutes democracy - bring in scientific and evidence based politics and human behaviour.
In the past Meryl and her co-workers has been subject to authoritarian style attacks by the Skeptics, her web site has been taken down and meetings she was arranged to address called off. She and her co-workers and the AVN, are presently gearing up for the media onslaught on her and her web site. The media, like vultures are circling, asking for special privileges to present her case and tell her story, but Meryl is far too intelligent to fall for any of these parasitic manoeuvres; she's a fighter. Inevitably, however at the moment she feels isolated - as those living in Australia must sometimes do! (LOL). Everyone must rally round and lend her their strength. E-mail the inappropriately named, Health Care Complaints Commission at: firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone them on (02) 9219 7444. Fax them on: (02) 9281 4585. Ask the HCCC why they accept complaints from people who belong to the global corporate science lobby group, Skeptics.
Support the AVN (http://www.avn.org.au/) . Contact any independent media, film makers or journalists you know in Australia and ask them to contact Meryl. Bring Meryl and the AVN into the international fold that is fighting to maintain health freedom and stands against Health Fascism. Martin J Walker is an investigative writer who has written several books about aspects of the medical industrial complex. He started focusing on conflict of interest, intervention by pharmaceutical companies in government and patient groups in 1993. Over the last three years he has been a campaign writer for the parents of MMR vaccine damaged children covering every day of the now two year hearing of the General Medical Council that is trying Dr Wakefield and two other doctors. His GMC accounts can be found at www.cryshame.com, and his own website is, www.slingshotpublications.com
HCCC and AVN (12/7/2010)
The NSW Health Care Complaints Commission has released its findings into complaints made against the Australian Vaccination Network. While the findings are not as dramatic as we could have hoped for, the HCCC was able to reveal that much of the propaganda pushed by Meryl Dorey and the AVN was either inherently unscientific or could not be supported by the references provided. The HCCC made the following recommendations:
The Australian Vaccination Network should include an appropriate statement in a prominent place on its website which states:
I am very disappointed about this, because it doesn't amount to much more than a small slap on the wrist, and recommendation 3 allows any quack or alternative medicine provider to give advice as long as they are allowed to adopt the title of "health care provider". I suspect that for the AVN it will be business as usual, with the added propaganda advantage that they can claim that they are the victims of a witch hunt. I also expect the attacks on Ken McLeod and the McCaffreys to escalate, especially on overseas based anti-vaccination liar websites.
One good thing that might come out of it, however, is that the media might be a bit more careful in future when getting advice from Ms Dorey and the AVN and take what they hear from there with some very large bags of salt.
A bit more about the AVN (17/7/2010)
It's sad when your former supporters turn on you. Here is the local paper in the Australian Vaccination Network's region reporting on the recent Health Care Complaints Commission ruling on the AVN's activities. The paper used to be favourable to the AVN, but sense has broken out.
Lismore pediatrician Dr Chris Ingall has welcomed the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) report on its 12-month investigation into the Bangalow-based Australian Vaccination Network.
The investigation was triggered by two complaints made to the HCCC, a NSW authority that investigates complaints relating to the provision of health care.
The first was from Toni and David McCaffery, of Lennox Head, parents of baby Dana who died at four weeks from whooping cough (pertussis) on March 9 last year.
The second complainant was made by Ken McLeod.
The investigation found the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) provided �misleading and inaccurate information� on vaccination.
"It backs up what we have been saying about the AVN," Dr Ingall said. "It has directly affected the health of children on the North Coast."
Health academic Dr Sue Page said the report was an exhaustive study that showed the AVN's claim to be aprovider of balanced information was false.
"The report shows that they are anti-vaccination," Dr Page said. "In this local area they have had a major and negative impact."
David McCaffery welcomed the report's findings.
Part of his complaint to the HCCC was that AVN president Meryl Dorey had misrepresented the facts of Dana's death by implying the infant had not died from pertussis.
The investigation found Mrs Dorey was not �in possession of all the facts and circumstances of Dana's illness and death when she spoke with the media and postedinformation relating to Dana on her web-log�.
Mr McCaffery said the report proved the AVN �could not be trusted�.
"People need to access information that gives them the real benefits and risks," he said.
"People should keep away from the AVN because they do not tell the truth."
Mr McCaffery also said the State and Federal governments were not doing enough to provide accurate information on vaccination.
The HCCC has recommended the AVN include a prominent statement on its website to say its purpose is to �provide information against vaccination in order to balance what is it believes is the substantial amount of pro-vaccination information available elsewhere�.
It also said there should be a statement on the website explaining the information provided should not be taken as medical advice and the decision about vaccination should be made in consultation with health-care providers.
