Are Meryl Dorey’s critics really against free speech?

Well, they’ve (The Australian Skeptics) actually said it. It’s been said several times. We don’t have freedom of speech in Australia. Many of them have said that and I have quotes on the internet, you can see it.

Meryl Dorey speaking to Tiga Bayles on Let’s Talk 98.9 FM, 19th December 2011

Meryl Dorey has never been one for facts. Recently her claim that her critics, “say that we don’t have freedom of speech in Australia” (Let’s Talk transcript), has lurched into full gallop. It’s always been around as a demonstrable distortion of documented facts, which I’ll get onto. It pops up on Facebook during tirades to fellow members or on her website posts where it sits in competition with “health fascism”, how “disease mongering” is profitable, that the pharmaceutical industry is in “a secret pact with mainstream medicine” or stupidly comparing herself to the bogus “Lord” Monckton.

Those of us following Woodford Festival’s ill conceived decision to host this threat to public health as an “expert” on such a crucial health topic as vaccination, will be familiar with the “free speech means free pass” argument. Dr. Rachael Dunlop made the following observation writing on ABC’s The Drum:

The argument that has been circulating in favour of letting Dorey speak at the festival has been one of free speech. But this is not about free speech.

Dorey is entitled to voice her opinions but not her own facts. And when a public health warning has been issued about her information, it is the responsibility of the festival organisers to make people aware that she is not an authority on vaccination, that her information has been deemed misleading and she does not support you getting your kids vaccinated.

You could argue suppressing my right to yell “fire!” in a crowded cinema is also about free speech, but when people’s safety is at risk, common sense must prevail.

We’re also entering the 5th year of a pertussis epidemic which began in Ms. Dorey’s hunting grounds and from there spread across Australia. The festival attracts lovers of alternative thinking who can only be harmed by Ms. Dorey’s manipulative diatribes. As such, the organisers of Woodford Festival made an extremely poor, ignorant judgement call and are now complicit in risking Australian health.

Dorey’s talk and opposition to it have little to do with free speech. As I contended recently, her track record of scams, misappropriation of funds, exploitation of members, copyright abuse, lying to the media and much more reveal a cowardly bottom rung con artist who makes an easy living by misleading Aussie citizens and authorities. Her disdain for our laws and insult to our intelligence is blindingly obvious. Charity fraud (including misappropriation of business names), copyright abuse and non compliance with health authority legislation/regulation carry feather touch penalties.

The other fairly outrageous caper I find irksome is how Dorey lies to those who lend support. Those who trust her to tell the truth. She’s a convincing speaker, making her victims easy game. This angle to her grossness literally blossomed as Dorey took Tiga Bayles for a goose, abusing his not insignificant ignorance and blind trust almost ferociously. Tiga simply believed what she said and replied accordingly.

In a sad turn of events Tiga is denied any facts and quickly made the fool. By show’s end he’s almost worshiping at Dorey’s feet, convinced she is fighting “the haters”. Added to this is the sheer volume of effort given by Meryl Dorey toward misleading Tiga about her critics. If she has such a vital role to play in promoting “informed choice”, can’t she just knuckle down and get on with it?

Putting the AVN aside entirely, I always find it a bad sign when one agent has to define their own qualities by highlighting what are supposedly negative qualities in an opposing agent. For Meryl Dorey, the libellous and slanderous attacks on her critics have now become an indispensable binary dance of her own making.

Scarcely moments into the show Dorey misleads the audience and once again leaves little doubt as to why she must be challenged and held accountable:

We have the Health Minister in Queensland saying that it’s nonsense to look at the other side of the vaccination issue. And the National Health and Medical Research Council, which is the government body that’s involved with this, says that you have to be able to make an informed choice. So all we’re doing is trying to support what the National Health and Medical Research Council says, and allow people to make an informed choice. If doctors and the government were doing their job, we wouldn’t even have to be here. I could be off having fun with my family and instead I’m sitting here working. [….]

…. but there is an organisation called the Australian Skeptics, and they set up about three years ago a sub-group called “Stop the AVN”…. They just think everyone should vaccinate, just listen to your doctor, nobody who is not a doctor is able or has a right to talk about this information…. And they say that we don’t have freedom of speech in Australia, which is not correct. [….]

But people need to be aware of what vaccines they are giving their children, why they’re vaccinating and how effective and how safe the vaccines are. And this organisation, Stop the AVN, says you’re not entitled to know that. And I think that people should be aware that there is such a strong push, from a very small section of the community, to stop them from being informed.

