I’ve changed my mind

They say it’s a woman’s prerogative. Making one decision and then, down the track, changing your mind. But everyone does it and it’s not necessarily a bad thing either.

Think about those words – changing your mind.

Brain CarvingTaken literally, they may sound a bit strange. They conjure up a scene of someone – an artist, perhaps, carving out a brain from hard wood and then, deciding at the last minute that something’s gone wrong and it might need a little bit of work here or there. A few hits with the hammer and chisel, being careful not to break it and have to start again.

That’s how my strange mind works and what I’ve visualised 🙂 But changing your mind is one of the many, many idioms that make the English language so difficult for non-native speakers to learn.

When it comes to vaccination, I started to change my mind 26 years ago.

Like many parents, I didn’t just decide blithely one day to stop vaccinating my son or my subsequent children. It wasn’t like taking my clothes out of the closet and deciding that the red top looked better with those pants than the blue one. I changed my mind because I saw that vaccines had hurt my child and, like most people who were trying to be the best parent they could, seeing that harm and having it confirmed by my doctor (who told me that he would leave out the whooping cough portion of my son’s next shot – something that isn’t even possible today!) made me start to search for more information about these shots I was giving my son.

And I didn’t change my mind that day or that month – or even that year.

Trying to be a responsible parent, I couldn’t decide until I had enough information about what I was doing.

In retrospect, I should have put off any further vaccines until I was fully informed, but the default position back in the late 1980s/early 1990s was to vaccinate so, I did.

It wasn’t until my son was hospitalised 10 days after his MMR vaccine (the most common time for certain reactions following that particular shot, as I found out later on through my research) that I decided enough was enough. And even then, I didn’t have enough information to stop vaccinating my children completely. My daughter received 3 DT (diphtheria and tetanus) and OPV (oral polio) vaccines and my next son got 3 OPVs. My youngest child is the only one who is completely unvaccinated.

By the time she came along, I had gathered together enough information and done enough research to completely ‘change my mind’ about vaccination. By then, my husband and I had both knowledge and confidence about our decision – it was a good place to be!

Many parents have stories that echo ours. Nearly everyone I know who started out totally committed to vaccinating (or just going along with it because it was the default position) but who stopped at some point, changed their mind because of either personal experience with vaccine reactions, reactions in a friend or family member or exposure to information that made them question and want to know more.

I am very proud of the fact that some of these people were able to find the information they needed because of the existence of the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN), the organisation I started way back in 1994. The AVN had and has many sister organisations:

VINE (Vaccination Information Network);

VISA (Vaccines Information Serving Australia);

VAIS (Vaccination Answers Informed Sources);

IAS (Immunisation Awareness Society);

VAG (Vaccination Awareness Group);

VIS (the Vaccination Information Service);

and the group started by Kerry Hamblin in the Blue Mountains in the 1980s that pre-dated all of the others and whose name escapes me (if anyone remembers, please let me know and if I’ve left any organisations off, I apologise – let me know and I will amend this).

When I originally had my change of mind, the internet was not as easily accessible as it is today. I got my information the old fashioned way – I visited medical libraries, copied medical journal articles, took them home and sat with my highlighter pen and read them through. I went to the medical library in Princeton, New Jersey. I visited the Library of Congress for one amazing day of obsessive reading, photocopying and research. I remember being afraid that those articles would weigh so much, I wouldn’t be able to take them home with me to Australia!

Parents that Don't Vaccinate

How times have changed. What used to take me hours and a lot of money at 10 cents a page to photocopy, is now nearly instant and free.

The AVN’s library contains hundreds of books and tens of thousands of journal articles dating back to the early part of the twentieth century – and even further back when it comes to the smallpox vaccine.

I – like most parents who have changed their minds about vaccination, nutrition and medical treatments – made my decision after a lot of thought and a lot of discussions with health professionals and natural therapists about these issues. I took my responsibility seriously.

And yes, like the artist in my earlier thoughts who changed the direction of his carving in hard wood with great difficulty, it was not easy for me to change my path or for my husband to do the same. We were your classic ‘true believers’ like most of our generation.

A belief and trust in doctors was hard-wired into our consciousness through years of medical shows, government pronouncements and social conditioning. But once we were empowered through our own research to understand that we could change our minds, the veil was torn away and we were able to see this situation clearly for what it was – a mass delusion that was built on quicksand and that needed bullying and lies to shore it up and keep it from sinking away forever.

understanding-understanding

If you are like I was – a true believer in vaccine safety, effectiveness and necessity – challenge yourself to read a bit about the other side of this issue. You may never change your mind or your beliefs, but at least you will come to understand that those of us who stopped vaccinating made that choice with valid information and out of love for our children. Understanding can overcome fear and hatred and right now, there is way too much fear and hatred going around regarding the issue of vaccination.

By Meryl Dorey

Please note: Blog posts are opinion pieces which represent the views of the authors. They do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of the nocompulsoryvaccination blog. This blog is a forum, support and information site and outlet for discussion about the relative benefits and risks of vaccinations in particular – and medical procedures in general. We do not provide medical advice but believe that everyone has the opportunity and the obligation to do their own research before making decisions for their families. The information we provide (including your personal review of the references we cite) should be taken in conjunction with a range of other data, including that obtained from government, your health care provider and/or other medical source material to assist you in developing the knowledge required to make informed health choices.

 

Vaccine Bigots

Reject BigotryPolitical correctness will be the death of us all. We’re so afraid to say what we think for fear of being judged, that we stay silent rather than starting a storm. But I say, if our words are going to create a storm, let’s make it the best and biggest storm we possibly can. Let the winds blow and the rains wash away this shameful era of world history.

Those who support No Jab / No Pay / No Play are bigots – pure and simple.

Whether they are members of parliament, media representatives or your next door neighbours – if they believe it is OK to discriminate against you and your family or to treat you with anything less than the respect all citizens of a democratic nation should expect, they are bigots.

Definition: Bigot: a person who has strong, unreasonable ideas, esp. about race or religion, and who thinks anyone who does not have the same beliefs is wrong.

Our government – elected and funded by US – is comprised of bigots.

Many within mainstream medicine are bigots.

And members of the hate groups, Friends of Science in Medicine, Stop the AVN and the Australian Skeptics are all bigots.

Watch this powerful short video about a woman who has decided that she is not going to put up with vaccine bigotry any longer. Like Rosa Parks did over 60 years ago when she was arrested for not moving to the back of a bus due to the colour of her skin, Sheila Ealey has decided to ‘get off the bus’. She will hopefully be joined by a lot more of us, standing in solidarity against discrimination of any kind – racial, sexual, religious or medical.

