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.

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?

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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

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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?

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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.

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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

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.

The AVN – our finances are an open book

by Meryl Dorey9710598_s

Yesterday, the AVN was contacted by Amy Corderoy who is the Health Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald. She had been contacted by members of Stop the AVN – the organisation that has been set up to harass, abuse and threaten our members in order to force our group to close down. Due to their complaints about the AVN, Amy Corderoy wanted to let us know that she had asked an independent accountant to look over the AVN’s financial records over the last 7 years and that they had ‘concerns’ about what we have spent our money on for the year 2010. I will have more to say about 2010’s financial report later in this blog. According to SAVN’s accusations however, none of our money has been spent for a charitable purpose and therefore, they felt that we should be investigated.

Let’s see – in the 2 years since we won our case against an illegal investigation carried out by the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission, we have been investigated by 6 federal and state departments (Charity Departments in WA, VIC and NSW, The Department of Fair Trading in NSW, The Australian Tax Office, The Health Care Complaints Commission) a dozen times. And every single one of these investigations was in response to complaints by Stop the AVN. Now, we have journalists carrying out an investigation at the behest of this organised hate group whose founder publicly stated that he would be the cause of my demise. Perhaps instead of responding to Amy Corderoy’s email,  I should be telling her that if she wants to investigate the AVN, she will need to take a number and wait in line?

The last straw

I am writing this on behalf of the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network, Inc. (formerly the Australian Vaccination Network, Inc.) and also on my own behalf – as the founding member of this organisation, its public officer and, until very recently, it’s President.

For more than 5 years, members of Stop the AVN, some sectors of the government and the media have been slandering and defaming both myself and the AVN, claiming, amongst other things, that there have been financial improprieties with our group.  They have claimed that every cent the AVN took in went straight into my pocket and that I am ‘living the high life’ on the back of our members’ support.

Ironically, when the Sydney Morning Herald sent a couple of reporters out to my home a couple of years ago to allow me to tell ‘my side’ of a story (what a joke that was!), they described my house as being ramshackle – perhaps because we haven’t had the money to paint or landscape it since I have let my volunteer-work for the AVN take priority over paid employment?

Below are links to our financial reports which have always been available should people request them. As opposed to the accusations being spread by SAVN:

  1. Our financial records have been audited every year since 1998 when we became a charity authority holder. This is one of the requirements of holding that license, as opposed to simple incorporated associations who do not have the same level of scrutiny.
  2. Our financial records are overseen by both the Department of Fair Trading and the Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing. This happens every year.
  3. In fact, in 2009, due to the vexatious complaints of Ken McLeod of SAVN, the AVN was audited by the Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing whose representatives spent 2 days here going over our books and many weeks studying our financial records. Though they found some minor errors and one larger mistake that had been made by the organisation, they specifically stated that there was no evidence of fraud or other illegal activities and that these were the sorts of errors they would expect to see with any small, understaffed volunteer-run organisation.
  4. All AVN Committee members are and always have been volunteers. Both myself and Greg Beattie, our President, work full time quite often, sometimes more than full time, on jobs for the AVN without receiving any payment.
  5. For a few years, I was paid for my role as the Editor of Living Wisdom magazine. That was the only time in the over 20 years I have been involved with this organisation when I was paid. I was not paid for my role on the committee but rather for my role as Editor. Amy Corderoy’s email contains the following statement (quoted verbatim):

    They [the accountant consulted by the Herald] have also highlighted the editor payments for Living Wisdom

    2007 Total $ 15,840 4 issues published. Editor fee per issue: $3,960
    2008 Total $ 17,490 3 issues published. Editor fee per issue: $5,830

The implication appears to be that I was making the princely some of nearly $16,000 for one year and nearly $17,500 for another so, ipso facto, I was getting rich from my work with the AVN. In actuality, I was earning between $1,250 and $2,400 a month for between 120 to 150 hours of work. This is far less than what the average wage earner would be making.