All of this is false and Dorey knows it to be. If SAVN are recommending listening to one’s doctor, how can they also say people aren’t entitled to know “how effective and how safe the vaccines are”? That’s exactly what critics of vaccine deniers wish people to know. The show transcript is a cornucopia of infuriating lies, and we need to expose the genesis of Dorey’s musings on opposition to free speech. However, it must be said clearly that linking Stop The AVN with Australian Skeptics actually occurs only in Meryl Dorey’s mind.

SAVN was set up by a private individual after Meryl Dorey harassed the grieving parents of an infant who died from pertussis. Dorey demanded access to the infant’s medical records and contended that Paul Corben, Director of Public Health at the North Coast Area Health Service misled the public by confirming a pertussis fatality. Corben wrote to the family:

Ms. Dorey called me on the 12th of March seeking details of your daughter’s illness and death… Ms. Dorey contended that I had misled the public in attributing your daughter’s death to pertussis.

Despite Corben’s clear email to this effect Dorey simply denies it. What ensued was a vindictive letter writing campaign and visits to family members by AVN intimates. It was not until The Australian Skeptics awarded Ms. Dorey the 2009 Bent Spoon Award for the traditional annual celebration of the perpetrator of the most preposterous piece of paranormal or pseudo-scientific piffle, that Dorey’s hatred for all things skeptical was unleashed. Perhaps Meryl has difficulty accepting just how many critics she has. Yet I suspect painting this picture of a looming enemy is not only compulsory for conspiracy theorists, but far easier than providing evidence.

Dorey continued to mislead Tiga regarding free speech:

Tiga: […] And it’s our right as parents and family members to be making free and informed decisions, and give free and informed consent, if we disagree.

Meryl: They disagree with what you’ve just said. They say we don’t have freedom of speech and you don’t have a right to say no.

Tiga: And by the way, Phil said, no the skeptics don’t tell lies, well, he didn’t say they don’t tell lies, he said they don’t say there isn’t any freedom of speech, they might imply that.

Meryl: Well, they’ve actually said it. It’s been said several times. We don’t have freedom of speech in Australia. Many of them have said that and I have quotes on the internet, you can see it.

Tiga: But even to imply it, Meryl.

Meryl: Well, it’s more than implication because they actually have said that.

A caller, Phil, had quite honestly said that it may be implied (as Dorey is doing) that freedom of speech is opposed by those who object to demonstrable falsehoods capable of harm, being voiced without contest. Here’s the exchange:

Tiga: And the skeptics… is it right then what Meryl… was Meryl correct when she said the skeptics say that we don’t have freedom of speech. Is that something the skeptics would say? In this regard?

Phil: Well, it may be implied. But this isn’t a freedom of speech issue.

Tiga: But it may be implied, Okay.

Later Dorey and Tiga excel themselves:

Tiga: What are these people, like governments, doctors, Stop the Australian Vaccination Network, the skeptics, what are these people when it’s controlling, and the haters that are out there. What’s the difference, probably even much better off under a communist system.

Meryl: That’s right. There isn’t any difference. And Stop the AVN is a hate group. They definitely are. They act like a hate group, they’re abusive, they’re bullies. So, yeah, I agree with you 100% with what you’re saying and it’s anti-democratic. You know, in a democracy we do have this right to choose, we do have the right to speak, so anyone who says we’re not is not democratic, and I think we all want to live in a democracy.

I recommend browsing the transcript. Or you may download the entire 45 minute audio here (or listen below) and make up your own minds about pre-show collusion, Tiga’s arguably conspiratorial anti-medicine beliefs and Meryl’s hilarious claims that she doesn’t lie nor object to the position of doctors defending vaccination. There’s monumental abuse of indigenous health realities from both sides. A few moments of listening hint that Tiga is far too proud to ever admit what a fool Dorey has made of him.

So, what is the source of Dorey’s claim that her critics would deny free speech? Would any academics or critics seriously advance such a primitive notion? Is Dorey cognizant of perhaps a different reality, that exposes this position as an intentional lie? Or could she prove (as intimated) that critics of anti-vaccination propaganda, “say we don’t have freedom of speech and you don’t have a right to say no”?

It’s possible to turn this right around and find that the evidence shows something quite different. Meryl Dorey is really about saying what she wants even if it has been shown to harm individuals or society in general.

In his complaint to the HCCC Mr. Ken McLeod addressed the issue of AVN free speech on page 6. [Item 5] Is the AVN protected by a right of free speech?

Contrary to the perceptions of an Australian public raised on a diet of Hollywood movies, there is no right of free speech in the Australian Constitution. On the contrary, Australian legislation and case law are littered with restrictions on speech, from contempt of parliament, national security, contempt of Court, sub judice rules, criminal defamation, breach of copyright, racial vilification, etc. For example, see Jones v Frederick Toben.