The Australian Vaccination Network has been given 14 days to comply with the HCCC recommendations.
Mrs Dorey issued a media release to say she would be �investigating all options in order to respond to the outrageous attack on free speech inherent in the recent allegations made against it by a NSW state authority, the HCCC�.
Mrs Dorey argued the AVN did not fall under the jurisdiction of the commission.
However, the HCCC found that Mrs Dorey was a health-care educator and the AVN was a health education service, so therefore fell under the jurisdiction of Health Care Complaints Act.
Mrs Dorey is yet to respond to the findings of the report and did not agree to be interviewed for this story.
FINDINGS CONCERNING THE AVN
And here is a comment from my friend Darryl.
During the week I was accused on the Australian Vaccination Network's Facebook page (from which I am banned, of course) of lying for challenging a claim that children in Australia receive more than 30 vaccines by the time they get to their first birthday. (Part of the attack on me consisted of providing a link to this wonderful web page about me. Enjoy!) One wonderful comment said that it didn't matter if the number wasn't exactly 30 because it was more than that. As I cannot respond in the forum where the attack on me happened I have to respond here in public, so I thought I would dust off my numerology skills to see if I could derive the number 30 from the information provided in the Australian National Immunisation Program Schedule. (Note: The schedule has changed slightly since 2010. You can see the latest schedule (2013) here.)
The vaccines given are:
|Number of occasions on which vaccines are administered:||4|
|Number of injections in the complete schedule:||19|
|Number of unique vaccines:||6|
|Number of diseases vaccinated against:||8|
To be generous, and knowing how anti-vaccination liars like to stretch things out to fit their prejudices, I have added these vaccines which are only administered after the child's first birthday, and I have included the extra doctor's visit.
|Number of occasions on which vaccines are administered:||5|
|Number of injections in the complete schedule:||22|
|Number of unique vaccines:||8|
|Number of diseases vaccinated against:||12|
Do you see the number 30 there at all? Neither do I. What is interesting to note is that the PhD student who made the "30 vaccines" claim was saying only 12 vaccines back in May. I am surprised at this as it is obvious that no further research should have been needed for her thesis, based as it is on the a priori assumption that vaccines are dangerous and therefore no research at all is required.
How do you tell when an anti-vaccination campaigner is lying? When their lips are moving or their fingers are typing.
Speaking of numbers ... (24/7/2010)
On July 7, 2010, the Australian vaccination Network was asked by the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission to take the following action within 14 days:
The Australian Vaccination Network should include an appropriate statement in a prominent place on its website which states:
This followed an investigation of the AVN by the HCCC which resulted in some pretty damning criticism of the AVN's activities.
As more than 14 days have passed I thought I would check the AVN's web site to see the prominent notice. To nobody's surprise there is is no such notice, although at the time I looked there was a link to a repetition of the lie that pharmaceutical companies are the largest purchasers of advertising. (I addressed this lie in June.) There is also an article in which someone claiming to be a real doctor states that the tetanus shot is more dangerous than the disease. (I have included a picture of a child with a mild case of tetanus to show how harmless it is.) What is definitely missing is any notice suggesting that the AVN is taking any notice of the HCCC.
Just in case the AVN executives have forgotten, I will run the following counter on the front page of this site until they comply with the HCCC recommendations.
Australian Vaccination Network
The AVN is now
And do you wonder if the HCCC have noticed that the AVN hasn't done as it was asked? Here is the media release:
PUBLIC WARNING ABOUT THE AUSTRALIAN VACCINATION NETWORK (AVN)
26 July 2010
by the Health Care Complaints Commission under section 94A of the Health Care Complaints Act 1993
The Health Care Complaints Commission has investigated two complaints about the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN), a non-profit organisation registered in New South Wales that provides information about vaccination. The complaints alleged that the AVN provides incorrect and misleading information about vaccination.
The Commission's investigation of the complaints focussed on the material presented by the AVN on its website www.avn.org.au.
The Commission's investigation established that the AVN website:
On this basis, the Commission recommended to the AVN that it should include a statement in a prominent position on its website to the following effect:
The Commission recognises that it is important for there to be debate on the issue of vaccination. However, the AVN provides information that is inaccurate and misleading.
The AVN's failure to include a notice on its website of the nature recommended by the Commission may result in members of the public making improperly informed decisions about whether or not to vaccinate, and therefore poses a risk to public health and safety.
The HCCC removed the Public Warning in February 2012 following a court decision favouring the AVN. It is reproduced here for historical reasons.
You can see the details of the court case here.