2010 – the year from hell

The one year when our financial report really does have some serious deficiencies is the year ending on the 31st of December, 2010. Let me set the scene. At this point, we had been under attack for nearly 18 months from Ken McLeod and the other members of the Australian Skeptics and SAVN. These attacks had been very public and had included death threats, the mailing and emailing of pornography and a string of very public false accusations. We were involved in a court battle where our solicitor and barrister had both appealed to the court to suppress their names because they were afraid of becoming targets of these hate groups and the court itself had to have security guards present because members of SAVN had indicated they would be present at the hearings. We were unable to find a forensic accountant to write a report for the court, because they told us they were too scared to work with us. Can you imagine it? These professionals – who regularly work with organised crime gangs and the like – were too scared to work with us.

We were also unable to find an auditor to prepare our end of year financials for the same reason. I had personally contacted dozens of them and all declined after finding out that it was our organisation calling. Many of them were on side on this issue but they all said that they feared SAVN and the Australian Skeptics and did not want to go on record as having prepared our end-of year report.

The Department of Fair Trading was threatening to deregister us if we didn’t provide them with our financials and we were desperate when we found a local auditor who said he would take on the job. This person had – from memory – over 6 months to do so. He was given an absolute deadline as to when this needed to be submitted along with our form A12 and he agreed to finalise his report before then.

In the end, despite all of my cooperation; despite being provided with boxes and boxes of our financial records and me sitting in his office for hours to go over everything and his off-sider coming to our office for the purpose of due diligence, he did not finish the job until 3 days after it was due. In fact, I feel confident in saying that he did not START the job until that time since every time I called and asked how the audit was progressing, I was told he would be looking at our work ‘soon’.

You might presume that he was doing this for free because he cared about our group when in fact, he charged more than any other auditor had up until that point. Since our return was going to be past the deadline, he called me in to sign it so he could send it off to the Department of Fair Trading straight away. I signed it there on the spot without going through it in detail to avoid further delays.

It wasn’t until getting home with my copy that I noticed that he had pre-dated the paperwork to 3 days earlier. In fact he had been so careless, he had put another company’s name and address at the end of the document rather than ours! By then, the damage had been done and SAVN have made as much of this poor return and the errors in it as they could.

I contacted our solicitor to ask about suing this accountant and was advised not to do so because even though this was a truly terrible job, it would cost us more to pursue a lawsuit than it was worth and we simply didn’t have the funds to do this and fight fight all the other battles we faced.

At this time, our committee is considering paying another auditor to redo 2010’s books, but we wish that stress that any implications that improper uses were made of funds during that year are without basis and only due to the malicious intent of SAVN.

16553570_sReal News or Smokescreen?

Yet journalists are being lobbied by members of the SAVN who seem to think that the irregularities in our 2010 statement is news. Perhaps some journalists might feel that Australians really care about the measly remuneration I received for the work I put in as Editor of the AVN’s magazine. Perhaps they would be correct in that assumption.

But I think they need to know that intelligent Australians can see through these smokescreens. What they care deeply about are the real crimes being committed by drug companies and health authorities in Australia every single day (for example, how the Health Care Complaints Commission did nothing to stop Graeme Reeves, the Butcher of Bega, from maiming more than 500 women).

The AVN’s payment to staff is not really news, but the following stories are and strangely enough, they don’t seem to have found their way onto the pages of the Sydney Morning Herald (or most other newspapers in Australia):

  1. Dr Brian Hooker fought for years to get the Centres for Disease Control to release data they had suppressed on the link between thiomeral – the mercury-based preservative which used to be in childhood vaccines – and the development of Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). Dr Hooker was finally able to get these details under Freedom of Information. It showed that there was a 7.6 times increased risk of ASDs in children who received mercury-containing vaccines.
  2. Neuroscientist Chris Shaw and Biochemist Dr Lucija Tomljenovic published research indicating that HPV (so-called cervical cancer) vaccines “may trigger fatal autoimmune or neurological events in some cases”. A search of the entire Sydney Morning Herald database showed nothing for these well-published researchers, but there was plenty of drug-company sponsored ‘research’ saying how great this vaccine is and how every man, woman and child in Australia should be getting it.
  3. Speaking of the HPV vaccine, while Australia was expanding the use of this vaccine from girls and women to boys and men, Japan stopped recommending it because of the high number of serious reactions and deaths following the shot. Did the Herald request the services of a specialist investigator to look into this situation and report back with the truth so they could report that back to their readers? Sadly, the answer is no.
  4. Multinational pharmaceutical company, Johnson and Johnson, was fined US $2.4 billion for the fraudulent off-label marketing of its anti-psychotic medications to vulnerable children, the elderly and the disabled. Did the Sydney Morning Herald get up in arms about those who were killed and permanently injured by Big Pharma for profit? No – they were too busy pursuing the AVN and trying to smear me personally for making the princely sum of $600 for 60 hours work back in 2009.