“Get off the bus!” Sheila Lewis Ealey unites Compton! from Francesca Alesse on Vimeo.

Bigotry must be stamped out. It is the sort of thing that you would have seen in many countries 50 or more years ago; the sort of thing we were taught about in school history classes as an object lesson in wrong-headedness and injustice; the sort of thing that we look back on now and think – that would never happen today!

Except that it has. And it has been government-approved.

When we see the leader of the Australian Greens party standing up in Parliament to thank people who have abused and threatened parents whose only ‘crime’ was wanting to care for their children as they feel is best – we know that vaccine bigotry has institutional support.

When we see someone who has made a name for themselves by publicly shaming or abusing those who think differently about vaccination, receiving government awards instead of jail sentences, we know that vaccine bigotry is systemic in our society.

And when we read media articles written by journalists who are functional illiterates yet feel that they have the right to tell the government how they should punish anyone who disagrees with them on scientific or medical health issues, we know that vaccine bigotry has pervaded the very fabric of Australian life today.

Let’s fight against this by first and foremost, calling these people what their words and their actions have defined them as – bigots. The language is powerful, so let’s use this weapon to defeat bigotry.

If we can be called anti-vaxxers for asking valid, scientific questions about medical procedures that are capable of killing or injuring us or our children (let’s not even think about the fact that vaccines don’t work as promised – or at all), then we can use a more appropriate name for those who are responsible for this sociopathic and discriminatory behaviour – BIGOTS.

Let’s wipe out bigotry in Australia today. By naming it. By shaming it. By not standing for it any longer.

 

Interview on 2CC Canberra: Ken McLeod and Meryl Dorey

Sherri Tenpennyby Meryl Dorey

As mentioned in the last blog post, Canberra Radio 2CC interviewed both Ken McLeod from Stop the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network (SAVN) and myself regarding the up-coming vaccination seminars with Dr Sherri Tenpenny.

SAVN admins appear to be a little bit embarrassed by Mr McLeod’s ‘performance’ on the program and the usually resourceful admins were unable to find the audio file for this interview. When a member of the Facebook group asked if Ken McLeod had been interviewed on 2CC, SAVN admin, Katie Brockie Kate Squires (correction by admin) replied:

It did indeed happen. Our own Ken McLeod was on as well, but was hoodwinked by Ms. Dorey’s appearance. Not sure if there’s a copy of audio. 

Well Katie, never fear! We have a copy of that audio and have transcribed it for your reading pleasure! And perhaps, while we’re at it, you can explain how I hoodwinked Mr McLeod when he was interviewed before me and was able to say whatever he wanted to say without interruption?

Freedom of speech? Not in their Australia!

SAVN has been trying their hardest to get Dr Tenpenny’s visa to enter Australia revoked and to bully the venues where she will be speaking to break their contracts to host these talks.

It is obvious, listening to Mr McLeod, that SAVN has no respect for personal rights or freedom of speech. He is also not above bending the truth in order to besmirch the reputation of the good doctor.

Below is a transcript of the interview which took place on January 7, 2015. I have provided a copy of the text to the presenter, Mr Rod Henshaw, and if he provides me with any corrections, I will be sure to update this blog. I do not believe there are any errors in this text however.

Interviewer: Rod Henshaw (R)

Interviewees: Ken McLeod (K), Meryl Dorey (M)

R:              A number of Australian doctors and expats … experts I should say, not expats. Well, maybe they’re expert expats, but a number of Australian doctors and experts are calling on the federal government to stop a prominent anti-vaccine campaigner from entering the country. Sherri Tenpenny is the author of the Saying No to Vaccine and is due to begin an Australian speaking tour in March, but Immigration Minister Peter Dutton is currently receiving advice on the issue, but Ken McLeod is from the Stop the AVN organisation. Ken, thanks for joining us.

K:              Oh, good afternoon Rod.

R:              Why shouldn’t we let Sherri Tenpenny into the country?iStock_000011256677XSmall

K:              She’s a very effective campaigner against vaccines and that’s not a good thing. She claims that vaccines are responsible for mass murders, including the Sandy Hook School massacre, that vaccines cause SIDS, autism, they disconnect the brain from the universe, etc, etc. We’re afraid that the end result of her tour is that some well-meaning parents will be conned. Sherri Tenpenny is not your average ratbag, she’s in a class of her own. We’re frightened that if enough parents are deceived the end result is misery, extra stress on the health department budgets, occasionally death and so on.

R:              But aren’t you underestimating the average intelligence of the average Australian in this case? I mean, aren’t you … there’s two questions I’ve got here, but that’s a first one. Are you … aren’t you assuming that the parents can’t pick and choose for themselves and work out what’s right and what’s wrong?

K:              You’re quite right. Most people, and I’m saying right up there in the 90% of the population can follow good advice, but there is that small number who can be dissuaded and that’s been proven in the statistics and that percentage of it is the number of people that we are worried about.

R:              But we do hear people from other walks of life coming out with totally outrageous things and we’ve heard it with Muslims in this current climate and all that sort of thing. Now, this doesn’t really differ too much from there because we can actually say well you’re an idiot, we don’t believe you, go back home if you want to and all this sort of thing, but at least we give them the right of free speech which you don’t seem to be willing to give … to extend to this person.

K:              That’s right. Yeah, it is a very difficult issue and I would say that your right of free speech ends where it has any effect on … an effect on the health of my children.

R:              Yeah, is that really the answer? You haven’t really answered the question. You’re saying she can’t come because we don’t agree with what she’s saying and you put a few very vibrant examples there, sure, I give you that, but still she’s surely entitled to express those opinions if she so desires and we’re so entitled that we can say bugger off, go home, we don’t want you and we don’t believe you, but let’s hear you first.

K:              Oh well, the problem is of course that in … what you might call an opinion is actually a disproven fact. She shares things that are clearly untrue, disproven by the science, and it wouldn’t matter if no one was hurt. So Australia has a proven track record of barring entry to people who can cause disharmony or endanger public health and I’m referring to Julien Blanc, the chap who ran seminars on how to seduce women and just use them for sex, David Irving, the Holocaust denier. We would say that Miss Tenpenny is up there in that league, but we do recognise that this is an incredibly difficult decision for the minister. We should … we are saying that the minister should, at the very least, deny Tenpenny a working visa, which mean that there would be no speaking fees, no payments, no entry fees, etc, etc.

R:              Okay, I am playing devil’s advocate with this, as you can probably tell (both laughing), but I am serious about the democracy thing, I mean, it reminds me of an old line out of one of those BBC television series, I forget which one, where they say democracy is fine, but why give it to the people? And it comes back to …

K:              (Laughing)

R:              … my original thing is couldn’t … shouldn’t we be …

K:              Yeah.

