On the 19th of August, 2013, then AVN President, Greg Beattie, gave a presentation before a QLD Parliamentary Inquiry looking into changes to the way in which unvaccinated children are admitted to childcare facilities. The intent was to exclude the unvaccinated or make it more difficult for them to attend.
The Committee Chair was Trevor Ruthenberg and he was both fair and competent in the way he managed the day.
The AVN put together a scientifically-based, well-referenced submission and was treated with great respect by most on this committee whose ultimate decision was, thankfully, not to go ahead with the intended legislative changes.
This last week, On September 10th, due to very similar changes being proposed in QLD, the AVN once again took the time to put together a submission and was called upon to testify.
We assumed that the procedure would be the same and that the Committee would, once again, treat all those who took the time to testify with respect.
Unfortunately, that was not the case.
I was there as an observer so I was able to closely watch both the previous speakers and the AVN representatives.
Altogether, were 12 speakers who were in support of government policies regarding the exclusion of unvaccinated children (actually, Professor Julie Leask, though an avid supporter of vaccination, was not happy with the bill in its present state and said – amongst other things – that it was unethical) and 4 speakers who believed in free and informed health choice. The AVN’s group consisted of Greg Beattie, Tasha David (current AVN President) and Brett Smith, a member of the AVN.
In addition, there was to be a presentation from Ms Rebecca Hansen-Smith, a QLD mother who has been researching this issue extensively and who gave an excellent presentation at the last Committee Meeting.
The AVN was told that they would have 20 minutes in total and they were to present after Prof Julie Leask testified by telephone hookup. They therefore prepared a 3-minute opening statement each (9 minutes in total) and allowed 11 minutes for questions.
Ms Hansen-Smith was also given 20 minutes and she was supposed to be the last speaker of the day, immediately following the AMA (there will be a very long blog about the presentation of Dr Kidd from the AMA within the next day or two).
The Committee members listened to the pro-medical speakers with great attentiveness and asked many, many questions – the majority of them, Dorothy Dixers.
When it came time for the AVN to speak, however, the Committee called Rebecca Hansen-Smith at the same time.
The AVN just assumed that their time had been extended to 40 minutes (which would have been fair) and the Committee just wanted them all to speak together since they were covering the topic from the same point of view.
Less than 2 minutes into Ms Hansen-Smith’s opening statement however (the Committee asked her to go first), the Chair interrupted, asking if she could please wrap it up! Of course, none of us expected this and Rebecca said that she still had important information she had prepared and wanted to get to.
The Chair said that the Committee was running overtime after the previous speakers so the AVN was going to have to cut its time short and also merge its time with another, unrelated person!
Of course, everyone was most upset about this. Tasha had flown in from Melbourne, Brett from Sydney and Greg had travelled from the Sunshine Coast. In their voluntary capacity, they had spent hours putting together submissions and opening statements and now, they were not going to be allowed to put them on the public record!
Greg’s opening statement (in the next blog following this one) was cut in half and neither Brett nor Tasha got to use their statements at all.
To add insult to injury, whilst the Committee had listened very intently to the pro-vaccine speakers, they chatted amongst themselves nearly the entire time the AVN and Ms Hansen-Young were presenting.
You can read the Transcript of the day’s testimony at this link – and as I said previously, I am going to be writing an in-depth analyses of several of these presentations, but I would just like to close by saying that the Committee showed extreme rudeness and disdain for those who were in opposition to the passage of this law.
This was a public hearing and they were the only ones representing the general public. Instead of listening to them and allowing them the requisite time they had been promised, they were ignored and their talks were cut short.
Lastly, when the final presenter of the day, Dr Richard Kidd from the AMA QLD rose to speak, he assured the Chair that he would be as brief as possible. The Chair replied, “We have made up time. Thank you.”
Of course they had made up time! They had cut the two health consumer talks in half in order to give that time to a medical lobby group.
I am hoping that they will at least be fair when determining the outcome of this legislation (and please do take the time to read Greg’s opening statement because it explains why this legislation cannot go ahead in its present state).
Only time will tell.