AVN near death? Children feel safer already. (7/8/2010)
Time appears to be running out for the Australian Vaccination Network. They might be able to ignore the Health Care Complaints Commission, but it is doubtful that they can ignore the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing who oversee charities in the state.
It gave me enormous satisfaction in May, 2009, to be the first person to notify OLG&R that the AVN was quoting an expired charity authority registration code on their web site.
The registration had expired almost two years previously and in the arrogant fashion we have come to expect from the AVN they just kept on asking for money. To justify asking for money they said:
As a volunteer run charity organisation the AVN relies on the support of others. No matter how small the contribution it all adds up to help keep us in operation.
What your donation will go towards-
The second item listed is the soliciting of donations for the purpose of "offer[ing] our services and our magazine in the Bounty Bag". Remember that this had been on the AVN site since the start of 2007. The people who run the Bounty Bag program had never heard of the Australian Vaccination Network and have stated categorically that they would in no circumstances allow anti-vaccination literature to be included in the bags. So where have those donations been going?
The OLG&R is now asking the same question, and they can ask with the force of the law behind them. Here is how the local newspaperin the AVN's region, the Northern Star, reported the news. It is worth pointing out that until recently this paper appeared to be a strong supporter of the AVN. Not any more, it seems.
Ava Benny-Morrison | 6th August 2010
THE Australian Vaccination Network Inc is being investigated after claims it engaged in unauthorised fundraising.
The Bangalow-based anti-vaccination group has three weeks to prove why its charity fundraising authority should not be revoked after an audit by the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) found alleged breaches of legislation.
Possible breaches of the Charitable Trusts Act 1993 also have been referred to the Department of Justice and the Attorney-General.
The OLGR recently visited the non-profit company's offices where its officers examined records and interviewed staff.
According to the OLGR, the audit revealed breaches of the Charitable Fundraising Act 1991, including alleged incidents of fund-raising without authority, unauthorised expenditure and failure to keep proper records of income and expenditure.
The AVN now has 28 days to prove otherwise, an OLGR spokesman said.
"We are asking them to address the breaches identified," he said.
"They may want to put forward evidence defying these breaches or any sort of arguments for their future."
Breaches of charitable fundraising legislation can lead to an organisation or company being prosecuted in court, although the OLGR spokesman said whether the AVN would be prosecuted or not "relies on what they receive from them and what their final determination is".
The AVN was granted a fundraising authority from July 5, 2002, to July 4, 2007. The authority was renewed on June 2 last year following a two-year lapse.
The allegations of unauthorised fundraising fall between the two-year lapse period of July 4, 2007, and June 2, 2009, when the AVN did not have an updated fund-raising authority.
It is claimed that during that time the AVN asked for contributions to fund a pamphlet to be inserted in maternity gift bags called Bounty Bags. But the organiser of the gift bags knew nothing about the pamphlets.
Additionally, one of AVN's opponents, the Vaccination Awareness and Information Service, claimed the AVN received donations in 2006 to conduct a vaccination testing program that never occurred.
AVN released a statement yesterday saying it followed the audit process to the best of its capability and had co-operated with the OLGR "each step of the way".
The statement also said AVN was "confident at the end of the auditing process they will be able to retain their charitable process" and at "no time throughout the due process have there been suggestions of fraud".
AVN president Meryl Dorey declined to comment further.
Earlier this month the Health Care Complaints Commission issued a public warning against the AVN.
The commission found selective information on the AVN website may be dangerous and, by omitting a warning on their website of their nature, poses a public and safety risk.
The OLGR said it was taking this public warning "into consideration" as part of its audit as it related to allegations of "misleading the public".
Similar stories appeared in many newspapers, so it looks like the very extended honeymoon period during which Meryl Dorey and the AVN were seen as the "go-to" people when stories were being written about vaccination is over. Not a second too soon. Here is a story on Lateline, one of Australia's most respected news commentary programs.
Meryl Dorey loves to whine about censorship and suppression, so I am only too happy to publish her media release about the OLG&R here. Feel free to be soundly amused at the claim that the purpose of the AVN is "to provide referenced information to the Australian public regarding the benefits and risks of vaccination". When are the references to real science going to start, Ms Dorey? And please tell us the benefits of vaccination.
AVN bleats on (14/8/2010)
The Australian Vaccination Network's erstwhile president, Meryl Dorey, has been publishing a stream of whines on her blog attacking everyone in sight over the attention that the AVN has been getting lately from government organisations. It would seem to be a simple matter to post a requested notice on the AVN web site and then get back to the business of endangering children, because the true believers who orbit the AVN can be told that it is a formality and therefore inconsequential. That is not the Dorey way, however, so instead there has been a series of increasingly hysterical blog posts describing the witch hunt. Any day now I expect to see mentions of the Illuminati and the Rockefellers or perhaps even David Icke's lizard people. (Ms Dorey once famously republished an article by Icke which said that the swine flu vaccine was designed to kill almost all of the world's population and implant mind-control microchips in the rest. She has been trying to deny this ever since, but is always immediately directed to the blog post in which it appeared.)