R:              … trusted enough to make our own minds up on this?

government-lies-truthK:              Yeah and that is the problem. I mean, if we’re discussing the existence of aliens and flying saucers and so on no harm is done, but where someone is using misinformation to persuade parents not to vaccinate their children and being very, very convincing about it, we think, you know, there’s a barrier there. There’s a bar that has to be brought down.

R:              Okay, well we’ll have to leave it there. We do have somebody from the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network, but I’ll put you on hold just in case you want to have a listen and we’ll go to her and then … but in the meantime I do thank you very much for your time this afternoon.

K:              Yeah, thanks Rod.

R:              Thanks Ken. Ken McLeod is the … from the Stop the AVN organisation and, as I mentioned, we do have somebody from basically the other side of the coin, if you like. Meryl Dorey is founder of the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network. Meryl, good afternoon.

M:            Good afternoon. Thank you.

R:              I don’t know how much you heard of that. Do you have a comment, a response?

M:            Oh, well I heard much of it. I don’t know how long Mr McLeod was on, but I heard some of the things that he claimed that Doctor Sherri Tenpenny was saying and it reminds me of a statement made by, I think his name is Goebbels, tell a lie long enough and often enough and it becomes the truth because what Mr McLeod was saying was not what Doctor Tenpenny has ever said. She has never claimed that vaccines cause mass murder, she’s never linked them with Sandy Hook, this is all just an attempt to smear her and personally …

R:              But can …

M:            … I think that if …

R:              Just before you go any further, I got to play …

M:            Sure.

R:              … devil’s advocate with this one too. How can you say she hasn’t said them? Can you prove that she hasn’t said those sort of things, those statements … made those statements?

M:            Well I’ve been following Doctor Tenpenny for over 20 years. She is above all an extremely moderate and intelligent person. All of her information comes from peer-reviewed journals. She has done over 20,000 hours of research in mainstream medical journals to gain the information that she shares with people who come to listen to her, so I would be very strongly … I would say very strongly that she’s never said any of those things. You know, if Mr McLeod has any proof of that let him prove it, let him show it.

R:              He seemed pretty …

M:            Until he does that …

R:              … straightforward and pretty strong with his views on that …

M:            He …

R:              … so I don’t think … I think … in fact, I would just suspect that in the court of law the defamation laws might come in if he’s wrong.

M:            Well, I hope they would too. I really do hope they would, because I don’t think that people have a right to tell lies about other people …

R:              That’s what I’m …

M:            … simply because ….

R:              That’s why I’m questioning whether he would actually go so … be so silly as to make those sort of statements if he couldn’t back them up.slander

M:            Oh, he’s done it before, so … I mean I have no doubt that he does not have the information to back that up. Like I said, let him prove it. If he proves it I will apologise and say sorry Ken, I was wrong, but I’m pretty confident that I won’t have to do that and what I want to say about this whole situation is that Australia is a democracy and in a democracy we have the right to disagree with each other, but we should also be defending others’ rights to say things that we disagree with. Australian parents are intelligent, they are very concerned about their children, they have every right and every ability to make these decisions for themselves after looking at both sides and asking appropriate questions from both sides. This …

R:              Meryl, it does come back … it’s incumbent on me to come back to say how can you prove that not vaccinating your children is going to be a good thing when we know so well that there is so many research papers and there has been so much documented evidence that kids do die unless they’re not vacc … unless they’re vaccinated?

M:            Okay, now first of all we have documented evidence as well. There is science on both sides and both sides … we don’t tell anyone that they shouldn’t vaccinate. Nobody tells anyone that. Doctor Tenpenny does not tell anyone that. All the AVN says is that there are risks and benefits to vaccination and it behoves all parents as responsible adults to get both sides of this information before making a choice for their children. The woman who is organising this series of seminars actually lost a child because of vaccination. My eldest child was vaccine-injured. Many parents who have chosen to look into this issue only did so after seeing one of their loved ones either die or suffer a serious reaction to a vaccination. We were not told that these things could happen. All the AVN is saying is that you need to get this information so that if your child has a reaction you know how to respond, you know what to do. You have a choice; vaccination is not compulsory. Everyone has the right to make this decision and it is wrong for any government, any medical community, to suppress, actively suppress, information that is sourced from peer-reviewed, mainstream medical literature that discusses the known risks and side effects …

R:              Well Immigration Minister …

M:            … of vaccination.

R:              Immigration Minister Peter Dutton is currently receiving advice on this issue, as I mentioned. How do you reckon he’ll go? Do you reckon …

M:            I have no idea.

R:              Do you think that there is a weight of evidence on the side perhaps of the people like Ken McLeod? And I will add that he is only one of a number of Australian doctors and experts who are calling on the government to stop her coming over here in the first place; it’s not just him.

M:            Okay. Ken McLeod is neither an expert nor a doctor. Ken McLeod is a member of a hate group called the Australian … Stop the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network. Their founder had an AVO order against them for making threats against myself for having phone calls coming from their home making threats against myself. This is the sort of organisation that they are dealing with. If the Minister for Immigration is making a judgement based on the law he will allow Sherri Tenpenny … Doctor Sherri Tenpenny to come to Australia. If he is making an emotional decision based on peer-pressure brought about by these people then he probably won’t and if he doesn’t it’s going to be a shameful situation for Australia. We should all have the right to speak our truth and people can listen to it. If they don’t want to … not listen to it if they don’t want to and they can also argue it and discuss it. I have been trying for many years to set up a public debate on this issue with everyone from the health minister on down and they continually refuse to present their information to the general public to let them make a decision. The parents of Australia are capable of doing this, they should be allowed to.

R:              Okay, you make a fairly strong argument. Then again, so does Ken, but as you say Ken has got to back that up and …

M:            Yes.

R:              … it’ll be interesting to see where it goes. So if he’s wrong and you’re right why don’t you serve him with a legal notice?

M:            Well, it’s not my name he’s smeared here, but I certainly think that Doctor Tenpenny would be interested in hearing what he has said, especially since she can prove that it’s not true and he has to prove that it’s true. He can’t just go about saying things like that without the proof to back it up.

R:              Yeah. It’s only one flaw there in Australian law … defamation law, truth is not necessarily a defence, that’s the trouble, but I think …

M:            Yeah.

R:              … you’re on the path there, you could be … it could be a very interesting result in court when both side … where both sides are presented accordingly.

M:            Thank you for the opportunity to speak here.

R:              Thank you Meryl.

M:            I appreciate it. Bye bye.

