Meryl Dorey, Brett Smith, Tasha David and Greg Beattie at QLD Parliament

Below is the testimony that Greg Beattie, past President of the AVN, would have given had he not had his time unexpectedly shortened. If you would like to read the details of how the AVN was treated at this public inquiry at QLD Parliament, please click here to read the summary.

An interesting thing to note is that in the transcript of the hearing – and please remember that a transcript is supposed to be an exact record of what someone has said – someone either on the committee or employed by them changed the way in which Greg introduced himself. He said that he was a past President of the Australian Vaccination Network and the Transcript was changed to read, “I am a past president of what was then known as the Australian Vaccination Network…”

Someone there did not like Greg saying Australian Vaccination Network, though that WAS the name of the organisation previously, so they took it upon themselves to alter an official transcript!

Without further ado, here is Greg Beattie’s testimony:

I am a past president of the Australian Vaccination Network. I am also an author of two books on the issue. But I speak today as someone who, 20 years ago, challenged a government-run childcare centre that refused to accept my unvaccinated children. The very thing that this Bill promises to protect childcare centres from.

It can’t. This is the first point I’d like to make, and it’s a very important one so I’ll take a couple of minutes to explain. It would be extremely unfortunate if this Bill were to achieve the opposite of its intention, and invite childcare centres to do something which exposed them to, rather than protected them from, liability. But in my estimation, and that of the NSW government, that’s precisely what it will do.

NSW parliament debated an amendment identical to the Bill proposed here in 2013. It didn’t pass because the government recognised that it would expose childcare centres to challenge, and that that challenge would come via the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act – the same Act I used 20 years ago.

Advice from the attorney general confirmed that such a move would place childcare centres in breach of the Act, and that their state legislation was powerless to protect them from that. I’ll quote selectively from the Hansard record of that debate:

“The Government does not support the amendment…. Allowing childcare facilities to adopt their own policies …. is not supported by the childcare industry peak bodies. Public health experts, including the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance, have strong objections to such an ad hoc approach.”

“…the proposed amendment would open childcare facilities …. to claims that the facility is in breach of the Commonwealth anti-discrimination law.”

And on the capacity of the NSW public health Act to protect childcare centres from this challenge:

“Exemptions under a Commonwealth or State law apply only to actions taken in direct compliance with a prescribed law. The New South Wales Public Health Act is not a prescribed law under the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act.”

And in case you’re wondering, I’ve checked and the Queensland public health Act is also not a prescribed law.

So, in a nutshell, this Bill promises something it can’t provide. It invites childcare centres to make a decision, and promises to support them in that decision, but it cannot deliver on that promise.

Childcare centres WILL get challenges. They won’t come from me. My children have flown the coop. But there are 1000’s of others out there, ready and waiting. And if you want to meet some, come downtown on Sunday week. A rally against the proposed federal laws has been organised. The last one, a couple of months ago, was attended by several thousand. These are parents who are sick and tired of being pushed around, and are prepared to act.

The second point I’d like to make is that there is no imperative to legislate in this area.

Vaccination has not produced the tremendous benefits that its marketing machine would have us believe. It didn’t save us from the high death rates of the past. Measles deaths peaked in Australia at 175 per 100,000. A century later, when we were about to introduce a vaccine for it, that figure was down to 0.1. The deaths had declined by more than 99% before we started vaccinating for it.

Whooping cough similarly declined around 90%, and diphtheria about 80%, before we started vaccinating for them. But the marketing machine has given all the credit to vaccination. And most people have swallowed that.

Also, experts frequently claim that vaccination saves 3 million lives each year. But ask for the evidence of that and you’ll find they don’t have it. Just that so-and-so said so. And if you ask so-and-so they’ll tell you the same thing. If you’re persistent, and drill down to the source, you WILL find the answer:

“We modelled it on a spreadsheet. We started with the assumption that vaccination prevents 90-odd% of deaths. So we just added up all the vaccines given out and – there’s our figure.”

That figure is of course paraded as evidence of how well vaccination works. Which in turn appears to validate the assumption in the model. It’s called a feedback loop. There IS no empirical evidence. That’s vaccine science. And they wonder why people question it! But there are many more reasons people question it, as can be seen in our submission.

With my third and final point I’d like to make a recommendation to the committee. Given that this Bill will be counter productive, why don’t we try something new? Something daring. Discussion.

Last year a Healthy Lifestyles Expo was run on the Sunshine Coast. The organisers decided to include a short forum on vaccination, since the issue was topical at the time. They approached the state’s chief health officer, Dr Jeanette Young, who you heard from earlier today, as well as our organisation, to supply speakers for a debate. We accepted. Dr Young refused. Her reason – “there’s nothing to debate”. The organisers tried elsewhere, even publicising their request, but no one could be found to speak in support of vaccination.

Unfortunately this happens all the time. Ordinary citizens organise a forum so that the competing viewpoints can be aired publicly, but the pro side refuses to participate. They’ll only turn up if the so-called anti side isn’t allowed to speak. These are classic playground antics.

And who misses out? The public. Those who are trying to make sense of the opposing stories.

Dr Young should relish the opportunity to defend and promote vaccination. In fact, she should facilitate such forums.

This government can do something in this area. It could direct the health hierarchy to promote ongoing and open discussion. Have them encourage questions, concerns, and dissenting voices. Have them provide forums where the so-called anti side is actively INVITED to debate. Have them facilitate similar on-line discussions, as well. Show the community they’re not frightened of dissent. That they’re capable of having their claims publicly scrutinised.

And organisations such as ours should be welcomed, embraced, not demonised. We represent the concerns of the community. Engage us, and address the concerns publicly and cooperatively. Don’t ignore us, or bring a big stick out. That won’t chase us away. It will only galvanise us.

In this way the public will feel secure that the emerging information is robust.

For years our organisation has been subjected to almost every form of inquiry and government sanctioned intimidation you can think of. Why? Because we question vaccination. And we demand attention to our concerns. But we’ve prevailed. And we always will prevail because the reason for our existence is still there. Dissenting voices on vaccination are still being handled with playground antics.

This government, if it were to implement this sort of approach, could be a nation leader – in fact, a world leader – in resolving the divisiveness that this issue brings to our community.