In her latest rant she has decided that anybody who criticises the AVN is thereby practising medicine or giving medical advice and should be reported to the Health Care Complaints Commission, as if this exonerates the AVN's activities. I rated a mention, but as usual what Ms Dorey said about me contained several examples of what could politely be called "inaccuracies". I posted the following reply. The probability of it being published is less than that of me winning lotto two weeks in a row.
I know Ms Dorey is very busy ducking and weaving, so just in case she hasn't had time to moderate messages to the blog I sent her the following Kind and Gentle email.
Dear Ms Dorey,
In your blog post "The HCCC � don't confuse them with logic #1 � Health Education" of August 9,You say:
"Peter Bowditch from the Australian Skeptics, has several websites, one of which is dedicated exclusively to vaccination. On this site, not only does Bowditch link to many media stories and articles about vaccination, but he specifically gives medical advice to all who come to view his page. His advice is that everyone MUST vaccinate in no uncertain terms and his lack of information on either the necessity of vaccination for every person and his refusal to inform about any potential side effects is in opposition to the NH&MRC's rules governing the responsibility to allow for fully informed choice regarding this issue".
I am not the Australian Skeptics. Yes, I started The Millenium Project as a reaction to your vile organisation but I did it several months before I ever knowingly met anyone from Australian Skeptics. You have been told this before, so why do you keep repeating the lie?
I have only one web site, and a part of it is devoted to pointing out the lies told by anti-vaccination campaigners.
Nowhere do I say that everyone must vaccinate.
There are several links on my site to Australian Government literature mentioning possible adverse reactions to vaccines.
But why go on enumerating the untruths? It is obvious that you could not tell the truth under torture, so pointing out your lies about me is useless. Still, that won't stop me in the future.
I posted this reply to the blog but my words have not yet appeared. I assume that this is an oversight and you will allow the comment to appear, in accordance with your often stated commitment to free speech.
AVN and OLG&R (28/8/2010)
Do you remember how the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing had asked the Australian Vaccination Network to show cause why OLG&R should not take action over the AVN operating without a valid charity registration and collecting funds which were not passed on to where they were supposed to go? AVN were given 28 days to respond, but they have apparently been too busy lying about the benefits of influenza, measles and chickenpox to get the paperwork done.
I always try to be helpful, so I sent this kind and gentle reminder email to Meryl Dorey at AVN:
Dear Ms Dorey,
This is just a reminder in case you have been busy and forgot, but your response to the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing was due last week. You know, where you had to explain why AVN kept asking for charitable donations for two years after your registration had expired and why you said that you were collecting for Bounty Bags when the people who distribute the bags had never heard of AVN and wouldn't want your propaganda in them anyway.
Just as an aside, the charities collecting for flood victims in Pakistan have put a very high priority on vaccination. Are you going to issue a media release criticising this approach and suggesting that donations only be made to organisations which promise not to vaccinate children. You did this for both the Aceh tsunami and the Haiti earthquake, so I look forward to you being consistent in your attempts to deny life-saving assistance to the victims of natural disasters.
AVN begging again (4/9/2010)
Yet again, Meryl Dorey from the Australian Vaccination Network is asking people to give her money. This time it's for the $150,000 that some lawyer needs to mount a case against the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission. You can read Ms Dorey's plaintive cry for funds here. You will notice that she mentions two previous occasions on which the HCCC was apparently found to have been operating in a manner which did not meet with her approval, or as she puts it "seems to have a long history of being partial to the medical profession whilst coming down hammers and tongs against those in the natural health arena".
She then goes on to give two examples which she describes as "The Walker Inquiry into the HCCC - available here; and the inquiry into the HCCC's botched investigation of Graeme Reeves - found here, are but two examples".
I have for a long time called for a dump truck of salt rather than a pinch when assessing anything said by Ms Dorey, so I can safely report that the "Walker enquiry" was not "into the HCCC", but was a "Special Commission of Inquiry into Camden and Campbelltown Hospitals". The HCCC certainly came under criticism, but it was not for "being partial to the medical profession" and had absolutely nothing to do with "those in the natural health area". The legislation covering the HCCC was subsequently changed to clarify how the Commission should act in similar circumstances in the future. Strike one.