In 2002, a judge of the Federal Court of Australia found that Töben’s website “vilified Jewish people”, and ordered Töben to remove offensive material from his site. In May 2009, he was sentenced to three months in jail by Justice Bruce Lander after being found guilty of 24 charges of contempt, in that he continued to publish offensive views in defiance of Court orders {Jones v Toben [2009] FCA 354}.

Likewise, cancer quack Jillian Margaret Newlands has been ordered by the Queensland Supreme Court to cease providing her quack cancer cure and dangerous advice, such as advising clients not to seek chemotherapy treatment. [Public Statement by Qld Minister for Tourism and Fair Trading Peter Lawlor, Thursday, April 23, 2009 “Unregistered health provider ordered to stop misleading cancer patients”]

So, in Australia, one is entitled to free speech provided that one does not harm an individual or society in general. As Oliver Wendell Holmes USA CJ, put it so succinctly;

“The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theatre.” [Source]

The AVN is clearly harming individuals and society and is not protected by any right of free speech. Indeed, by explicitly including “health education” in the Health Care Complaints Act, speech is clearly not protected here, as speech is necessarily a part of the education process.

In her reply to the HCCC Ms. Dorey accuses Mr. McLeod of a “jihad-like mentality” (yet maintains taking offence at the term “quack”) and offers, Response to Section 5 of the McLeod Complaint – So Called Right of “Free Speech”;

Contrary to Mr McLeod’s ʻAmerican TVʼ version of Constitutional Law (under which he has adopted foreign terms such as “Right to Free Speech” derived from the US Constitution), there is in fact an implied freedom of communication and discussion on political and government affairs contained in the Australian Constitution and embodied within the federal system of government…. It has been found by the High Court of Australia that these sections, when read in context, provide that members of the Senate and the House of Representatives to be directly chosen at elections by the people and that therefore this requirement embraces all that is necessary to effectuate the free election of representatives at periodic elections, including the right to unfettered communication and discussion of all matters relating to government and public policy [Citation].

Freedom of communication on matters of government and politics has been determined by the High Court as being an indispensable incident of the system of representative government that the Constitution creates…. This freedom of communication and discussion is protected against the exercise of federal and state legislative and executive power and extends to all those who participate in ʻpoliticalʼ discussion (such as the AVN) and therefore is not limited only to electors and elected [Citation].

… The High Court has extended this freedom of communication on matters of government and politics extends to all non-verbal conduct [Citation], which would include content on the AVN website and all published materials of the AVN which is the subject of this complaint from Mr McLeod.

It is submitted that the HCCC should approach this complaint with this attitude of balance, and act to responsibly and lawfully when weighing up the competing interests at stake in the circumstances regarding the subject of this complaint. The High Court cases cited above confirm that the HCCC has a constitutional obligation to ensure that the ʻgag orderʼ and other similar provisions of the Health Care Complaints Act are not attempted to be implemented in response to this complain (sic) in a way that would offend or restrict the AVN’s constitutionally protected freedom of political expression. [….]

In closing on this particular subject, I submit a statement made by the Foreign Minister, Stephen Smith, as quoted in August 22nd, 2009 edition of the Daily Telegraph. In a speech before Federal Parliament, Mr Smith stated that, “We understand, respect and recognise free speech. We value the capacity of someone to come to our country and say things, even if we do not agree.”

The full epic ramble covers three pages most of which I have spared you. Dorey failed to address Mr. McLeods argument on free speech content that may be inherently malignant. Instead an irrelevant attempt to suggest that the AVN engages in political discussion akin to “communication on matters of government and politics”, is made repeatedly.

In aligning herself with “an implied freedom of communication and discussion on political and government affairs contained in the Australian Constitution and embodied within the federal system of government”, Dorey assumes quite some self-promotion. The citations are related to media outlets and political speech as implied by the constitution, both during and outside of election time, qualified privilege and publication without malice, amongst others.

In short Ms. Dorey seems to have little grasp on the notion of responsible free speech. Ken McLeod has made a very good case as to why free speech despite it’s great value must not be abused or used as a tool of demonstrable harm. Meryl Dorey sees her role as so lofty, the HCCC should stand back and make way. It’s arrogant in the extreme and speaks volumes as to how Dorey sees herself.

Nonetheless that is the source of Dorey’s repeated claims that “the skeptics”, of which Ken is not a member and SAVN, “say that we don’t have freedom of speech in Australia”. Item 5, page 6 of a complaint raised against Meryl Dorey. Period.

It is clear that the HCCC agreed with McLeod’s version, having reviewed Dorey’s material and finding her a risk to public health. Dorey is entirely cognizant of the above. Yet she has again chosen to misrepresent the facts in an attempt to cast opponents as malignant. At worst this is a dispute over the interpretation of free speech under the Australian Constitution.

