For the last week, members of the NSW Parliament have been debating (if you want to call it that) the passage of a Bill (The Health Legislation Amendment Bill 2013) which will provide the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) – a government body which already has an incredible amount of power – the ability to once again ‘investigate’ the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN). The language used by some of our elected representatives during this debate was bizarre and shocking. As one mother of eight – six of whom are vaccine-injured said when a member of the hate group, Stop the AVN gleefully told her to watch an online video of the parliamentary debate on this bill:
It was hard enough to read the hansard, so I think I might just give the video a miss. All I was thinking when I was reading these scornful and derisive comments, is these people do not even care that my children and thousands of other children have been hurt by vaccines. They are just acceptable collateral damage to them, invisible, voiceless and expendable. Why would you take such pleasure in sharing, what to me is really just a bunch of bullies gleefully putting the boot in to parents like me and the only advocacy group that my children have in this country? Do we not deserve to have a voice in society, or are we just supposed to shut up and tend to our children’s wounds in silence? In a lot of ways the AVN is a victims support group, a place for victims of vaccine injuries and deaths to come and find support and comfort. A place we can share our stories so that other families can learn from our tragedies and we can finally be heard. Why would you want to take that away from us?
And did I say bizarre? Read this gem from the Hon Paul Green:
“… I can remember immunising my own child but my wife would not let me do any more of our children after that. It is such a cute moment when the needle goes through the fatty thighs of a two-month old child. It is like a hot knife through butter as the needle slides in so sweetly.”
And this statement by The Hon Catherine Cusack, is a typical example of how poorly-informed some of these representatives are about the AVN:
I understand that NSW Fair Trading has ordered the Australian Vaccination Network to change its name. That order has been appealed and it is now being considered by the Administrative Decisions Tribunal. I wish it well. I point out to the Health Care Complaints Commission and the Minister for Health that irrespective of NSW Fair Trading’s success it will not be enough. The network will continue its activities and the Government must do whatever it can to protect the lives of our defenceless babies and small children. I call on the Health Care Complaints Commission immediately to stop the Australian Vaccination Network spreading misleading information and I ask the media as a whole not to facilitate the dissemination of such dangerous messages to vulnerable parents who are already bombarded with confusing information and who somehow believe that the network’s role in the immunisation debate is evenly balanced. It is not.
What this amendment means
At the present time, the HCCC is one of only two bodies in Australia (to the best of my knowledge) which are not subject to subpoena or freedom of information claims. In other words, they have the power to make statements, carry out investigations and take actions without having to concern themselves with the sort of public scrutiny which other government departments normally work under. After all, government is supposed to represent the people and therefore, it should be accountable to them. Not so the HCCC however, and its arrogance and lack of accountability is obvious in its actions since losing to the AVN in the Supreme Court just over 12 months ago.
You see, the HCCC didn’t just lose their case – they had to admit that when it came to citing a small community organisation representing parents, many of whom have children who had suffered as a result of actions taken by the very doctors the HCCC was supposed to protect them against, they acted outside of the law (at a cost of potentially millions of taxpayer dollars). The Supreme Court stated in its decision that the HCCC had acted in an Ultra Vires manner when investigating or citing our organisation. In other words – it acted illegally.
Instead of going back and doing what it was set up to do – protect the public from dangerous doctors – the HCCC instead appealed to parliament, asking for more power specifically to get the AVN. This is not an exaggeration. It is a simple case of sour grapes, and the debate in Parliament and the statements made by representatives of both the Minister and Shadow Minister for Health as well as the head of the HCCC over the past few months have made this apparent. If the law didn’t allow the HCCC to attack community groups, well they would simply change the law.
But why? Why would an organisation comprising just over 2,000 members and representing a group of parents, many of whom had already suffered so badly at the hands of dangerous doctors, become a target for the very body that was set up to protect them?
It’s all about control – and the AVN is not the only target
When moving the second reading of this Bill, the Hon Melinda Pavey stated that:
This important amendment will mean that, if a health service provider is acting in a way that is likely to affect the clinical management or care of a client, even if there is no identified client who has been affected, then the Health Care Complaints Commission will have jurisdiction to investigate a complaint against the health service provider.
In other words, there doesn’t need to be any harm to anyone – just a suspicion that there might be harm. You are guilty until proven innocent and since the HCCC sets the definition of innocent – anyone who supports without question their drug and vaccine-based policies. Those of us who use or practice natural health or discuss the issues surrounding the dangers of drugs or vaccines is, ipso facto, guilty and must be stopped.
The AVN is the primary target but if they manage to squash us, you are next. Every chiropractor, homeopath, naturopath, Bowen therapist, Chinese herbal medicine practitioners, herbalist, nutritionist, acupuncturist, osteopath – the list goes on and on. Oh and, of course, all of their clients. Every one of you will be next – have no doubt about it.
Just read the recent articles about how Macquarie University has been pressured into dropping their chiropractic degree and just yesterday, it was reported that the so-called ‘Friends of Science in Medicine’ (more likely the opponents of anything that isn’t mainstream or drug-based) is now pushing to get insurance companies to allow an opt-out clause so that private health cover won’t encompass natural medicine.
So what are you doing to protect your right to practice healing? What are your associations doing? The time is very short and if you are silent now, there will be no one left to speak up for you soon.
Health consumers under the gun too
And it’s not just practitioners whose rights are threatened by this bill. The definition of a health service provider is now so broad – and the lack of a need for a ‘client’ or ‘harm’ so blatant – that anyone who discusses the issues of natural health publicly can potentially be cited by the HCCC. This can mean journalists, bloggers, teachers or even parents who discuss vaccination and natural health with other parents.
We could very well be in the final days of true democracy and freedom in health in Australia – and the eyes of the world are upon us, watching to see how we will handle these threats against not only our right to make informed health choices, but our ability to have a public conversation about the information surrounding health and natural health.
The ultimate victims, should this legislation pass, will be our children and our grandchildren whose parents sat by and did nothing while their legacy was ripped away from them.
Please don’t let that happen! No matter where you live in Australia, call and write to:
The Hon. Jillian Skinner, MP
Level 31 Governor Macquarie Tower
1 Farrer Place
SYDNEY NSW 2000
Phone: (02) 9228 5229
FAX: (02) 9228 5877
Dr Andrew McDonald, MP
Shop 18 Carnes Hill Marketplace
Corner Cowpasture & Kurrajong Roads
HORNINGSEA PARK NSW 2171
Phone: (02) 9608 8991
FAX: (02) 9608 0606
In addition, if you live in NSW, contact your local member of parliament. Go in to see them if you are able – but at the very least, call their office and ask them to vote against the Health Legislation Amendment Bill 2013. Tell them that your vote for them and for their party will depend on them doing this.
Health practitioners – organise your patients to do the same thing – and contact your associations and tell them that your continued payment of fees will rely on them taking immediate action on this bill in order to protect not only the association, but your practice and livelihood as well.
You can also take 30 seconds to sign this petition that was started on Avaaz yesterday a few days ago and which has already gathered over 3,000 signatures”
The AVN has stood firm for over 4 years under unrelenting attack by groups far more powerful than we are. We have done so because who we represent – the parents and children of Australia and those practitioners who are trying to help them – are too important to leave unprotected. Now, it’s our turn to ask for your protection – not just for us, but for what it will mean to everyone if the AVN were to be closed down by those who want to stop anyone who questions or is critical of drug-based medicine.