Malcolm Turnbull has shot down Pauline Hanson’s assertion the government is blackmailing parents into vaccinating their children.
The prime minister says it’s vital to the health of all Australians that close to the whole population be immunised.
“If parents choose not to vaccinate their children, they are putting their children’s health at risk and every other person’s children’s health at risk too,” Turnbull said.
“It is a vital health objective to ensure that everybody is vaccinated.”
Earlier, One Nation leader Senator Hanson questioned the effectiveness of vaccinations, urging parents to do their own research.
“If this having vaccinations and having measles vaccinations is actually going to stop these diseases, fine, no problems,” she said.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said: “The clear and categorical advice from experts including the chief medical officer, based on decades of research and evidence, is that vaccinations save lives”.
Senator Hanson said the government was “blackmailing” people, a reference to the policy of withholding childcare fee rebates and welfare payments from parents who don’t have their children fully immunised.
“Don’t do that to people. That’s a dictatorship,” she said. “I hear from so many parents, where are their rights?”
Turnbull and Hunt both highlighted the success of the No Jab, No Pay policy, saying it had led to an extra 200,000 children being vaccinated over the past year.
“It’s good news for kids, their families, and the community,” Hunt said.
Labor’s health spokeswoman Catherine King was appalled to hear Hanson’s comments.
“They aren’t just wrong, they are dangerous,” she wrote on Twitter.
Appalled to hear Pauline Hanson's comments re vaccination on #insiders. They aren't just wrong – they are dangerous. Gvt needs to condemn
— Catherine King MP (@CatherineKingMP) March 4, 2017
Former Australian Medical Association president Brian Owler said Hanson was “dangerous and ignorant”.
“Vaccination (is) the most effective public health measure ever,” the pediatric neurosurgeon wrote on Twitter.
— Brian Owler (@BrianOwler) March 4, 2017
Hanson’s advice was “uninformed, dangerous and insulting” and it was disgraceful that an Australian politician could endanger children like that, he said.
Hanson vaccination stance branded ‘crazy’
Pauline Hanson must apologise and retract her “crazy” comments on vaccinations, a former federal health department head says.
Stephen Duckett said he was “disgusted” when the senator questioned their effectiveness and encouraged parents to do their own research.
“This is a situation where you’ve got a popular politician with a significant following who’s actually giving crazy, crazy medical advice,” he said. “She has to apologise and retract that statement.”
Hanson also said parents should be allowed to have their children tested before booking vaccinations.
“Some of these parents are saying vaccinations have an effect on some children,” she said.
But Duckett, who is now director of health at the Grattan Institute policy think tank, rejected this.
“Vaccines are safe,” he said. “I cannot stress how angry it makes one feel that she is putting lives at risk … without any evidence whatsoever.”Do you have an idea for a story?
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