On 27 June 2013 Richard Di Natale presented information about vaccines and lobby groups in the Australian parliament that was false and misleading. This misinformation has been used to introduce mandatory vaccination in social welfare policies, childcare policies and employment situations in Australia. The false and misleading information provided by Richard Di Natale includes the following claims:
- ‘Alongside measures such as access to clean water, sanitation and improved air quality, vaccination is one of the most successful and cost-effective public health interventions in human history.’
This statement is false. It was the improved public health infrastructure – clean water, sanitation, nutrition and improved air quality – that led to the significant decline in all infectious diseases before most vaccines were developed or used in mass vaccination programs. Here are the comments from all the public health authorities of the 20th century.
Further, Richard Di Natale has ignored the significant harm that vaccines are causing in the population to make this claim and there is no transparent data that shows the government’s estimate of this risk in the assessment of the cost-effectiveness of vaccines. This is critical knowledge in the implementation of a medical intervention in the population and yet it has not been provided to the public, doctors or to politicians to support this claim.
- ‘…a program of vaccination completely eradicated smallpox by 1979.‘
A smallpox vaccine was used for 150 years before the disease was eradicated in 1979 and this did not occur until after the public health reforms were put in place in the mid-twentieth century. Clean water, sanitation, nutrition etc were implemented by 1950 and this allowed case tracing and the isolation of smallpox cases to be used to eradicate this disease.
This was only possible because of the specific characteristics of the smallpox virus. There is no other infectious disease that has been eradicated and the vaccine could not have been fully responsible for its decline because many vaccinated people still got smallpox and because there was only enough vaccine for ~50% of the global population (Ch 7 PhD thesis).
- ‘Australia in particular is a vaccination success story‘
Di Natale mentions the use of polio, tetanus and diphtheria vaccines but none of these vaccines were used in mass vaccination campaigns in Australia until after 1950 when the deaths and illnesses to all infectious diseases significantly declined – not just the infectious diseases for which there were vaccines.
After this time the non-serious cases of infectious diseases were no longer being monitored – including measles, whooping cough and influenza – because they were no longer considered diseases of serious concern to the majority of Australians (The Commonwealth Year Book of Australia 1953).
A measles vaccine was not introduced in Australia until 1969 and it was not recommended in the national program until 1975 yet from 1950 – 1975 (25 years) measles was not considered a serious threat in developed countries and deaths to measles were extremely rare and dependent upon the socio-economic and constitutional factors of the individual.
- ‘All of these potentially life threatening diseases are now rare but not unheard of in this country.’
Di Natale claims this occurred around 1981 after the measles and mumps vaccines were introduced in Australia. This is not true. This statement was made by all the public health officials in Australia in 1950. Deaths to these diseases were rare by 1950 and measles and whooping cough were removed from the National Notifiable Disease List at this time. This is why there is no data on the incidence of these diseases in the Australian community until the late 1980’s.
Deaths to infectious diseases were rare by 1950 and any role that the vaccines have played in reducing the incidence of these diseases in the community is not clear because the government does not provide the number of vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals getting these diseases. This data would clearly demonstrate the effectiveness of vaccines in populations but it has never been provided by the Australian government, doctors or media to support these claims.
- ‘Children in Australia today are protected from many more diseases from chicken pox to human papilloma virus (HPV) thanks to safe and affordable vaccines.’
The Australian government has not provided evidence for the need for these vaccines as deaths to these diseases were rare when the vaccines were recommended on the NIP in 2007 (HPV) and 2013 (chicken pox). Both of these vaccines are linked to serious side-effects and autoimmune diseases that the government has not addressed. The Australian government has not quantified the risks associated with vaccines, that is, the type of adverse events and their frequency in the Australian population.
The other countries that Di Natale refers to that are ‘still experiencing the costs of these diseases….’ are the developing countries that do not have access to clean water, sanitation or nutrition.
- ‘..and that’s why it is so important that Australia continues to provide generous support to organisations such as the GAVI alliance which are committed to saving the lives of millions of children in developing countries ..’