These attacks against our organisation and the individuals who support it are nothing more than a blatant effort to intimidate those who speak publicly on this issue. Just as Dr Andrew Wakefield and his research was used to warn any doctor of what would happen to them if they dared listen to parents of vaccine-damaged autistic children. The AVN, our committee and our members are being used to set an example of what will happen to anyone who speaks out in support of informed choice and the example isn’t very nice at all.

We have nothing to hide

The AVN Committee invites you to examine our financial records – and make up your own mind about how our ‘millions of dollars’ have been spent and whether you feel that this is a legitimate news story or simply another arm of a witch hunt targeting a group of parents who care so much about the rights of Australian families, they are willing to put themselves through this abuse without any hope of personal profit or advancement. We do this simply because we are passionate about making a stand for what we feel is true and just.

Meryl Dorey,
AVN Public Officer

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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.

Silencing the opposition

iStock_000011256677XSmallThis last week has been a time of tough decisions. A time when I had to make a choice between pursuing justice in the courts or cutting my losses and pulling out of what I saw as a totally biased system where the cards are stacked against me – not because of a lack of evidence but simply because of a perceived bias against my stance on a political and scientific issue.

I chose to withdraw my Apprehended Personal Violence Order (APVO) appeal against Peter Bowditch and, true to form, the skeptics and SAVN have been making false statements about my reason for doing so to members of the media – statements which I believe require a response.

Let me preface this by saying that these cases were initiated by me personally. They are not AVN matters, though I believe it is my involvement with the AVN which has influenced the courts against me, causing them to be decided on the personal preconceived opinions of the magistrates involved, rather than on the merits and the evidence presented.

A bit of history

Last year, at the suggestion of police in two NSW jurisdictions, I filed three separate APVOs: against Daniel Raffaele, founder of Stop the AVN (SAVN), Peter Bowditch, committee member of the Australian Skeptics and Dan Buzzard, WA member of SAVN.

I could have filed APVOs against many more SAVN members. So many have threatened and harassed me, as well as inciting others to do me harm, but these were the three whom I considered to be the ‘ringleaders’ – whose abuse and harassment were unremitting. My reasons for taking this action were two-fold

1-    To stop them from continuing their criminal campaign of abuse, harassment and threats against me; and

2-    To send a warning to others that the justice system would protect someone who was being openly abused, harassed and threatened.

My family and I were living in great fear that one of these individuals would either harm us or would incite someone else in the community to do so. I had no funds for legal advice but I was told by the police that applying for an APVO would be straightforward and simple, so I proceeded to make the application. At no time did they inform me that they themselves could have applied for the APVO. Had they done so, I would have insisted that they do it and a whole lot of time, heartache and expense could have been saved.

Simple and Straightforward

At the time I first applied, I had no idea that the ensuing process would be incredibly slow, outrageously expensive to me – the victim of this abuse – and a total waste of time.

I admit I have become jaded over the years regarding the expectation of fair treatment from our bureaucracy. However I still believed it was possible to get justice from the courts, and that magistrates would pass judgment without allowing their personal preconceived biases to interfere. I was a babe in the woods in that regard.

It is my firmly held belief, based on the evidence from both cases that actually went to trial, that my losses had nothing to do with the evidence presented to the courts. Based on that evidence alone – APVOs should have been granted without question. But both magistrates showed a strong disapproval for the work that I have done for the last 20 years with the AVN and I feel that they were unable to separate Meryl Dorey the mother, woman and victim of institutionalised and long-running abuse, from Meryl Dorey, ex-President of the AVN and vaccine rights advocate.

Just a clarifying note at this point for those who are unaware of my case against Daniel Raffaele: the APVO against him was granted without his making any admissions of wrongdoing even though threatening calls to my home were made from his house in the middle of the night. I was advised to accept these terms rather than going to trial. In retrospect, I think I made the right choice since even with the damning evidence against him, I am unsure that the courts would have granted my application had Raffaele opposed it.