R:              Bye bye. Meryl Dorey, founder of the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network. On 2cc. It’s 3:42.

Please note: Blog posts are opinion pieces which represent the views of the authors. They do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of the AVN National Committee. The AVN is a forum, support and information organisation and outlet for discussion about the relative benefits and risks of vaccinations in particular – and medical procedures in general. We do not provide medical advice but believe that everyone has the opportunity and the obligation to do their own research before making decisions for their families. The information we provide (including your personal review of the references we cite) should be taken in conjunction with a range of other data, including that obtained from government, your health care provider and/or other medical source material to assist you in developing the knowledge required to make informed health choices.

Strangers to the Truth

By Meryl Dorey

Hi there, and hasn’t it been a long time since I’ve posted anything to this blog? That’s because I’ve been on a sabbatical in the U.S. with my sisters since the middle of August this year. I got back into Australia on December 18th and am settling back in, happy to be home (though not happy about the heat!).

I want to thank Stop the AVN (SAVN) and their mates at the Australian (Pseudo) Skeptics for waiting until my return to stir up trouble – it would have been terrible to have missed all the fun!

Now, I have a front-row seat to view the excitement and am enjoying seeing them lather themselves into a frenzy of terror at the idea that – shock, horror – parents may be able to hear a medical doctor provide referenced, scientific information demonstrating that vaccines don’t always work as expected and may cause harm and even death in an unknown number of those who take them.

The truth is being told”, says Jack Skeptic – “we can’t have that!”

No worries”, replies Jill Skeptic; “I believe in science, so we will pull in our tame pollies and journos and handle this situation quick smart!”

Giving Pinocchio a run for his money

13760385_sBut I have to say that there are a LOT of long noses appearing in SAVN’s camp.

As you probably have already heard, Dr Sherri Tenpenny is coming out from the U.S. to speak to parents about the risks and ineffectiveness of vaccines. (And if you support the right to free and open communication about this issue, I urge you to click this link and book your tickets to the seminar nearest you as well as the dinner with Dr Tenpenny.) These seminars will, according to SAVN, cause the end of the world as we know it and they must be stopped! SAVN have even gone so far as to approach the Minister for Immigration to demand that he cancel the travel visas of Dr Tenpenny and other speakers coming in from overseas. Incredible, I know; but these are the same people who approached the Minister for Immigration to try to get me deported a couple of years back because I question the medical mantra regarding vaccination. Unfortunately for them, I’m an Australian citizen, so things didn’t quite go as well as they had expected.

Bad publicity is good publicity

Publicity like this – even if most of it is negative – can’t be bought. And the constant shrill cries of “Cancel her visa – and off with her head!” from that lovely gang of terrorists has gotten even the most pro-vaccination among us scratching their heads and asking, “Why?”.

The truth hurts

First, I was approached by a producer at The Project – a programme with a long history of not reporting fairly on this subject. His name was James Pattison, and he said that he wanted to interview me regarding Dr Tenpenny’s speaking tour. I explained that neither I nor the AVN were organisers of these events, and that I could not comment on what would be covered at the seminars, but I would be happy to discuss the freedom-of-speech aspects. The only stipulations I had were that they devote more than the 2 minutes planned for the piece (since this is a serious issue and deserves more time to do it justice) and that the interview be live so that they couldn’t quote me or any of the other speakers out of context.

James checked with his higher-ups, and approval was given. In addition, we agreed, that he would get his supervisor to send me the list of questions prior to the crew arriving. A camera crew would be out just after 5:30PM to go live to air at 6:30 PM.

At 4:31 that afternoon, James left a message on my answering machine saying that they couldn’t go ahead with the interview. When I called him back, he said that because I was in regional NSW, they were unable to get a camera crew here. They were, however, able to get a crew out to Allison Gaylard’s house in Mullimbimby, 20 minutes away.  I guess there must be some kind of territory for these things, and that I am right outside of it. So sad!

For those who have never heard of Ms Gaylard, she is a founding member of the Northern Rivers Vaccination Supporter Group – an organisation set up to help increase the vaccination rate on the Far North Coast of NSW because the tens of millions of dollars spent by Federal and State governments on vaccine promotion apparently aren’t working!

Ms Gaylard has two fully vaccinated children who contracted whooping cough several years ago. Despite this evidence of vaccine failure, Ms Gaylard lays the blame for her children’s illness at the door of some imaginary unvaccinated children, stating that the ‘low’ vaccination rate in this area meant that there wasn’t herd immunity and that, according to her, herd immunity would have stopped the bugs, germs and viruses from “penetrating in”.

But back to The Project

Members of SAVN were reporting that The Project had a blanket policy to never interview anyone with an opposing viewpoint on the vaccination issue – freedom of speech at its finest – and that poor James, being new on the show, had been unaware of that policy.

Word to the wise, Jimmy, me boy-o: if you have to compromise your word over this issue, how many more times will you be asked to do so, and how far are you willing to go to keep that job?

But, then again, James may have felt justified if he’d listened to the lying liars at SAVN. Liars like the brave, anonymous Ancient Illyria (cited below) who told him at 1:54 PM on the 7th of January that I was ”…telling people that she [I] refused to go on the show.”

James Pattison

The ridiculous thing is, Illyria linked to the post below where I specifically stated that I had been asked to go on the show but The Project had not followed through.

The Project

Whoopsies, Illyria, I smell something burning! Could it possibly be your pants?

Then, I was interviewed on Canberra Radio, 2CC along with Ken McLeod, one of the founding members of SAVN.

Ken uttered some real corkers! He claims that Dr Tenpenny had stated that vaccinations were the cause of many mass murders in the U.S., including the Sandy Hook shooting.

His ‘evidence’ for this is a Facebook posting Dr Tenpenny made back in 2012:

Sherri Tenpenny

The article Dr Tenpenny referred to can be found at this link. It was written by the mother of a violent child who posed the question – why is my son like this? Why are so many children in America like this and who is going to take care of them and prevent them from committing the tragic mass murders that are becoming so much more common of late?

Did Dr Tenpenny say that vaccinations caused the Sandy Hook shootings? Of course not! Anyone with a brain (which apparently excludes many of SAVN’s most prominent voices) knows that she didn’t. She posited that vaccinations, antibiotics, fluoride, GMOs, and environmental chemicals – all of which are known to be able to adversely affect the brain – could have contributed to the increase in mental illness and violence in the U.S.

Is this a controversial statement? Not at all – it is based in science. It is simply not considered to be politically correct.

So Ken McLeod – no stranger to quoting things out of context in order to make it appear that vaccine sceptics are wrong or worse – has done that again on the radio. No big surprise there. Just another shameful exaggeration to advance his aim of suppressing our right to discuss health issues in Australia.