The "botched investigation of Graeme Reeves" again had nothing to do with "those in the natural health area" and the criticism of the HCCC was simply that they had acted according to the law as it stood at the time and had not taken any action against Dr Reeves because he had already been deregistered. Strike two.
In summary, Ms Dorey didn't like the way that the HCCC followed up a whistleblower complaint by going after the source of the problem, the poor management staff and systems of hospitals, rather than attacking individual doctors working within the system, and she didn't like the way they couldn't take action against a deregistered doctor. There was no protection of real doctors and no mention of alternative "medicine" practitioners. If those are the best cases against the HCCC she can find then she might need a lot more than $150,000 to pay lawyers to take them on.
Of course, she could always just run the requested (not ordered) notice on her web site for a few weeks and then get on with the business of harming children, but that would not fuel the conspiracy claims and paranoia.
Another thing she might like to do is be a bit more specific when she cites court cases. Justifying the $150,000 she says:
In speaking with many other organisations and seeking out the best possible legal advice, we have discovered that this is not the first time the HCCC has stepped outside of its jurisdiction to persecute a non-profit organisation. There is another group who was in our situation less than a decade ago.
They fought against the HCCC - all the way to the Supreme Court. And they won! It cost them $150,000 - but they got every cent back and more because the court found that the HCCC had acted outside of its jurisdiction when they tried to prosecute this organisation.
I don't know which Supreme Court she might be talking about, but I checked the records of cases with the HCCC as defendant in the New South Wales Supreme Court, and there doesn't appear to be anyone who won against the HCCC, let alone " got every cent back and more because the court found that the HCCC had acted outside of its jurisdiction when they tried to prosecute this organisation". In fact, there were no cases involving any organisation, all were cases involving individual doctors. Could Ms Dorey be mistaken? Could this be Strike Three?
AVN borrowing (or is that stealing?) (4/9/2010)
This week's newspaper story about the Australian Vaccination Network doesn't concentrate on those pesky government departments like the HCCC or the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing, or even those annoying "septics", and not even the kids catching preventable diseases because of the AVN's activities. This story started off by saying:
Copyright breaches land group in trouble
September 1, 2010
An anti-vaccination group is under fire for allegedly breaching copyright laws by selling newspaper and medical journal articles online without permission from the authors.
The Australian Vaccination Network, which was the subject of a public warning issued by the Health Care Complaints Commission last month, withdrew 11 information packs from its website yesterday after complaints from authors.
The packs, which were selling for up to $128, included home-made books filled with articles photocopied from journals around the world, information on drugs taken from MIMS, the medical guide used by doctors and nurses, and copies of brochures inserted in medication boxes by pharmaceutical companies.
You can read the rest of the story in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Oh, and this is the first thing you see when you go to the AVN's web site, right at the very top of the first page:
What's that word I'm looking for? That's right - hypocrisy.
I thought that Ms Dorey might need some cheering up, so I sent her an email:
Dear Ms Dorey,
I noticed in the Sydney Morning Herald this morning that you and the AVN have fallen foul of people whose work you republished in your information packs without asking their permission. I realise this must have been an oversight, much like the way you forgot to respond to the OLG&R last week.
If it helps, all my work on The Millenium Project is covered by Creative Commons, so you are welcome to republish everything at https://ratbags.com/rsoles/comment/avn.htm, provided of course that you acknowledge the source.
On another matter, a lawyer friend of mine has suggested that it is unproductive for you to continually accuse the HCCC of corruption. You won't win any friends there doing that.
Why won't this woman shut up? (25/9/2010)
Newspapers like to have these weekend magazines to justify paying twice as much for the Saturday paper as you pay during the week. Sometimes these magazines actually justify buying the paper just for themselves, but last Saturday's Northern Star coming out of Lismore NSW was an exception. The cover story in their weekend magazine was about Meryl Dorey, erstwhile president of the Australian Vaccination Network. This was a bit of a surprise, as the Star has been running articles critical of Dorey and her campaign to endanger children for some time now, so it looks like the magazine has different editorial policies to the paper itself.
The article pretended to present two opposing points of view, Dorey's and the mother of a child who died as a result of the local success of Dorey's actions. The heading on the page said "The immunisation debate" as if such a debate really existed. There is no debate, just a pack of science-denying loons telling people that vaccinations are dangerous and arguing against real doctors and scientists who know what they are talking about. It is just as much a debate as the ones about geocentrism or creationism - it is the demented versus reality.