SAVN Untruths and a complicit media

To make matters worse, however, SAVN and the Australian Skeptics are now using my withdrawal from the case against Peter Bowditch as an admission that I only took these actions in order to silence my critics.

Their excuse for saying this is based on a lie and they know it is based on a lie yet they continue to state it anyway.

When I went to the courthouse last year to make the initial applications, I selected several of the standard orders from the list available (orders which limited the perpetrator’s ability to come near me or enter my property or threaten me). I also asked that they not be allowed to mention me in any online forum in a derogatory manner. At the initial mention in Ballina Courthouse almost a year ago, the magistrate said that he did not have the power to grant the latter order and I agreed to withdraw it. All I was asking the court to do was to prevent them from coming near me or physically threatening me. None of that would in any way ‘silence’ them.

Having since spoken with a solicitor about this, I have been told that there was no problem with my asking for these latter orders because my intention was to stop them from inciting others to commit violence against me or to join in harassing, abusing or stalking me as they and their cohorts had done for some time. My wording was the only issue and this became a moot point since that order was removed before either hearing.

Dan Buzzard and Peter Bowditch are perfectly aware that this is the case – but they have continued to mislead the media – and the media have continued to print whatever they are told about me – stating that I only took out these APVOs in order to silence my opposition.

In fact, during the time when these cases were still before the courts, sub judice reports were appearing in the media to the effect that taking away my opposition’s right to free speech was the only reason I made these applications.

In addition to this and in a move that can only be called bizarre, Greens Senator Richard Di Natale stood up in Federal Parliament and stated that these applications were only being made to silence my opposition and he thanked two of the three perpetrators by name for their ‘work’ in this regard!

Decisions based on fact or bias

It is my belief that the magistrate in my case against Dan Buzzard may have used this misinformation in his decision since he did refer to media reports when making his summation. In fact, he criticised me openly many times during the hearing to the point where I was relieved to only have to pay $11,000 in court costs – at one point, I had the distinct impression that I was going to be sent to gaol. I do not remember him sanctioning Dan Buzzard even once despite his admissions to having asked people to send me violent pornography.

I am currently awaiting delivery of the transcripts from these cases and when I have received them, I will be updating everyone with exactly what occurred and why I feel that there were grave errors not only in law but also in fact which led to these adverse decisions.

Freedom of speech

If by silencing my opposition, SAVN and the Australian Skeptics mean that I wanted to stop them threatening, harassing and stalking me as they have done for so long and prevent them from inciting others to do the same, then I admit that’s what I was trying to do.

If however, they mean that I want to take away their freedom of speech – their ability to engage in respectful and non-threatening debate on this or any other issue, I’m afraid they are completely wrong.

Because I welcome that debate. I have asked for it publicly – over and over again. I support freedom of speech 100% and in fact, have been lobbying to have an Australian Bill of Rights introduced to codify this right and the right to other freedoms which most democratic nations take for granted but which, shamefully, do not exist in Australia.

This is not a matter for question – it is and has been my stance in public and in private for 20 years now.

It is SAVN and their members – including Daniel Raffaele, Dan Buzzard and Peter Bowditch, who are the ones trying to silence their opposition. And they do it over and over again.

  1. In the initial complaint to the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC), SAVN member Ken McLeod asked that the HCCC issue a Prohibition Order against me using their powers under the Health Care Complaints Act 1993. He asked that this order be used to stop both myself and the AVN from publicly discussing the issues surrounding vaccination.
  2. The purpose and reason why Stop the AVN exists is to silence the AVN, our members and anyone who openly asks scientific and legitimate questions about this medical procedure. It is their goal to take away our freedom of speech and to remove our inalienable rights to both question and make informed choices on this subject.
  3. SAVN Supporter and head of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Steve Hambleton, stood on the steps of NSW Parliament not long ago stating that any individual or group who criticises vaccination should be subject to punishment.
  4. Greens Senator, SAVN supporter and doctor Richard di Natale proposed and passed a motion in Federal Parliament stating that the AVN should be disbanded simply because he disagreed with our viewpoint on the issue of vaccination.
  5. SAVN members, including Dan Buzzard, Daniel Raffaele and Peter Bowditch have written to venues where I was booked to present seminars, requesting that they stop me from speaking there. They have also contacted media outlets asking them not to interview me, and filed complaints against those who have allowed me the right to comment on vaccine-related issues.