A case of mistaken identity

Lastly, and most amusingly, a SAVN member posted on the SAVN’s Facebook page, “Banned from the AVN: Celebrate it Here”.

Joey

He claims to have been right next to me and my family at Sydney Airport this morning whilst I was returning from a trip overseas. Apparently, I am very sick and spreading germs, and he announced who I was at the top of his lungs in the terminal, loudly enough so that I and my family were able to hear it. Unfortunately for him however, I was up in Bangalow at the time and haven’t been at Sydney Airport since December 18th!

My deepest sympathy to that poor woman who must bear some sort of resemblance to me. It can’t be easy to have to go through life being mistaken for someone so hated by so many lunatics!

Speak up or be judged by the company you keep

It is obvious that some SAVN members are complete strangers to the truth. I don’t judge them all on the behaviour of their ‘leaders’, but I do judge them for being members of a hate group that is actively trying to suppress and censor debate on a scientific issue. And I judge them for not speaking up and opposing the hatred being spewed by the group they have joined. Their silence speaks volumes.

Please note: Blog posts are opinion pieces that represent the views of the authors. They do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of the AVN National Committee. The AVN is a forum, support and information organisation, and outlet for discussion about the relative benefits and risks of vaccinations in particular – and medical procedures in general. We do not provide medical advice, but believe that all have the opportunity and the obligation to do their own research before making decisions for their families. The information we provide (including your personal review of the references we cite) should be taken in conjunction with a range of other data, including that obtained from government, your health-care provider, and/or other medical source material, to assist you in developing the knowledge necessary to make informed health choices.

False Balance? You mean, censorship, don’t you?

important_Opinion

by Meryl Dorey

Radio 4BC in Brisbane had the temerity to call me a few days ago to comment on a new QLD government initiative which would send out reminders to everyone who hasn’t vaccinated either their children or themselves and will also allow pharmacists to administer more vaccinations to more people.

As one of the representatives of an organisation supported by thousands of Australians who are skeptical about the medical evidence regarding vaccine safety and effectiveness, this radio station obviously felt that it was important to give a balanced view on the issue. And balanced, for those who don’t understand it, means at least two sides.

The pseudo-skeptics, on the other hand, disagree with the station’s decision to interview someone from the AVN.

Now, it’s OK to disagree – don’t get me wrong. Discussing and even arguing (politely and respectfully) about important issues is the basis of a civil and democratic society. And both I personally and the AVN as an organisation believe strongly in the right to discuss and examine all sides of any issue. This is the reason our organisation was formed 20 years ago and it is our core belief to this day.

But the hate groups, the Australian Skeptics [sic] and their splinter group, Stop the AVN, want the right to call the free and open airing of information on this issue ‘false balance’. They say that because they disagree with questions about vaccination (and other medical issues) and they are self-proclaimed arbiters of all issues scientific, anyone who does not support their point of view should not be given a platform to present their information. And make no mistake – it is their open intention to suppress this information and to harass, abuse and have the government cite anyone who dares to discuss the problems with vaccination publicly.

Below are links to the recordings of that program – I am putting them here in case the radio station gives in to pressure from these groups and takes those recordings down – this has happened before.

Dr Dylan Wilson


 

Meryl Dorey

 

Here are some of the hate-filled posts and tweets from SAVN members, including Rachael DunlopRachael Dunlop, VP of the NSW Skeptics [sic] (see one of her tweets for an idea of how this so-called professional deals with scientific issues). This organisation and SAVN have initiated a campaign to target this radio station to prevent them from ever allowing anyone on air who does not toe the party line on vaccination.

I hope you will take 5 minutes to drop the station a quick line and thank them for their fairness in allowing this information to be aired and to ask them to continue to do so. Here is their Contact Page.

Rachie re 4bc

 

Tierney re 4BCPlease note: Blog posts are opinion pieces which represent the views of the authors. They do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of the AVN National Committee. The AVN is a forum, support and information organisation and outlet for discussion about the relative benefits and risks of vaccinations in particular – and medical procedures in general. We do not provide medical advice but believe that everyone has the opportunity and the obligation to do their own research before making decisions for their families. The information we provide (including your personal review of the references we cite) should be taken in conjunction with a range of other data, including that obtained from government, your health care provider and/or other medical source material to assist you in developing the knowledge required to make informed health choices.

 

Did NSW Fair Trading Illegally Leak Private AVN Information?

28886672_s

In November 2013, the Administrative Decisions Tribunal affirmed that the NSW Office of Fair Trading (OFT) may lawfully order us to change our name. Then, in December, our attempt to process the new name was thwarted when that name was somehow leaked to outside parties. This happened within hours of our payment failing due to an unauthorized access on our credit card. This enabled them to ‘get in first’ and register the name for themselves.

(Note: individuals can register business names immediately, whereas incorporated associations have to wait for OFT to register an official name on their behalf.)

This was not the first time we suspected sensitive information had leaked from OFT. Just one month prior, members of ‘Stop the AVN’ publicised the decision regarding our forced name change (mentioned above) before we ourselves were aware of it. At the time, the only parties with access to this information were OFT and the Tribunal itself. The event in December galvanised our suspicions.

Our contact at the OFT undertook to investigate the alleged leak, but despite this promise, it appears that no investigation has taken place and all communication with our contact has been cut off by the OFT without explanation.

During the past six months, many of our members have asked about the progress of this investigation. Each time, we have had to reply that we were still waiting. To date, we have had no adequate response nor any indication that an investigation has or will take place.

On May 15th of this year (six weeks ago) we issued the Commissioner with a statement of events, and asked for confirmation of its accuracy. We indicated the statement would be used to brief our members about what had occurred thus far.

We have been asked to sit tight ever since while a response could be prepared. And we have, until now. Our final deadline to OFT passed five days ago. The Committee has now decided to go ahead and release the statement.

Below is the letter, complete with the statement and an outline of our concerns. In addition, you will find subsequent correspondence between OFT and AVN.

——————————————————–

May 15, 2014

The Commissioner,
NSW Fair Trading

Ref: Your correspondence of 14/3/2014
by email to commissioner@finance.nsw.gov.au

Dear Commissioner,

Regarding the possible leakage from your office of sensitive information concerning our organisation.

Please read the following document and advise as to whether any of the information in the enclosure or the summary (below) is inaccurate. We request your response in writing no later than the close of business on Thursday, May 29, 2014. Should you require more time to respond, please contact us. In response to queries from our members regarding this issue, we intend to inform them using the information in the summary and full-text letter below. If we do not hear from you within this timeframe, we will presume that you agree with these statements and will proceed accordingly.