Using free speech to lie to Tiga Bayles about free speech in such a manner as to intentionally engender ill will and hatred toward others is perhaps the most eloquent justification as to why Ms. Dorey must be stopped from speaking to the detriment of others. What she should say is:

I, Meryl Dorey believe I have a right to say what I want regardless of the consequences to individuals or society and hide behind this as “free speech”.

That is what the evidence shows and it’s backed by her conduct. In essence Dorey is shouting “fire” in a crowded theatre and wants to keep doing so.

One repetitive issue did come up again. As I’ve noted earlier, Dorey believes Nicola Roxon’s recent announcement on immunisation incentives should have led with instructions on how to become a conscientious objector. As if the health minister should be actively promoting disease, disability and epidemics. She had Tiga fired up in no time:

Tiga: So, the government is responsible also for misinformation.

Meryl: Very much so. And we’re going to be complaining about that, but unfortunately what happens is you complain to the Ombudsman, and the Ombudsman says, oh well, tell the minister for health about this. It’s the Minister for Health who’s misinforming people in the first place. So there’s really no way to complain.

Tiga: Typical.

It’s hard to find analogues to this. Perhaps media announcements on how to get exemptions from total fire bans should take precedence over any warnings? Life savers pointing out where the most dangerous rips are outside the flagged zone? SES telling residents where to hide from rescuers as bush fire tears into town? Light houses leading you onto the rocks?

Meryl Dorey’s idea of free and responsible speech is a dangerous one.

Meryl Dorey’s upcoming Woodford Festival whooping cough trick

At risk of flogging a dead myth it’s worth keeping up deconstructing Meryl Dorey’s falsehoods as they keep arising.

In the near future on radio and most likely at Woodford, Dorey will trot out the old shuffled pertussis vaccination vs notification statistics to argue the vaccine is ineffective. The pertussis trick has been a standard for years but since September 2009, we’ve had access to her data sets when she used them in response to the HCCC regarding complaints raised about her. I’ve looked at each incarnation of this trick, which has scarcely changed.

Her claim begins by pointing out that in 1989-90 just before compulsory notification of pertussis began in 1991, immunisation was 71% (figure 1). This figure is sourced from the top table below, which provides figures from 3 ABS surveys of children 0 – 6 years. [Zoom resolution here].

The bottom table shows that coverage has risen to 95% for the cohort January 1st – March 31st, 2006 in children 2 years and under. It’s from Communicable Diseases Intelligence 2007;31:333. It also informs us the assessment date is June 30, 2008. You can find the same here in Dorey’s submission to the HCCC on page 6.

Figure 1

In replying to the HCCC Dorey referred to the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS) figures for pertussis which now includes data to 2011 (Figure 2). [Zoom resolution here]. Her claim continues on, using the two data sources. Although retold countless times, I’ll be scrupulous and quote from Dorey herself on page 6 of her HCCC reply:

Since the AVN was established, Australia has experienced an increase of over 23% in our rate of vaccination against whooping cough with a concurrent increase in the incidence of this disease of almost 40 times. Please refer to the Australian government graphs below:

For our purposes these “government graphs” are figures 1 and 2. Sure enough, as we can see below the notification rate in 1991 is 332 and the rate in 2008 is 14,292. But… 2007 has a rate of only 4,864, 2006 has a rate of 9,764. 2005 has a rate of 11,165. And 1996 (12 years earlier) has a rate of 12, 237.

What we see going back are the peaks and troughs associated with pertussis infection and control familiar to the developed world. We also know the present epidemic began in 2008. Before this, 2007 had the least notifications in eight years. In fact according to this table (pertussis per 100,000) it’s the lowest since 1992.

Figure 2

The operative words here are “concurrent increase”. Ms.Dorey frequently palms this off as a steady, correlating increase in infection when the figures show nothing of the sort. There are many problems with this approach. She is using entirely unrelated data sets. The NNDSS data tell us nothing about vaccination or immunity of subjects. There are 18 age groups in NNDSS data. One of Dorey’s vaccination tables in figure 1 covers two age groups only, the other table covers half of the youngest NNDSS age group.

The 1991 and 1992 notification figures are so low as to be anomalies. This is the normal when a disease is placed on the “notifiable” list and practitioners adjust to new requirements.

But now, let’s return to the ABS pertussis vaccination figures Dorey kindly provided. After a slight drop from the 71% she kindly points out, we reach 2001 – a full decade after notifications began – with a pertussis vaccination rate of only 71.6%. This is most cunning on Dorey’s part.

A 0.6% increase in ten years. Why even bother with the first decade? Why not choose 2001 with a notification rate of 9,541 (almost twice that of 2007)?