These people are truly guilty of using bureaucracy and the media to silence their opposition.

All I asked was that the courts protect me from these abusers who had openly threatened and harassed me. This is a protection that should be available to all Australian citizens and residents – indeed – to everyone in every country around the world. It is a basic human right which, thanks to what I consider to be the bias of the courts, was denied me in these cases.

Please note: I have sent a copy of this blog post to Jane Hansen of the Daily Telegraph and the Murdoch media. She had contacted me because she plans on writing a story for Sunday’s paper about my APVO applications. I hope that, having set the record straight, her article will cover this issue fairly and truthfully.

Daniel Raffaele, Founder of the Hate Group SAVN, Doesn’t want you to know this

On Tuesday, July 9th, I uploaded a post to the AVN’s Facebook Page regarding a statement the AVN’s President, Mr Greg Beattie, had made on the programme Today Tonight that evening. Part of Greg’s statement which concerned threatening phone calls from the home of SAVN’s founder to myself was censored despite assurances from the show that there would be no editing. I will paste the expanded version of the Facebook text below for you to read in its entirety in addition to a link to the programme itself.

Sometime on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning , Facebook removed the post below due to its being reported by members of Stop the AVN including Mr Daniel Raffaele. The message was reposted by one of our page administrators (since I was unaware of its removal until late last night) and was immediately removed again! Apparently, SAVN members strongly support freedom of speech – as long as it’s their right to abuse others they are protecting.

I, Meryl Dorey, currently have an apprehended violence order (AVO) against the founder of Stop the AVN (SAVN), Mr Daniel Raffaele, because 6 phone calls were made from his home to mine in August last years between approximately 2:30 AM and 3:30 AM. The NSW police positively confirmed that the calls originated from his house and the AVO was taken out at their suggestion. Despite this and despite the then 3-year history of almost daily abuse from this man, the police declined to charge him with a crime. Even though he did not admit to making these 6 calls, two of which consisted of threats against myself (Die in a Fire, and Just burn), it is my personal belief that Mr Raffaele was the perpetrator in this case. He had both the motive – his often professed overwhelming hatred of me – and the opportunity (he lives with his mother in the house where the calls originated from and has not offered any alternative explanation as to who else would have been there in the middle of the night using his phone to call me) and it would stretch credulity past breaking, in my opinion, to think that these calls came from any person other than Daniel Raffaele.

Today Tonight – 9 July, 2013

Greg-TT

On the 9th of July, 2013, Today, Tonight interviewed Mr Greg Beattie, President of the AVN and Senator Richard Di Natale, health spokesman for the Australian Greens. Two weeks ago, Senator Di Natale put forward a resolution in the Federal Senate to demand that the AVN be disbanded.

Today, Tonight offered Senator Di Natale and Mr Beattie an opportunity to make a statement on this issue. They were told that they would each have exactly 60 seconds and that there would be absolutely no editing of their words. Unfortunately, Greg’s statement was edited. The following line was cut from the final recording (click the image above to view the entire show) – you can see the cut during Greg’s talk when the screen suddenly gets much brighter.

”The calls were recorded, and traced by the police. Di Natale named and thanked the man who made the calls, and criticised our founder for taking out an AVO. Work that out!”

“This concerned the fact that Senator Di Natale congratulated Daniel Raffaele for his ‘work’ in trying to force our group to close, and crticised the use of the Apprehended Violence Order. The Senator was either unaware of or unconcerned about the threatening and abusive calls to the AVN’s Public Officer, Meryl Dorey. These calls were traced by the police and confirmed to have originated from Raffaele’s home.”

Do we really want someone in Parliament who shakes hands with abusers and attacks their victims?

Everything Di Natale said about the AVN and those who represent our organisation was untrue. His association with a hate group should be a grave concern to anyone who cares about human rights and freedom of speech.

If you haven’t already done so, please write a letter to Senator Christine Milne, Leader of the Australian Greens, to ask her whether her party really does support silencing and abusing a volunteer-run parent’s support group? If you would like to read some of the letters which have already been sent, you can view them on our blog here.

Hate, threats and cowardice

There are many people in this world I disagree with.