In summary:

1- No formal investigation took place. It is clear that sensitive information provided by the AVN, somehow flowed from NSW Fair Trading to third parties. Despite the disturbing nature of this situation, NSW Fair Trading has neglected to conduct an investigation.

2- Ms Lunney, our contact at the department, expressed deep concern about what had occurred. We were surprised then to be told that she was unavailable to speak with us subsequently.

3- It seems that someone within NSW Fair Trading did indeed release information to a third party. However, instead of treating this situation with the seriousness it deserved, a carefully-worded letter was sent to the AVN by Mr Stowe, the Commissioner of Fair Trading, giving us assurances of things we hadn’t alleged whilst avoiding those we had.

Kind regards,
Greg Beattie,
President
Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network Inc

Divider 1

Is the NSW Office of Fair Trading leaking privileged information?

Members of Stop the AVN have obtained information that was not in the public arena at least twice in recent months.

The first instance occurred on the 25th of November. When the Administrative Decisions Tribunal (ADT) decision was handed down in the case of the AVN against NSW Fair Trading, members of Stop the AVN issued tweets about our loss before we ourselves were informed and before this information was public knowledge. We confirmed with the Registrar at the ADT that the only person who had knowledge of this decision at the time the tweets were issued was the solicitor for NSW Fair Trading.

The second instance occurred in December of 2013.

At 11:36 AM on the 20th of December, Meryl Dorey faxed and emailed a copy of a Form A1 (application to reserve a name) as well as a credit card payment form to the Department of NSW Fair Trading.

Unfortunately, due to an unauthorised access of the AVN’s credit card, the payment was rejected on December 24th.

1- Within hours of the payment failure, members of Stop the AVN had registered the exact same name we had tried to reserve as well as three variations of that name with ASIC.

2- On Boxing Day (December 26th), the AVN’s President, Mr Greg Beattie, received a call from Mr Rick Morton, a journalist with the Australian newspaper, who asked him why our name registration had failed. At this point, we ourselves were unaware of any problem with the payment and Mr Beattie told him as much.

3- On January 2nd, Mr Morton published an article (Appendix A) stating that the AVN had failed to register the name Australian Vaccination-Sceptics Network. The only time that name (including the hyphen) had been written down was on the paperwork the AVN had submitted to the Department on the 20th of December.

4- That same day, January 2nd, the AVN was made aware of a blog post from Mr Dan Buzzard (the text of which was later posted to the AVN’s PO Box in Bangalow). (Appendix B). Mr Buzzard stated that on the 24th of December, his “investigators” notified him that we had attempted to register the name Australian Vaccination-Sceptics Network.

5- Also on the 2nd of January, the following online comment was posted on the website of the Northern Star newspaper in response to their story about the AVN’s ‘failure’ to register our name.

Sandra_Harvey of Ocean Shores wrote:

“So to reserve a name without paying for it until their hand is forced once again by NSW Fair Trading has backfired. Dan Buzzard registered the name Australian Vaccination Sceptics Network with ASIC. If they had simply paid up like any sane person who wanted to register a name, they would have nothing to complain about”

All of these events took place well before we ourselves were aware of the failure of our payment and at a time when our name reservation should not have been public knowledge.

When ASIC reopened in January, the AVN enquired as to whether any of the above information might have been available to the public on their database. We were informed that name reservations do not appear on the database until they have been registered with the relevant state authorities. In fact, they themselves don’t have access to name reservations from the various states so nobody could have found out about this from them.

On Monday, January 6th, Mr Beattie spoke with Ms Robyne Lunney, our contact at Fair Trading, to inform her of Mr Buzzard’s claims and the article published in the Australian newspaper. Ms Lunney was disturbed by these events and said she would investigate and get back to Mr Beattie. She requested more details which were provided later that day by email. [Appendix C]

On trying to follow up with Ms Lunney, Mr Beattie was twice told by Fair Trading that she was not available and would no longer be available to speak with him.

On the 11th of February, Mr Beattie sent an email to Ms Lunney asking how the investigation was progressing. [Appendix D].

He received a response on the 13th of February, but not from Ms Lunney. Instead, Ms Christine Gowland was the correspondent.
Her only response to Mr Beattie’s question about the ‘investigation’ was:

“A response to the other issues raised in that email and your earlier email regarding events following your name reservation will be provided shortly under separate cover.”

After having no other contact with the Department regarding this matter, Mr Beattie sent the following request to Ms Gowland on March 3rd, 2014:

Dear Ms Gowland

I understand from the last sentence in your email (below) that the matter of sensitive information falling into the hands of a third party is still being investigated by your office. Can you please advise me of the name and contact details of the branch or person conducting this investigation so that [I] may ask further questions directly?

[It is our understanding that proper procedure for such an investigation is that it be conducted by a separate branch and that the party requesting the investigation (in this case, the AVN) be informed of these details.]

Ms Gowland did not respond to Mr Beattie’s request for further details about this investigation. Instead, the next correspondence from her was received by the AVN on the 12th of March 2014. It was a letter informing him that the AVN had 5 days in which to comply with the order to ensure that our name was changed on all documents and on our website.

On March 13th, Mr Beattie wrote to Ms Gowland acknowledging her advice regarding our name change and reminding her that he had yet to receive a response to his request from the 5th of March for details on the internal investigation.

Ms Gowland responded on the same day as follows:

“A formal response will soon be provided to you regarding issues raised in regards to information surrounding the new name.”

On March 14th, Mr Beattie sent the following email to Ms Gowland:

Dear Ms Gowland

Thank you for your email. I must ask why you have neglected to identify the party conducting the investigation. Surely we are entitled to make enquiries to this party regarding time-frames and other issues. Is it a formal investigation? I ask because these are the questions being asked of me by our members.

I look forward to your response.

Kind regards
Greg Beattie
President
Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network Inc.

On the 21st of March, the AVN received a letter by postal mail from Mr Rod Stowe, Commissioner of NSW Fair Trading. This letter [Appendix E], was signed on March 14th but not posted until March 19th. The letter simply stated that Mr Stowe assured the AVN that NSW Fair Trading had not disclosed any details regarding the name Australian Vaccination-Sceptics Network to the media or in any public forum.

The use of this language is interesting. Whilst members of the media were clearly privy to this information, the AVN has never alleged that NSW Fair Trading had released it directly to them. Why then did Mr Stowe use these words? The fact is that information which was not in the public domain and was sent by us to NSW Fair Trading under current privacy legislation, somehow made it to these parties. The question is – how did this happen?