Clearly it is rank selection of data to convey a falsehood about pertussis vaccination. Exactly as the HCCC have stated. Applying Ms. Dorey’s logic to 2001 and 2007 vaccination and notification rates one can argue a reduction of almost 50% in pertussis infection, with virtually the same increase in immunisation levels. We can see with rising vaccination there has been no “corresponding increase in the incidence of this disease”.

In fact, we have 71.6% coverage in 2001. And 95% in 2006. Both provided by Dorey. That’s five years, but she chooses to cite the 1990 figure of 70% from the upper table, and the assessment date of June 2008 in the lower table of figure 1. Why? Because the initial year of notification (1991) is absurdly small, and 2008 is the beginning of an epidemic.

Indeed, a close look at notification rates in Figure 2 shows comparable rates in the first and second decades, excluding only the epidemic which began in 2008. Ms. Dorey really needs to explain how these figures can be expected to justify her claim.

Next comes age groups, and our understanding as to why Dorey never mentions them. Most infections in Australia are in adults with no immunity. Her 95% in figure 1 applies only to under 2 year olds. This is half of one age group out of the 18 provided by the NNDSS. We know immunity begins to wane certainly by about age ten (if not earlier) and that adults are definitely in need of a booster. In effect most pertussis notifications are from those with no immunity. Figure 3 is pertussis notifications for 2007 (pre-epidemic) by age and sex [Zoom here]:

Figure 3

In any year (including epidemic years) most notifications come from adults. Rather than pointing to total figures Ms. Dorey should be honest and admit that most infections come from the adult population with an immunisation rate of only 11.3%. See page 18, Adult Immunisation Survey. This is insufficient to provide herd immunity.

Adults may show no symptoms or very mild symptoms and not seek any care. What this means is that adult infection levels are higher than notification levels. It’s important to stress that Meryl Dorey will cite infant or childhood vaccination levels, but most notifications come from adults. Ms. Dorey’s claim of total infections casting doubt on 95% of childhood vaccination is again found wanting.

The fact that 0 – 4 is the highest childhood age cohort and comparable with adults of over 30 is due to newborns being unvaccinated and not completing the schedule for many weeks. This places them at extended risk.

So, even giving Dorey’s dodgy data sets a fair run they still fail on a number of fronts to deliver the goods. In fact they undermine her so-called proof. Infections come from non immunised, and as we’ll see below reduction in childhood immunisation is catastrophic. She has some explaining to do.

We know the pertussis vaccine is not a magic bullet and that vaccinated children can catch pertussis as immunity wanes. In general they develop much milder symptoms and are not at risk of death and disability as are unvaccinated infants and small toddlers. It is crucial to ensure vigilance against waning immunity. Boosters should be considered.

Low immunisation levels have been linked to the present outbreak. Tragically it’s been known for quite some time that this epidemic is likely to have begun in Meryl Dorey’s backyard – where she has her greatest influence. The SMH reported in October 2010:

The highest rates of so-called “conscientious objectors” to immunisation are in parts of the north coast – such as Byron Bay – where 12 per cent of children born between 2001 and 2007 were never immunised for any condition. […]

An epidemic of whooping cough in 2008 and 2009 began on the north coast. It quickly swept across the state driven by low vaccination rates in some wealthy parts of Sydney. Low-income areas in western Sydney also had less immunisation and were linked to outbreaks, Dr Menzies said.

California is also experiencing an epidemic on the back of reduced immunisation levels. Dorey recently posted this Californian article about waning pertussis immunity on Facebook, claiming it indicated an ineffective pertussis vaccine. She omitted Dr. Carol Baker:

In QLD where Woodford holds it’s festival? From November last year. Outbreak in QLD as parents snub vaccination:

PARENTS who refuse to vaccinate their children are contributing to the worst whooping cough outbreak on record in Queensland, with notifications likely to exceed 7000 this year.

Four to 8 per cent of children on the Sunshine Coast are registered as so-called “conscientious objectors”, meaning their parents refuse to immunise them. […] Whooping cough is deadly to babies who are too young to be vaccinated. One in 200 babies who contract whooping cough will die.

The advice from all states and federal health authorities is to immunise and ensure immunity is up to scratch with boosters. The outbreak in Australia is due to low immunisation levels and waning immunity in children who have been vaccinated.

The last person to trust is Meryl Dorey.

Meryl Dorey and the Woodford “free speech, democracy” thing

The comments of Joe Stella, editor of The Daily Grind on ABC’s The Drum [December 13th, 2011] on the topic of free speech, highlights Ms. Dorey’s abuse of democratic freedoms.