The GAVI alliance is made up of pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology companies, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and many more private-public partnerships. All of these partners have equal input into the recommendations they provide to the World Health Organisation (WHO) for national vaccination programs recommended to all the WHO member countries. These are presented to the countries under global health policies.
In other words, the vaccine recommendations for global health policies are being provided to WHO member countries by organisations that make huge profits from their recommendations. This is a breach of the WHO charter to provide objective scientific advice on this medical intervention. Further, the majority of clinical research on the safety and efficacy of vaccines that is used by governments is being funded by the pharmacutical companies.
There is no independent body assessing this pharmaceutically funded research in Australia and Australian government vaccine advisory boards include many representatives with significant financial conflicts of interest with the vaccine manufacturers i.e. the pharmaceutical companies.
‘Indeed vaccination has been such a success in Australia that …… we forget what it’s like to suffer from the preventable infections we fought so hard to conquer.‘
Instead of providing the evidence for the effectiveness of vaccines in reducing the incidence of these diseases (i.e. the number of vaccinated/unvaccinated children getting these diseases) the government makes this unsupported claim about these diseases to explain the fact that many people are choosing not to vaccinate with some or all of the recommended vaccines. These people are choosing not to use some or all of the vaccines because the government has not demonstrated with evidence that the vaccines are beneficial to individuals or community health.
- ‘We are spared the horror of watching a child with whooping cough turn blue and suffer a seizure from a coughing fit...’
But we a not spared the horror of hundreds of thousands of children suffering seizures, encephalopathy, anaphylaxis, autism, asthma, allergies and many other chronic illnesses after vaccines. These are being described by Di Natale, doctors and politicians as a ‘coincidence’ after vaccines – despite the fact that pharmaceutical companies have associated this neurological damage as a side-effect to vaccines for 60+ years.
Why has the Australian government never investigated this direct correlation between the increasing chronic illness in children and the expanding vaccination program? This is the undone science that I have described in my PhD thesis.
Further, parents of these vaccine damaged children are ridiculed on thousands of social media blogs and twitter handles set up by high profile businessman Dick Smith’s Australian Skeptics Inc/ SAVN lobby groups. These pro-vaccine lobby groups are controlling the vaccination debate in the media, and journalists are being given false/fabricated information from these pro-vaccine lobby groups that is smearing the concerned community that wants to debate choice in vaccination: a situation that has always existed in this country right up until the pro-vaccine lobby groups gained access to our media and politicians in the 1990’s.
The official channels of authority in Australia are allowing these social media blogs and the mainstream media to defame academics/professionals and parents who want to debate the academic literature on children’s health and vaccines.
In addition, journalists are being encouraged by the health department to promote anecdotal evidence (one parent’s story) about their child’s experience with an infectious disease but journalists are encouraged to ignore and ridicule (as an ‘anti-vaxxer’) a parent whose child has suffered death or serious disability to a vaccine. This is the ‘false balance’ that the public are receiving in the mainstream Australian media.
- ‘We no longer encounter people on a daily basis whose limbs have been twisted by paralytic poliomyelitis’
But we are encountering a generation of children with a 5-fold increase in permanent and life threatening disease and disability and the Australian government has not investigated the combined program of 16 vaccines as a plausible cause of this disease.
The US Institute of Medicine (IOM) described vaccines as a plausible biological cause of the chronic illness we are seeing increase in children yet governments have never investigated this link with a properly designed inert placebo controlled study over a period of 6 months or more. This policy cannot be described as a ‘protective health policy for children’ until this science has been done.
- ‘….we should be celebrating the life saving innovation that has saved us and our kids from death and disease.’
This is an unsupported claim. Firstly, vaccines were not the main factor in controlling infectious diseases and secondly the claim makes the assumption that because one vaccine may be beneficial in providing temporary protection from an illness that all the recommended vaccines should be considered effective and necessary. This is a flawed and unsupported claim and it does not address the risks of vaccines.