Divider 1

From: <commissioner@finance.nsw.gov.au>
Date: Wed, May 21, 2014 at 5:02 PM
Subject: Re: Correspondence from Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network     Inc.

Dear Mr Beattie

Thank you for your further correspondence on this issue, which is currently being considered. A formal reply will be forthcoming following careful consideration of the points raised.

I will shortly provide you with an updated reference number for this matter.

Regards,
XXXXXXXX
Office of the Commissioner | NSW Fair Trading

Divider 1

From: <commissioner@finance.nsw.gov.au>
Date: Mon, May 26, 2014 at 10:05 AM
Subject: Ref: FTMIN14/1376 – Correspondence from Australian     Vaccination-skeptics Network Inc.

Dear Mr Beattie

I write again to further acknowledge your latest correspondence.

The reference number for this matter is FTMIN14/1376.

Unfortunately, the Commissioner will not be able to meet your stated deadline for a response to the issues raised, especially due to the fact he has only just today returned from overseas leave. However, please be assured the matter is under consideration and a response will be forthcoming as soon as possible.

Regards,
XXXXXXXX
Office of the Commissioner | NSW Fair Trading

Divider 1

From: Greg Beattie
Date: Fri, Jun 13, 2014 at 2:00 PM
Subject: Re: Ref: FTMIN14/1376 – Correspondence from Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network Inc.
To: commissioner@finance.nsw.gov.au

Dear XXXXXXXX

Your ref: FTMIN14/1376

Please be advised that our committee intends to commence preparing the information for our members after close of business next week (June 20). We request that the Commissioner notify us before that date if he feels that any of the information in the timeline we sent him is inaccurate or otherwise not in order. We presume the Commissioner is familiar with the issue, having previosly considered the allegations. If any substantial inaccuracies can be identified before the time mentioned above, we will be happy to delay informing our members to allow further time for investigation.

Please ensure a copy of this email is forwarded to the Commissioner.

Kind regards

Greg Beattie
President
Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network Inc.

Divider 1

From: <commissioner@finance.nsw.gov.au>
Date: Mon, Jun 16, 2014 at 11:38 AM
Subject: Re: FTMIN14/1376 – Correspondence from Australian     Vaccination-skeptics Network Inc.

Dear Mr Beattie

Thank you for this latest e-mail, which will be considered in the preparation of the Commissioner’s response to your previous correspondence on this issue (FTMIN14/1376).

Regards,
Office of the Commissioner | NSW Fair Trading

Divider 1

Date: Fri, Jun 20, 2014 at 7:17 AM
Subject: Re: FTMIN14/1376 – Correspondence from Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network Inc.
To: commissioner@finance.nsw.gov.au

Dear XXXXXXX,
Thank you for your email. It has now been more than five months since this matter was raised. Despite its concerning nature (something clearly acknowledged by your own representative) we still have not had an adequate response. I reiterate that our committee intends to prepare the information for members after close of business today (June 20, 2014). We will also consider whether further action is warranted.
Please ensure the Commissioner receives this email.
Thank you for your assistance.
Yours sincerely
Greg Beattie
President
Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network Inc.

Divider 1

From: <commissioner@finance.nsw.gov.au>
Date: Fri, Jun 20, 2014 at 2:35 PM
Subject: Re: FTMIN14/1376 – Correspondence from Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network Inc.

Dear Mr Beattie

I acknowledge your email and have made the Commissioner aware of it.
We are expediting the Commissioner’s response and hope to send it to you today.
Regards,
XXXXXXXX
Office of the Commissioner | NSW Fair Trading

Why isn’t the Health Care Complaints Committee’s inquiry transparent?

by Meryl Dorey

11074700_sIf you have been following this blog for any length of time at all, you would remember that we have been covering an issue of vital importance to everyone living in NSW specifically and Australia as a whole. That is the issue of an attempt by the NSW Health Care Complaints committee to grant yet more unprecedented powers to the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC).

Many of our members and supporters have sent written submissions to this committee explaining their objections to these proposals.You can see the page on the NSW Parliament website which will provide you with information on this inquiry – The Promotion of False or Misleading Health-Related Information or Practices.

Originally, the time period for submissions was supposed to end in December, 2013. It was then extended until the 7th of February 2014.

I personally know of more than 50 submissions to this inquiry made by AVN members. There would be many more.

In my experience, whenever a parliamentary inquiry has called for submissions, those submissions are published on the website as they are received or within a matter of days of receipt. In this instance, however, no submissions have been made publicly available and in fact, most people who submitted to this inquiry have not even received a confirmation that their submission was received.

At the end of February, 2014, I contacted Mr Jason Arditi, the Committee Manager, to ask why none of the submissions had been uploaded to the committee website even though submissions had been closed by, at that point in time, a couple of weeks.

I was told that the committee had not yet considered any of the submissions but that they would be meeting in mid-March and would consider them at that time and they would be published by the end of March.

The end of March came and went and again, no submissions were uploaded.

I contacted Mr Arditi in early April and at that time, I was told that the Committee had indeed met in March but had not considered any of the submissions. They were due to be considered at the meeting being held in mid-April and the submissions would be uploaded by the end of that month.

I asked if it was normal procedure to not publish submissions until they had been considered and Mr Arditi informed me that it was neither normal nor abnormal to proceed in this way. Whilst most committees do publish on receipt, this particular committee had chosen to do things differently.

The end of April came and went with no submissions on the committee website.

I contacted Mr Arditi on May 1st to ask why, once again, no submissions had been uploaded to the website. He told me that the committee had, in fact, considered the submissions during their April meeting and that they would be uploaded. It’s just that some of them were defamatory in nature so they would need to have sections blacked out before they were made public. He assured me that this would be done and they would be there by Friday, May 9th. Today, in fact.

I  asked for a firm publication date during my last conversation with Mr Arditi and he gave me his assurance that these submissions would be online by today but disappointingly, they are not there. Won’t they make the slightest attempt to appear transparent by abiding by their promise to publish these submissions?

A less trusting person than myself would be starting to wonder if the committee was trying to hide something? Why this ongoing failure to inform the public of the reasons why those in the community oppose their intended power grab?

Maybe one of you will have better luck getting an answer than I have? If you’d like to contact Mr Arditi, his details are below. Please let me know if you do get a result. We have a right to see this information and to consider what the committee has considered.

Please note: Blog posts are opinion pieces which represent the views of the authors. They do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of the AVN National Committee. The AVN is a forum, support and information organisation and outlet for discussion about the relative benefits and risks of vaccinations in particular – and medical procedures in general. We do not provide medical advice but believe that everyone has the opportunity and the obligation to do their own research before making decisions for their families. The information we provide (including your personal review of the references we cite) should be taken in conjunction with a range of other data, including that obtained from government, your health care provider and/or other medical source material to assist you in developing the knowledge required to make informed health choices.