He chips in here at 1:40, and the same video can be found on yesterday’s post. His blurb on Dorey’s appearance at Woodford is:

It’s up to individuals in the audience to go seek out alternative views if they so want. It isn’t a university or public school… it’s a festival. Everyone’s entitled to their views no matter how wrong. […] It’s perfectly fine in a democratic country for people to be wrong.

And I really er, obviously she’s a nutter and vaccinate your kids and that’s all very important, but the tenor of those who oppose her right to speak, saying ‘oh she should have a disclaimer on her website before she can put her views’, or ‘she shouldn’t be allowed to speak in public’, ah, I find that really unsettling in a democratic society.

Mr. Stella exhibits a poor appreciation of the dynamics pertaining to the HCCC request that Ms. Dorey place a notice revealing her anti-vaccination position on her website. The AVN qualifies as a health service in NSW and is thus subject to the HCCC mandate. This qualification as a health service has been established in the NSW Supreme Court during the AVN appeal against the HCCC decision. This was conceded in court by Ms. Dorey herself on July 28th, 2011.

The HCCC decision was backed by Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Dr. John Carnie, speaking on ABC’s The World Today, July 13th, 2010. Our TGA’s Complaints Resolution Panel investigates breaches of the Therapeutic Goods advertising code and when complaints are upheld, requests for notices to be published on the offending site. Would Joe Stella suggest this is also a matter of “tenor” that we should “find really unsettling in a democratic society”?

If anything, it is the toothless tiger status of health regulators that has been shown up as a problem time and again. Retraction demands are simply ignored by colleagues of Ms. Dorey, in the full knowledge the drain on public funding renders it not in the community interest to prosecute. Had Dorey doused her ego in cold water and ignored the HCCC and their public health warning her right to deceive Aussies and place community health at risk would be just as in tact as it remains today, minus the scathing public attention.

It’s almost an Aussie tradition when it comes to alternatives to medicine. They lie about efficacy or evidence, someone complains, the complaint is upheld, a request to publish a retraction or warning is made, they point and laugh at the impotent request and life returns to normal.

Ms. Dorey’s right to speak freely has never been a factor. It is her refusal to comply with authority that concerns her critics. That underscores the recklessness of providing a platform to a skilled manipulator who snubs simple laws that everyday Australians comply with daily.

In revoking the AVN’s Charitable Fundraising Licence (October 20th, 2010), the NSW Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing acknowledged the HCCC decision and Ms. Dorey’s refusal to comply. In doing so they found that consumers may be misled into making donations, or purchasing membership “in good faith”. The import of this decision is reinforced by the fact that the OLGR found 23 breaches of the Charitable Fundraising Act 1991, following a 2010 audit of The Australian Vaccination Network. Charity fraud.

The Northern Star reported at the time that the AVN provided a media release which:

…said the OLGR had found several errors with the network’s bookkeeping system and some minor problems with the way in which fundraising income was accounted for.


“Had the OLGR based its decision upon the simple errors which were found during our audit – errors which any small, volunteer-run organisation can and does make – it would have been unfair but not unexpected,” Ms Dorey said.

“What makes this decision difficult to understand is that the revocation was based solely upon a questionable decision by the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) which we believe is not relevant to the OLGR’s mandate.”

So, how did we get from “errors which any small, volunteer-run organisation can and does make” to 23 breaches of the Act? Was it really “based solely” upon the HCCC decision? Here’s Dorey’s famous email to members in which she copies and pastes items a, c and f from the OLGR’s letter of revocation, forgetting that readers may wonder just what items b, d, e and any other content may have referred to.

From that day forth Dorey’s claim to members has been this consistent deceit. The HCCC do not have authority. The OLGR decision is based on the HCCC’s “illegal” investigation and thus also carries no weight. Only 6 days ago Dorey informed her rapid turnover membership, via her various internet outlets, of The attack against the AVN – a repeat of the information:

It has been brought to my attention that newer readers may not be aware of the circumstances behind the warning by the HCCC against the AVN…. The HCCC does not have the authority to recommend that the AVN put this or any other statement on its website…. The HCCC has adopted pro-vaccination assumptions and values. In other words, it has adopted a partisan position. That is not its role.

By issuing a public warning about the AVN, the HCCC overstepped its mandate…. The complaints to the HCCC against the AVN are part of a systematic campaign to shut down the AVN…. Those who have attacked the AVN have ridiculed and slandered AVN members, made false claims about their beliefs, made numerous complaints to a variety of official bodies, and made personal threats against individuals. The HCCC has allowed itself to be a tool of opponents of the AVN.

If Ms. Dorey cannot accept the “tenor” of the NSW Supreme Court and the role of public health authorities, then defending her as a matter of democratic integrity is quite ambitious. She has conceded herself that the AVN indeed falls under the HCCC mandate. Regarding the constant myth of personal threats made against her by complainants, Howard Sattler raised this with Dorey last year:

Or download audio here.