This highlights the necessity to examine the risk/benefit assessment for each vaccine, the combination of vaccines and your own genetics before you decide to use all the recommended vaccines in yourself and your children.
- ‘The Australian Vaccination Network (AVN), misleadingly named, …….have styled themselves as providers of vaccine information.’
The AVN is exactly what they say they are – a grassroots consumer group made up from the concerned community wanting to maintain their right to choice in this medical procedure.
Since mass vaccination programs began in the 50’/60’s, vaccines have always been voluntary and the AVN is requesting that the Australian government justifies the mandating of 14-16 vaccines in social welfare, childcare policies and employment situations. The public wants to know why vaccines are being made mandatory in 2016 when there has not been any increase in the risk from these diseases?
The AVN is requesting that the government justifies these mandatory vaccination policies that will cause significant health problems to a percentage of children in the population. Yet Richard Di Natale falsely states that ‘their mission is to deter parents from getting their children vaccinated.’
Di Natale is hindering proper academic debate by misinforming politicians about the community’s concerns about these policies and by suggesting that the AVN is ‘dressing it (the information) up in the language of science‘ when the AVN is providing the science that is presented in government documents and in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. It is the mainstream media that is creating ‘fear and doubt‘ in parents about infectious diseases by using biased statistics (Ch 6 PhD thesis).
- ‘The AVN is fiercely ‘anti-vaccine’.
Again Di Natale is providing false information about this community group; a group that wants a debate on our right to choose how many vaccines we use in our own body. A right that has always existed in Australia with respect to vaccines and all other medications and Di Natale and his pro-vaccine lobby groups have not provided a reason for removing this right in 2016.
- ‘the claims made by the AVN …..beggar belief…….they continue to propagate outright myths about vaccines and their safety. They say that the MMR causes autism a claim that has been thoroughly and comprehensively debunked.’
This false information presented by Di Natale in parliament will cause significant harm to the Australian population because the MMR vaccine is plausibly linked to autism and the pro-vaccine lobby groups that are providing Di Natale with this information are ignoring the hundreds of studies, including signficant studies performed by the CDC that have linked vaccines to autism.
Di Natale must be held accountable for the misinformation he has provided on the risks of vaccines in parliament that is resulting in mandatory vaccination policies being implemented in Australia. Di Natale has misrepresented in parliament the information the AVN is providing to the public on the links between vaccines and autism, SIDs, whooping cough etc. He has taken the AVN’s information out of context to provide misinformation in the Australian parliament.
- ‘In 2001 the WHO estimated 158,000 deaths from measles. It is one of the leading causes of infectious diseases world-wide’.
Di Natale is providing misinformation to politicians about the severity of measles by not explaining to the parliament that these deaths are in developing countries not developed countries like Australia.
This is a seriously misleading statistic that Di Natale has provided because deaths to measles were very rare in Australia from 1950 onwards and there was no vaccine in Australia until 1970. Deaths to measles in Australia have been no more than 1 or 2 deaths per year since 1950 and these are a result of a complication of measles due to the special circumstances of the individuals.
Exposing a child to measles in a developed country like Australia is not ‘reckless, dangerous or fatal’ as Di Natale stated in the federal parliament and as a former doctor he should be made accountable for these false statements that are designed to make parents fearful of these diseases.
- ‘Di Natale describes the McCaffery’s experience with whooping cough disease in 2009’
The McCaffery case was described in many media articles in 2009 and the health department has encouraged parents to promote vaccines in the media by providing financial rewards for their efforts. Dick Smith’s pro-vaccine Australian Skeptics Inc/SAVN lobby groups have also provided awards of $1,000 to the McCaffery family for promoting the whooping cough vaccine to the public.
Other parents have also been paid fees by the health department, for e.g. Catherine Hughes, to provide their stories of their experience with a disease, but the media will not provide any information on the anecdotal evidence of the thousands of children that are damaged or killed by vaccines. This is false balance in the Australian media.