Are you brave enough to follow through, Peter Bowditch?

BowditchAs you have read on this page, the deadline for someone to come forward and debate me is coming up. It is this Friday, the 9th of May.

After writing my blog article, The Great Vaccination Non-Debate, Peter Bowditch of the NSW Skeptics and a very active ‘contributor’ to their splinter group, Stop the AVN, posted the following comment to the AVN’s blog:

“Please notify the organisers of the Healthy Lifestyles Expo that I was serious when I offered to debate you. Now that you are aware of this you can no longer claim that nobody from the sanity side of the non-debate is prepared to step up to the plate.

“In case this comment doesn’t manage to get through moderation, a screen shot will be published on Twitter and Facebook.”

I instantly wrote back to Mr Bowditch, informing him that, as it said in the blog post, anyone who wanted to be involved in the debate should contact the organisers and let them know.

I did inform the organisers about Mr Bowditch’s offer to debate me and they sent him 2 invitations without getting any response. Let me repeat – as of this weekend, despite 2 written invitations in response to his offer to debate me at the You Can Heal Yourself Expo at the end of this month, Peter Bowditch, who made the offer of his own free will, has not responded.

What’s worse, he now appears to be trying to blame me for his failure to follow through on his promise to debate me. Yesterday, he sent the following tweet out to his followers:

Bowditch Debate

Apparently, he wants to make it appear that he was unaware of the venue of this debate and, now knowing it, he will no longer debate me.

But the truth is that the venue and all debate details were freely advertised and Mr Bowditch is the one who contacted me to say he wanted to debate.

Come on, Peter! I’m calling on you to either accept the invitation (which was sent at your request) or admit that you are too scared to debate me on this issue. You can’t have it both ways.

You are the one who accepted the challenge – and you are the one who has to follow through or admit that you are afraid to debate.

Tamiflu drug ‘largely ineffective’ in reducing hospitalisation: study

TamifluAntiviral drugs are largely ineffective for reducing hospital admissions and complications from influenza, and come with serious side-effects, according to a research review published by the Cochrane Collaboration today.

The drugs were stockpiled by governments across the world, including Australia’s, in response to the 2009 swine flu pandemic.

Cochrane, along with the British Medical Journal, is asking governments to consider whether they would choose to stockpile well-known antiviral Tamiflu in light of these findings, arguing the original evidence leading to the stockpiling was incomplete.

A spokeswoman for the Federal Department of Health said antivirals were part of the National Medical Stockpile currently valued at A$192 million, but refused to provide further details “due to security and commercial sensitivities”.

Tamiflu drug ‘largely ineffective’ in reducing hospitalisation: study.

Apparently our acronym is now misleading?

by AVN President,
Greg Beattie

Oppression

If you have been following our saga during the past year you will know the prequel to this post. For those who missed it, we were directed last year to change our name – after 16 years – because our opponents complained that it was misleading. After exhausting our avenues of appeal, it turned out the Minister for Fair Trading had the power to enforce this. In fact, he introduced a new regulation just so that he could see this through!

So we changed our name. We are now “Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network Inc”. The new name was accepted by our members, as well as by NSW Fair Trading.

Now we have a new threat. Director of Investigations, Compliance and Enforcement Division, Mr David Byrne, phoned last Friday to say he requires us to change all instances of the abbreviation “AVN” to “AVSN”. And he has threatened to commence action without further notice to shut us down and remove our domain from the internet.

This was quite a surprise! Before the call there had been no mention of this intention, as you will see from the letters below

We believe this latest move suggests the aim, from the beginning, has been to force our organisation to close its doors. While the Minister successfully convinced the court that someone, somewhere might think the name Australian Vaccination Network is misleading, no similar argument has been made about the abbreviation, AVN

Greg

Below is the latest letter from Greg Beattie to Rod Stowe, Commissioner, NSW Fair Trading, 23 March, 2014. This afternoon, we received an interim response stating that the,  “issues raised are under consideration”.

Dear Mr Stowe,

We received correspondence on March 20, 2014, from David A. Byrne (Director, Investigations, Compliance and Enforcement Division, NSW Fair Trading). I responded on the same day. Both letters are enclosed for your reference. Mr Byrne then phoned me on the following day.

You will see from the correspondence that Mr Byrne requested we ensure all instances of our old name were changed to our new name, in all official documents and web publications. As indicated in my response, this has been done.

However, when Mr Byrne phoned me the following day he explained that he required us to also change all instances of the abbreviation “AVN” to “AVSN”, regardless of whether the documents in which they appear already bear our full name. I asked Mr Byrne to submit this request in writing, stating the reasons for it, and I would take it to the committee. He indicated he was not prepared to do so as it was something the ‘court’ had already ordered, and he felt his letter had already covered it. He further indicated he would commence action against us on the basis of non-compliance. He said the action, and the timeline for such, would be those outlined in his letter.

I write today to ask you to clarify whether Mr Byrne’s threat via phone represents the official position of your office. If it does, we ask for this request to be put unambiguously in writing, stating that it is now the abbreviation you take issue with. We also ask that you quote the legislation which empowers you to direct an organisation to change an informal abbreviation it uses within documents which already bear its full official name.

On the other hand, if Mr Byrne’s threat does not represent the official position of your office I ask
that you ensure he is made aware of that.

Given the nature of the threat I ask that you clarify this issue as a matter of urgency.

In the interim, I submit the following:

  • Our full legal name (the new one) is prominently displayed at the top of all stationary and other documents. It is clearly displayed on all banners, footers, and other relevant text for all our web pages.
  • “AVN” is not an official name. It is an informal abbreviation, and was not the subject of our ADT hearing last year. The ADT did not even consider its use.
  • “AVN” is not used to replace our full name. It is only used in documents which already bear our full official name. In such cases it is an informal abbreviation intended to avoid repetition. We have used this shorthand for more than 16 years.
  • It is acceptable for any entity to refer to itself in abbreviated format, informally, within documents that bear its full legal name. In fact, it is routine to do so. Most, if not all, organisations and businesses do this. The abbreviations they choose are a matter for their discretion.
  • Given that our full name “Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network Inc.” contains a hyphen, we consider “AVN” a reasonable abbreviation.
  • After searching the Act we are unable to find reference to any power permitting you to direct an organisation to change the way it informally refers to itself.

I look forward to your clarifying this for us.
Yours sincerely
Greg Beattie
President
Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network Inc.

Letter from David Byrne, 20 March, 2014

Letter from Greg Beattie to David Byrne, 20 March, 2014