Before a group of fed up volunteers exercised their democratic freedoms, the simple fact is that the AVN and Dorey had run amok for close to 17 years. Donations had been continually asked for and received for a Bounty Bag insert that didn’t exist. Bounty Bags themselves had never heard of this and would never entertain antivaccination propaganda. On page 18 of Meryl Dorey’s trouble with the truth Pt. 1, Ken McLeod reports on Dorey’s charity fraud:

Meryl Dorey’s Yahoo! Group Message #29638 of 41210 dated Mon May 29, 2006 7:16
“Hi All,
In the latest edition of Informed Voice, we put out a call for funds because we desperately want to be able to accomplish some very specific goals of reaching more people with our information and also hopefully, getting more members/readers – you name it. The goals were as follows: Need to raise approximately $20,000 over the next 12 months to successfully lobby Federal Parliament for chages (sic) to legislation taking away the need for parents to see doctors in order to register as conscientious objectors to vaccination $17,000 would allow us to advertise our services and our magazine in the Bounty bag. This information is currently given out to every woman who births in hospital in Australia – exactly the people who need our information the most!” “your donation will go towards the ability to offer our services and our magazine in the Bounty Bag which is given to every woman who births in hospital.”

The Internet Archive shows that this appeal has appeared on the AVN’s website since 3 February 2007. The same appeal appeared in Meryl Dorey’s emails, in the AVN magazine “Living Wisdom” and the AVN HPV brochure. This appeal remained on the AVN website until 17 July 2010.

Well, “your donation” didn’t go toward women “who need our information the most!”. This is not free speech. This is outright calculated fraud, running for years, that highlights Dorey’s disdain for, and exploitation of her members, the Australian public and new mothers. And what does such conduct say about her ongoing claim of helping Australians make an informed choice beyond sheer mockery? More so, there has been no lobbying of Federal Parliament to seek changes in the requirements for conscientious objection.

Does Meryl Dorey seriously think her necon’ ramblings about “illegal” HCCC investigations and “a systematic campaign to shut down the AVN” can expunge the import of such outright crime? Other smaller brand names have been abused in this manner also. Added to this are breaches of copyright that Dorey put down to “ignorance”. Ignorance? Not likely. On September 1st, 2010 Kate Benson in the SMH wrote:

An anti-vaccination group is under fire for allegedly breaching copyright laws by selling newspaper and medical journal articles online without permission from the authors. […]

The packs, which were selling for up to $128, included home-made books filled with articles photocopied from journals around the world, information on drugs taken from MIMS, the medical guide used by doctors and nurses, and copies of brochures inserted in medication boxes by pharmaceutical companies. […]

Dorey continues to sell articles in the AVN shop that are available freely elsewhere online. Frequently they are available on the author’s own website. The same can be said for videos. For sale from Dorey or watch online at the click of a mouse. Of the antivaccination, conspiracy theory, HIV/AIDS denial, fluoride fear mongering, fake cancer cures and pro-Scientology/anti-psychiatry books on sale virtually all are available cheaper elsewhere.

Despite the pleas of impartiality, the rank offence and mockery is at times breathtaking. As reported by reasonablehank, Dorey recently wrote, in a pitch to sell an AIDS denialist’s DVD:

In honour of Australia winning the ‘right’ to play host to a huge international conference on AIDS and HIV, here is a DVD that will give you information on the origin of and treatments for this disease that is being blamed for tens of millions of deaths since the 1980s.

Dorey is documented as scamming her members out of $12,000 for a non-existent “vaccine-autism” advertisement in 2009. In 2008 she milked the emotion of members in a dramatic telling of a family with a baby newly born to a hepatitis B positive mother “on the run from vaccination”. Whilst the situation was factual Dorey made Peter Foster look like an amateur as she relayed “reports” from the father, took full credit for saving them from DOCS and terrified members with tales that this could happen to anyone. Unless of course, the AVN was funded. The “fighting fund” she opened immediately, made almost $12,000.

Incredibly Dorey then informed her members of her intention to breach the Charitable Trusts Act 1993:

If you did make a donation but we haven’t heard from you by 7th October 2008 about this matter, we will assume that you have no objection to the AVN utilising your contribution for the administrative and operational purposes of the AVN and the Living Wisdom magazine.

The OLGR reported [bold mine]:

During the course of the inquiry evidence of possible breaches of the Charitable Trusts Act 1993 was detected in relation to the following specific purpose appeals conducted by AVN:

Fighting Fund – to support a homeless family, allegedly seeking to avoid a court order to immunise a child with legal and living expenses. The appeal ran for a short time in 2008 and raised $11,810. None of the funds were spent on this purpose.