Ms Dorey managed to repeat the lie that she has been subjected to death threats. As the people she accuses are easily identified, why has she not gone to the police with her claims? She again abused the memory of Dana McCaffrey by suggesting that the child didn't die of whooping cough. (Ms Dorey tried to get a copy of Dana's medical records the day before the baby's funeral.) She drags her perfectly healthy twenty-year-old son into the argument by whining about a rare but recognised effect of a particular vaccine, a reaction from which he completely recovered to a vaccine that is no longer used. At least she didn't deny that pertussis can be fatal, a claim she bizarrely made in a television show about Dana's death. (That's right - in a show about a death from pertussis she said that nobody ever died of pertussis!)
The last two paragraphs of the article show the writer's bias. "Amid the propaganda, vested interests and conflicting information on both sides, there must be an absolute truth. But how can we know for sure, until all the information is put on the table?"
There is an absolute truth - vaccinations save lives. There is another absolute truth - the people who oppose vaccination tell lies. The information is on the table, but unfortunately so is a pile of misinformation coming from outfits like the Australian Vaccination Network. And that pile stinks like the ventilator on a cesspit. Another absolute truth is that children will be safer when the only publicity given to organisations like the AVN is the ridicule they deserve.
The Northern Star removed the article from their web site, but you can see it here.
Check your gag reflex (2/10/2010)
The following conversation took place on the Australian Vaccination Network's Facebook page (from which I am banned, of course). "Australian Vaccination Network" is Meryl Dorey, once the president of AVN and Dear Leader to the membership. You will notice the complete lack of morals and ethics exhibited by the writers, whose only concern is how efficiently they can spread lies.
The flier they want to distribute by deceitfully putting it in magazines and doctors' offices is one of the most unhinged documents I have ever seen out of the anti-vaccination liar movement. Its one advantage is that it condenses into two pages almost all of the standard lies and misquotations. It is a wonderful example of how deranged these people are, but that is of no use if it gets into the hands of new parents in hospitals and other places where people can reasonably expect to find truthful material about medicine. You can see the flier by clicking on the image below but beware - don't wear good clothes, put the animals outside so you don't kick them and read it in the bathroom because it's easier to get vomit off tiles than it is off carpet.
You will notice that the final suggestion is to slip the garbage inside copies of the free parents' newspaper Sydney's Child. This magazine caused Ms Dorey much angst and paranoia last April by refusing to run an advertisement for the AVN.
Of course I couldn't help myself, and the following email went off to the paper. It was copied to Ms Dorey in case she thought that I had forgotten her.
Subject: Possible attempt to pervert your message
Date: Tue, 28 Sep 2010 13:59:31 +1000
You might be interested in the attached flier, not because of its content (which goes against everything that Sydney's Child stands for) but because a suggestion was made today on the Australian Vaccination Network's Facebook page that people should print out copies and insert them into copies of Sydney's Child at distribution points. (I have also attached a screen shot of the AVN Facebook entry.)
As the paper has refused to carry advertising for the AVN I am sure you would be outraged at this attempt to pervert your paper and use it as a means of distributing propaganda aimed at endangering the lives of children.
All in all it's just another kick in the nuts (16/10/2010)
No, I'm not being rude. The nutcases at the Australian Vaccination Network have been kicked to the kerb by the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing, who have revoked the AVN's status as a charity. The whining coming from the AVN sounds like a test cell at the Rolls Royce jet engine factory, but where I am it's being drowned out by applause, laughter and the clinking of glasses. Here is how the OLG&R announced the decision in the Government Gazette (and you don't get any more official with an announcement than that):
CHARITABLE FUNDRAISING ACT 1991
Instrument of Revocation
Australian Vaccination Network Inc
I, the Hon. KEVIN GREENE, M.P., the responsible Minister for the purposes of the Charitable Fundraising Act 1991, do hereby revoke the authority to fundraise issued to Australian Vaccination Network Inc on the following grounds as set out in section 31 (1) of that Act:
KEVIN GREENE, M.P.,
Minister for Gaming and Racing,
Minister for Major Events
and Minister for Sport and Recreation
And here's the letter to the AVN telling them the bad news.
The important portions are the reasons given for revocation (the letters relate to the clauses in the relevant legislation)
The Organisation has failed to publish a disclaimer on its website as recommended by the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC). This has resulted in an unacceptable risk of potential donors to the Organisation being misled when making a decision whether or not to make a donation, which has led to appeals not being conducted in good faith.
The Organisation's website is misleading in that it may lead people making donations to believe that they are donating to a cause which promotes vaccination whereas the Organisation adopts an anti-vaccination position. When requested by the HCCC to publish a disclaimer on its website the Organisation failed to do so.
The failure of the Organisation to comply with the HCCC recommendation resulted in the Commission publishing a Public Warning on 26 July 2010 advising that this failure "poses a risk to public health and safety". In this circumstance it is in the public interest to not permit the Organisation to conduct fund raising appeals under the Act.