A false impression of the safety of vaccines is being promoted to the public by this biased reporting of vaccines designed by the health department. When parents attempt to debate the health department’s use of anecdotal evidence to promote vaccines, the pro-vaccine lobby groups accuse parents of ‘attacking grieving parents’. This is a mischievous way of denigrating concerned parents/academics and of intimidating them into remaining silent on this issue and not debating the use of anecdotal evidence in the promotion of vaccines.
This is a strategy that ensures that the benefits of vaccines are promoted constantly in the media and the risks of vaccines are removed and ignored.
- ‘In response to this disgraceful situation the group Stop the Australian Vaccination Network (SAVN) with the purpose of compbating this dangerous campaign.’
The SAVN facebook group was set up by Dick Smith’s Australian Skeptic Inc lobby group in 2009 after my research on the whooping cough vaccine (showing that the vaccine was ineffective in preventing whooping cough) was published in the Public Health Association of Australia’s (PHAA) newsletter in April 2009.
Dick Smith paid for a full page advertisement in the Australian newspaper promoting SAVN’s mission to close down the AVN – a grassroots consumer group that wants to debate children’s health. The SAVN lobby group was set up as an anonymous facebook group and it was used by many non-health experts to ridicule and abuse academics and parents who provided the academic literature showing the risks of vaccines. Many of the Australian Skeptics subscribers set up blogs that defamed and ridiculed any community member who provided information on the harm caused by vaccines in individuals.
These individuals included Daniel Raffaelle, Peter Bowditch and Ken McLeod who Richard Di Natale defends in the Australian parliament. They do not have any qualifications in health or vaccination science and they have harassed and intimidated the AVN and myself with abusive comments in emails and by falsely representing our comments on blogs and in the mainstream media and to the NSW HealthCare Complaints Commission (HCCC). Richard Di Natale is continuing the harassment and denigration of the concerned community by defending these disreputable individuals in the parliament with false information.
The University of Wollongong (UOW) also permitted these SAVN/Skeptic subscribers to make vexatious complaints to the University about my vaccination research that resulted in unnecessary investigations whilst I was a student. These bloggers were given disclaimers about my research with the university logo, without my knowledge, that were used in the media to provide false information about my research.
Peter McIntyre, the former director of the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) provided false information about my research in the Australian media from January 2016 until – September 2018.
- ‘Dana McCaffery was too young to receive the whooping cough vaccine she died though because the vaccination rate in the Northern Rivers area of NSW where she’s born is alarmingly low at only 70% when you reach a threshold at that level the conditions for an outbreak occur and the virus (in fact whooping cough is caused by a bacteria not a virus) was only able to thrive in that community because the vaccination rates were so low.’
There is no evidence to support this claim. The historical research shows that 30% of children that get the whooping cough vaccine still get whooping cough. Richard Di Natale has provided an assumption about vaccines and the this region of NSW that is not supported by any scientific evidence.
- ‘They (the AVN) are the consequence of an irresponsible campaign based on fear and lies’.
It is the mainstream media and the information provided by Richard Di Natale himself in parliament that is responsible for perpetuating a campaign about infectious diseases that is based on fear and lies. This has been provided by non-objective sources of information.
Richard Di Natale’s suggestion that ‘he does not know what motivates them (the AVN)‘ is a sad indictment on the state of Australian politics.
- ‘All of that can be forgiven but the tactics they have used to spread their message of fear and doubt to unsuspecting parents are abhorrent.’
This is the pot calling the kettle black. The role of politicians is to listen to the concerns of the community, not to misrepresent them and ignore their serious concerns on an important health topic. It is time for Richard Di Natale to be made accountable for this blatant disparagement of parents who are requesting an open and transparent debate on children’s health.
His claim that ‘because of the potential for harm we have rules about misleading medical claims’ applies to himself as a former medical practitioner and politician, and the Australian public will ensure that he is made accountable for this incredible attack on parents that he has made in the Australian parliament. It could be a fatal decision if parents listen to his misinformation and this needs to be addressed with open debate not censorship and false balance by the Australian media.