  • I disagree with people who think that women should be kept at home, not paid equal wages for equal work or aren’t as intelligent as men.
  • I disagree with people who think that there is only one ‘right’ religion and everyone who worships differently or who doesn’t worship at all is damned.
  • I disagree with people who think it’s OK to wear red and pink together. I mean…come on! Think people!

There are a whole range of other people’s opinions I disagree with and I can be forthright about letting them know that many times. This has led to some great arguments, debates and yes, good-natured verbal slanging matches in the past.

What it has never led to – until recently – is threats and hundreds if not thousands of vexatious complaints. It has never led to people wanting to kill me because they don’t agree with the results of my research into the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. It has never led to people calling my home in the middle of the night to tell me to die in a fire or sending me emails saying they are sharpening their knives for me.

In my world – until recently – it was OK to disagree and even to fight about these disagreements – even to dislike each other because of irreconcilable differences. Disagreement didn’t mean wanting to physically harm the person you disagreed with, nor did it mean sending constant threats or trying to stop them from speaking in public. They are every bit as entitled to their beliefs and opinions as I am – even if my beliefs and opinions are backed by research and theirs aren’t. Each to their own.

Why won’t I tell people where our Canberra seminar will be held?

A few days ago, the AVN announced that it would be holding a seminar in Canberra on Saturday the 10th of November. For the first time, we have decided not to release the name or location of the venue – only saying that it is centrally located within Canberra so it will be easy for anyone in that area to get to.

The reason we did this is that over the last 3 1/2 years or so, every single time we have held seminars, there have either been threats to the venues, requiring us to hire security guards at our expense – or letters and phone calls to the venue urging them not to allow us to speak. The source of these threats has always been both the hate group, Stop the AVN (SAVN) and their parent group, the Australian Skeptics.

These anti-democracy campaigners will do anything and everything to take away our right to speak and your right to hear us. One has to wonder what they will gain by their campaign against free speech?

Within a matter of hours after advertising our newest seminar, the following post was placed on the SAVN Facebook page by a ‘brave’ person who has made up a profile to hide their real identity:

No doubt, there are currently several complaints winging their way to various government departments in the ACT and no doubt, this will cost the government there money in investigating and assessing these vexatious missives – but since when has SAVN or the Skeptics ever worried about costing the government money? Their stunts in NSW must have cost in the area of several million dollars now if they were added up. So what’s a bit more?

Then, just about 2 hours ago, I received an email from someone using a tormail account. I believe this is the same person who previously sent threats to me using the fantasticfox5@tormail account. You remember that person – Dan Buzzard’s mate from Stop the AVN.

This time, they used a new tormail account – one has to wonder if the other one got too ‘hot’ for them?

And here is what they said:

From: savn@tormail.org
Date: 24 October 2012 2:42:40 PM AEST
To: meryl@avn.org.au
Subject: fire alarm

wouldnt it be fun to pull the fire alarm at ur venue?

you could just cancel your talk it would save a lot of agro

We are Anonymous.
We are Legion.
We do not forgive.
We do not forget.
Expect us.

Of course, this juvenile anonymous wanna-be is just a symptom of the whole SAVN psyche. These are people who believe that it is OK to threaten those they disagree with and to do it from the protection of anonymity. They are surrounded by thousands of hangers-on who are too gutless to say anything in opposition to the abusers because – well, let’s face it – anyone who belongs to a hate group is themselves a hater. So there are the vocal haters who should be in gaol for their hate crimes and the background haters who should be ashamed of their support and enabling of these criminals.

 

Central NSW Seminar tour – first impressions

A week ago, I came back from a 9-city seminar tour of country NSW. I was very lucky to have had Greg Beattie, author of Fooling Ourselves on the Fundamental Value of Vaccines (this book is available in both hard copy and electronic versions) and Vaccination: A Parent’s Dilemma, join me for 7 of those 9 stops. For those who haven’t heard Greg speak, you don’t know what you’ve been missing! His information on the lack of evidence for ANY contribution vaccines may have made to the decline in deaths from infectious diseases is irrefutable (it comes from the Australian and other international governments). By using graphs plotted from government information which were taken from from his book, Fooling Ourselves, it is easy to see that what we’ve been told about the necessity and effectiveness of vaccination is not based in fact.

This was an amazing, invigorating and totally exhausting 2 weeks!

So many of those we met said they were inspired by our talks and yet, I felt absolutely inspired by meeting them.