It would be unfair of me not to let Meryl Dorey put her point of view (a privilege she denies to me in any forum she controls), and you can read her comments and media release here.
In a later correspondence, Ms Dorey claimed that she had several lawyers lined up to take on the authorities. Perhaps one of them could explain to her that there is no proposed ban on the AVN accepting donations, but they can no longer claim to be a charity. She should also get the lawyers to explain the ramifications of issuing a media release which makes the following claims about people who are easily identified:
Australia still has some dangerous defamation laws and if you are going to go around accusing people of making death threats or attacking advertisers then you should either have some very good evidence, a large amount of money or a desire to sell your house and live in your car. There were no attacks on advertisers, there were no threats made against advertisers, there were no death threats (if there were, why have the police not become involved?), hate mail is free speech (have a look at what AVN members have sent me, Ms Dorey), you hang up on abusive phone calls and killfile abusive emailers (Ms Dorey has stated that emails from me go unread) and it is the right of any citizen in a democracy to complain to government agencies. In this case, those complaints were upheld.
And I just had to write:
Subject: The OLGR! Oh, what a day.
Date: Thu, 14 Oct 2010 23:53:10 +1100
Dear Ms Dorey,
Thank you for making my day. I had been feeling a bit down, too much work, not enough time, you know how it is.
Then I heard the news. Imagine how easy it would have been for you to run the HCCC notice and respond to the OLG&R when they asked, but, no, you stood your ground, and look where it got you.
I have to admit that one of my proudest moments last year was when I first advised the OLG&R of your lapsed charity registration. I'll just go back and have a look at it again.
Here it is at https://ratbags.com/rsoles/history/2009/05may.htm#30avn
Isn't that nice? Doesn't it make you feel good? I know it makes me feel good.
As well as making me feel good, I have to thank you for saving me some time. The Millenium Project is writing itself this week and the many thousands of people who read the site each day will have an extra frisson of glee next week when they read about the latest adventures of the AVN.
By the way - if you aren't "anti-vaccine" could you please tell me which vaccines in the current schedule should be given to children. Only someone who is "anti-vaccine" would say "None of them", so let's see how honest you are when you say that you do not oppose all vaccines against all diseases when given to any person at any age. Come on, you can be honest, can't you?
Your happy friend,
I feel threatened. (30/10/2010)
The following exchange occurred on the Australian Vaccination Network's Facebook page this week. I had to read it vicariously, of course, as I am banned from participation.
Sulphuric acid to the face I can take, but those televisions being thrown into thoraxes. Now there's something to worry about. By the way, have I mentioned recently that members of the AVN have been complaining about death threats? I gave up buying irony meters long ago because I live in a rented house and the landlord kept complaining about damage to the walls when the meters exploded.
Just a reminder (6/11/2010)
Meryl Dorey, erstwhile president of the Australian Vaccination Network, has been overseas at a child endangerment conference and might have been neglecting to keep her diary up to date. To jog her memory, here is something that the New South Wales Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing said:
Revocation of Australian Vaccination Network's Authority to Fundraise
Minister for Gaming and Racing, the Hon Kevin Greene MP, has revoked the fundraising authority formerly held by the Australian Vaccination Network Inc (AVN).
An investigation by the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing, a division of Communities NSW, found that AVN had breached charitable fundraising laws and potentially misled the public.
The revocation, which took effect on Wednesday 20 October 2010, means that AVN is no longer licensed to conduct fundraising appeals in NSW and is not entitled to accept donations from members of the public via any method of collection including face-to-face and online appeals. AVN is not prevented from receiving donations from its members as this is not considered fundraising for the purposes of the charitable fundraising legislation.
The OLGR investigation also took into account the findings of the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) which established that the website operated by AVN provided information that was solely anti-vaccination as well as information that was incorrect and misleading.
The HCCC has published a public warning stating that AVN's failure to post a disclaimer on its website may result in members of the public making improperly informed decisions about whether or not to vaccinate posing a potential risk to public health and safety.
The revocation by the Minister is subject to an appeal lodged by AVN in the Administrative Decisions Tribunal and is listed before the Tribunal on 10 December, 2010
Just to keep Ms Dorey up to date, here is a gentle reminder.
Hey, Ms Dorey - you have only
until you have to convince the
It would have been so much easier to simply display the notice requested by the HCCC and then get back to killing children, wouldn't it? You could have avoided all this bad publicity and just gone quietly about your business of providing irresponsible and dangerous medical advice to people who don't know any better.
AVN and the truth. Total strangers. (11/12/2010)
I haven't mentioned the Australian Vaccination Network recently, so I thought I would do a quick check to see if by some strange disruption to the fabric of the universe there might be some truth coming out of the organisation. The following message appeared on the AVN's Facebook page on December 4:
You will note the quite clear implication that the Australasian College of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine has a list of doctors who will not vaccinate children. Acting on the reasonable assumption that statements made by the AVN's media spokesperson often require independent verification, a friend of mine wrote to ACNEM to ask for confirmation. The reply included the words:
Thanks for bringing this to our attention. As you can probably imagine, we are aware of the issues surrounding the AVN. However, we were not aware of the recent mention of ACNEM you found on the AVN blog.
The blog comment is inaccurate, in that appearing on the ACNEM 'find a practitioner' listing does not imply a particular view on vaccination. For a practitioner to appear on our listing, them must, 1) be a full or associate member of the College, and 2) have attended the Primary Course. As you are probably aware, the Primary Course addresses nutritional and environmental biochemistry relating to many common conditions, not vaccination. Unfortunately, to suggest that a proportion of ACNEM members might stand aside from the GPII immunisation program implies that this may relate to the teaching or policies of the College which is obviously not the case.
ACNEM does not currently have a College position on vaccination, other than to encourage people to discuss the issues with their doctor with a view to arriving at an informed decision, primarily because the issues are multiple, complex and prone to misunderstanding. However, the Board remains abreast of the subject and is investigating whether such a position statement is practicable.
Regarding the comment on AVN's blog, I will advise the Board, and thank you once again for bring it to our attention.
Imagine that. The AVN were claiming support from someone who didn't really agree with them. I wonder how many other organisations have been unwittingly connected to the AVN's perverse agenda to harm children.
A few years ago there was a suggestion by the Australian federal government that everyone be issued with a smart card containing some details of their medical history. For various reasons, some related to privacy, some to technology and some to paranoia, the idea never went ahead and the system was retained where we can optionally carry a card that can only be used by certain medical practitioners and then only for the purpose of participation in the national subsidised medical care system. It is not a legal form of identification and cannot be requested by anybody outside the system. Australians have accepted this and nobody seems too frightened by it.
I mentioned paranoia about the proposed smart card, and Meryl Dorey from the AVN wasted no time in rushing to the barricades. In a missive predictably titled "Australia's Big Brother Card" she said, inter alia:
To me, the scariest thing about the health smart card, is that it is only the beginning. The next and most logical step is the use of microchips which will contain all of the same information contained on smart cards but which will be injected into us and read and updated from a distance.
Now, before you start to think that this would never happen and that it's all a bit too much like science fiction, be aware that as of January 1999, the NSW State Government has mandated that all domestic animals be injected with a microchip which would identify them. Pet owners don't have a choice - they must do this by law or face fines.
And how are these chips being put into the family dog or cat? Why, through their vaccines, of course. These microscopic chips are nothing more than contactless health smart cards.
How long will it be before you or your child receive this "gift"� from the government? They will sell it to us as a gift too. You will no longer have to worry about robbery because nobody will be carrying cash - this chip will contain your bank details so you can pass your hand over a reader and have the amount of your purchase automatically deducted from your account. Your child will never have to worry about getting lost because they will have an indelible identification mark which would have been inserted at birth. It's all so exciting, don't you think?
Animal microchips are inserted with vaccines? No, they are not. Yes, the microchips are injected, because that is the safest way to get them into the dog, but they are not in vaccines and never have been. In any case, as Cody The Religion Hating Dog pointed out to Ms Dorey just before he was banned from the AVN Facebook page, microchipping of animals doesn't seem to have caused any harm. And as for the prediction that children will be microchipped at birth, well, I did mention paranoia, didn't I? And on the subject of Ms Dorey claiming support from people who have never heard of her, she cites Australian privacy expert Dr Roger Clarke (although she misspells his name). I know Roger Clarke and I have no reason to believe that he has ever supported the aims of the AVN or agreed with the bizarre idea that a health smart card was the top of a slippery slope to a microchipped population. (He was opposed to the health card, but for much more prosaic reasons.)
I wonder when we can expect any truth in any statement from the Australian Vaccination Network.
Even pentothal won't get the truth from an anti-vaccinator (18/12/2010)
My friend Ken McLeod (joint winner of the 2010 Thornett Award for the Promotion of Reason) has spent some time examining statements made by Meryl Dorey, erstwhile President of the Australian Vaccination Network, with particular attention to veracity and truthfulness. He found little of either, and has gathered his findings into a booklet which not only examines many of Ms Dorey's claims, but provides copious evidence of their inaccuracy. Click on the picture below to start reading, and note with anticipation that it says "Part 1". There is more to follow.