A group of people in Moree (our second stop) were motivated to contact a woman who attended our Inverell talk (the first stop) and who runs an organic co-op for information on setting up a similar group in their town which only has one health food store and very little in the way of organic produce. They may also have coffee mornings to provide local support for families who have chosen not to vaccinate and are feeling very isolated in that decision.

A woman in Bathurst visited her local member of parliament and ALL of the local media outlets, asking them why these seminars were not being publicised even though community announcements had been sent to all radio, and television stations as well as to newspapers well in advance of the event. The result of her activism was a large article in one of the local papers and a radio interview as well. She felt so good at having been successful in her efforts, and I felt incredibly supported simply through the fact that she had cared enough to go to the trouble of working on this issue off her own bat!

One of our professional members paid for a copy of our seminar flyer to be published as an ad in the local newspaper. This person did not take this action for any accolades it may have brought them. In fact, if I hadn’t seen a copy of the paper myself, I never would have known! They also paid for several of the practice’s clients to come to the talk because they felt the information was needed by these particular people. How’s that for dedication and doing something for the right reasons?

I will find the time to do a more in-depth analysis of some of the events that took place over the two weeks of our tour including actions by a potential candidate for the Australian Democrats for the seat of New England who harassed the Tamworth Ex-Services Club, asking them to cancel our talk there. The Club was so supportive! They kept a lookout for any trouble (there wasn’t any) and told me that the CEO had told this ‘gentleman’ that the last time he’d checked, Australia was still a democracy which meant that people had the right to express their views without fear of being shut up or shut down. Perhaps the Australian Democrats need to think carefully before allowing this person to be preselected for such an important seat?

Those who attended

And there were indeed two members of Stop the AVN who came to the talks. I will give more information about their appearances in separate blog postings, but there was no trouble from anyone, thank goodness!

The talks were not well attended. Part of that was due to the media not publishing our community announcements and the fact that we did not have the funds to advertise these events otherwise. Part of it was due to an organised campaign by members of Stop the AVN to tear down our posters which had been put up by volunteers and AVN members in these communities.

In one town, we personally put posters up on 3 community bulletin boards at 7 PM. By 10 the next morning, the two that we checked were gone. One of those was behind a glass front in a case! So not only do SAVN want to make it impossible for parents to choose not to vaccinate – they also want to stop them from getting any information that is not fully pro-medical.

In addition to these influences, however, the story we heard over and over again at each venue was that people were afraid to come to AVN talks because:

1- They feared that there could be violence at these events from members of Stop the AVN who are so incredibly vocal about their plans to harass anyone who supports informed choice; and

2- They were afraid that friends might find out they had come to the seminar and as a result, they would be blacklisted in town and their children would be victimised.

Those who did come, often drove long distances – over 2 hours in some cases – to get there. They had to drive home late at night on roads made dangerous by kangaroos and wombats but they did it because they were so hungry for knowledge and support and I thank them from the bottom of my heart!

The medical brown shirts

What has Australia come to when caring parents who have made informed choices in the best interests of their own children have to be afraid to let people know about these choices?

Why is it that parents who know nothing about this issue feel they have the right to berate and abuse families who are well-informed simply because their own fear of diseases has caused them to hate those whose unvaccinated children, they feel, might put their fully vaccinated kids at risk? Where is the logic? Where is the intelligence? Most of all, where is the understanding that in a democracy, we all have the right to make these choices?

I would love to have your input on these issues. Do you have any ideas about how to empower parents to own their health decisions because I can tell you right now, there are many more families in Australia who have decided not to vaccinate then we can tell from the small number of conscientious objectors. Many parents have chosen to forego the childcare payment and the maternity immunisation allowance just so they wouldn’t have to front up to a potentially abusive doctor or clinic nurse to get their conscientious objector form signed. The problem is that they all feel isolated and unsupported and think that they are the only ones who have made that decision.

Where do you stand? If you have chosen to vaccinate your children, are you concerned about them being around unvaccinated kids? If so, why? Do you think that harassment or abuse of non-vaccinating parents is justified and if so, why>

If you have chosen not to vaccinate, are you nervous about sharing that decision with your friends and family? Have you been placed under extreme pressure by your community and / or a medical professional who has – for whatever reason – tried to get you to change your mind?

Lastly, does this sort of pressure make it more or less likely that you will vaccinate? Does harassing parents for their medical choices make them change those choices or just make it more likely that they will go ‘underground’ with their decision and withhold information about their decisions from those around them?

Please let me know where you stand on all of this. All comments will be approved unless they attack someone, use foul language or are abusive.

Bullies only win when we let them…

We teach our children when they are very young to stand up to bullies; that if they stand up to them, most bullies will back down because they are cowards and prefer easy targets.  We also teach our children that we must always help someone that is being bullied and not just turn the other way.  Just recently, I have come to find out that some bullies never grow up and the internet is the perfect place to bully someone without needing the courage to even face your victims.

I wrote an article called “Anti Vaxxer” the new dirty word?” anonymously because I was worried about the backlash that I, and especially my family, may get from these internet bullies, and they did not disappoint…

“There is a reason you are all ridiculed and condemned – you threaten the lives of the community around you. Your ignorant, uneducated decision to eschew vaccines in favour of insanely stupid alternative therapies only deserves contempt.”

“If you refuse a whooping cough vaccine to an infant, and they then catch pertussis, there is a chance that they can die. Child killer indeed.”

” this is sheer nonsense, and only aids in adding to the froth that boils from the mouths of the anti vaccine crowd”

“Anti vaxers seem to get delight from the deaths of infants from VPDs”

“You are all to blame for this, not the government, not the media and certainly not those that oppose your very existence.”

“…you are a group of misinformed, tin foil hat wearing, slobbering  conspiracy theorists.”

“You are a bunch of fringe dwelling conspiracy theorists that have no social conscience”

There is more but it is not really worth repeating any more of this individual’s ranting of hatred and hostility. I think it is plainly obvious that his ranting only helped prove my point.

But what I now feel compelled to do is what I have taught my children to do: step up and face my bullies.

My name is Tasha David and I am the widowed mother of 8 children, 6 of whom were vaccinated and as a result, have neurodevelopmental and autoimmune disorders.  They have suffered from eczema, asthma, psoriasis, chronic ear infections, gastrointestinal disorders (ie chronic diarrhea, chronic constipation and urinary tract infections), food allergies and intolerances, and chemical sensitivities while my 2 youngest unvaccinated children have NONE of their sibling’s disorders.

My two youngest children are the picture of health. None of them have had antibiotics, and only one of them has needed to go to the doctor and that was just to check out the wax build up in his ears.  Watching them thrive is bittersweet. I look at the joy, excitement and wonder that they have for the world and think this is what my other children would have experienced if I had let them grow and develop naturally.

I am also one of the many members who make up the Australian Vaccination Network who have vaccine injured children and who the bullies out there want to silence.  They feel that we have no right to voice our concerns; that our personal experiences are meaningless, and that we shouldn’t even exist!

Who are they to say who has the right to be heard, let alone exist?

Why do they believe that only the information that they deem pertinent should be allowed in the public arena?

Do they not feel that people are capable of making up their own mind about what is right for their own families?

Just as two people can look at the same picture but have two different interpretations, it does not mean that one is wrong and one is right, it is just that they see things differently.

What may be right for your child may not be right for mine, so it is my job as a parent to make that choice for my child, I do not know your child so I have no right to even try to tell you what to do with yours. We all want healthy children, it’s just that we see different ways of achieving this.

What is so hard to understand about this?

I believe with all my heart that people should have the right to choose to vaccinate or not vaccinate, but the choice should always be theirs to make. When you fight to silence another person’s point of view because it contradicts your own then it shows that you do not have faith in your own convictions.

I write this today not for the bullies, but for the parents like me, who are feeling downtrodden, disheartened and persecuted. We cannot let the bullies win.  If we stop asking questions, sharing our personal experiences and supporting each other for fear of ridicule then they have already won.

We must stand up and support each other and ignore the insults and slights from those who would have us cower in fear, do as we have taught our children to do, stand up to the bullies together and take our power back.

We are not fighting for people to stop vaccinating, we are fighting for people’s right to hear all the information available and make their own choices.

I take heart from this quote from Mahatma Gandhi…

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won.  There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall.  Think of it—always.”

Horrible atrocities have occurred in our history when people are allowed to oppress others, and we lose our humanity when we allow this to happen.

This should be no person’s goal for another.

Tasha David

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