Advertising Appeal – initially this was an appeal for the specific purpose of raising funds for an advertisement in the Australian commencing in March 2009 and concluding July 2009. The specific purpose was changed during the course of the appeal to fund advertisements in Child magazine. This appeal raised $11,910. None of the funds were applied to the specific purposes. It is noted that AVN did spend some $15,000 during the period December 2009 to July 2010 on various forms of advertising.

Bounty Bag Program and Vaccination Testing – for a number of years AVN has solicited for donations generally in a manner where, despite it not being AVN’s intention, one specific purpose was created in that donations could only be spent on one or more of four purposes, including funding the provision of AVN material in the Bounty Bag program and testing of vaccines. No funds raised have been spent on these two purposes.

It’s anyone’s guess how many scams Dorey has gotten away with. A favourite fiction of mine is that which she launched within weeks after the family on the run story ended. She’d had calls from nurses who’d been “forced into vaccinating” despite prior adverse reactions, she lied. Their new “life threatening” reactions were mysteriously dismissed by hospital staff. But with her trusty Google, Meryl Dorey diagnosed Lupus Panniculitis. Oh my, what could be done?!

In a master stroke Dorey announced “Pain Free Funding”:

A couple of our members have recently donated part of their Maternity Immunisation Allowance to us. They said that without the AVN’s lobbying Parliament to get legislation put through to ensure their rights to government entitlements, they wouldn’t have this money or the Childcare Allowance anyway so they felt that we deserved part of it for our support of them. We thought this was a great idea! If you are in a position to give us a portion of your Maternity Allowance, we would be very grateful – just one more idea that hopefully won’t put too big a hole in anyone’s pocket.

I think even the silliest of us can see the HCCC decision played only a minor role in the OLGR’s revocation of the AVN’s charitable fundraising status. In view of the above it is clear that the AVN present a cleverly deceptive face to the Australian public, creating the illusion of authority and authenticity on the topic of vaccination.

Australians have a right to expect our health and charity regulators will act when culpable individuals and organisations exploit laxity in existing legislation. Particularly for their own ideological and financial benefit, with no regard for the consequences of their actions. There’s far more going on here than someone exercising their democratic right to free speech.

New Yorker Meryl Dorey snubs our legislation, exploits loopholes and publically abuses our regulatory bodies. She makes a dishonest living from scamming and lying to Aussies.

Seeking to impede or put an end to this is no threat to our democracy and no threat to free speech.

Meryl Dorey at Woodford Festival discussed on The Drum

This woman is so laughably wrong that it almost seems cruel to get stuck into her… but when kids don’t get vaccinated, kids die”.

Cassandra Wilkinson, ex Labor staffer

Steve Canane hosts Cassandra Wilkinson, Joe Stella and Peter Black in a discussion on the merits of vaccine denier and “obviously crazy…. nutter” Meryl Dorey’s booking to speak at the upcoming Woodford Folk Festival.

The Drum discuss Dorey at Woodford

Wisdom of Meryl Dorey on measles and pertussis

Woodford Folk Festival Promote Dangerous Anti-Vaccination Myths

That’s a Blue Lotus flower. Beautiful isn’t it?

The perfect delicate corolla of petals opening up as if to embrace as much of nature as possible whilst it presents that corona or crown of pollen for harvest. For a short time it will maintain this wonderful display and then subside to make way for the next generation.

Humans have appreciated it’s beauty for thousands of years. Essential to life and death ceremonies, Egyptian artwork shows the priest Nebsini holding and gazing deeply into a Blue Lotus. Beautiful noble women reclining in splendor are also depicted holding the long stem, gazing as if hypnotised into it’s centre. The most important cultivated plant of ancient Egypt it was the flower of the water lilies that grew in the Nile. Nymphaea caerulea. The Egyptian water lily.

In Egyptian mythology it was believed to be the original container of the sun gods Atum and Ra. To Buddhists all Lotus flowers symbolise divine birth as they represent purity and spontaneity. The Blue Lotus itself represents:

The symbol of the victory of the spirit over the senses, of intelligence and wisdom, of knowledge

It contains the alkaloids nuciferene and aporphine which have mildly sedating effects. It is thought to be the plant eaten by Lotophagi in Homer’s Odyssey. “Loto” – lotus. “Phagi” – to eat. It is a favourite compound for aromatherapy and can be used to produce perfumes. Little wonder the Blue Lotus is a favourite of those who seek a more natural path in life and is often used to represent new age pursuits or brands. Blue Lotus means something to alternative mindsets.

Little wonder the guys at the Woodford Folk Festival extracted the essence of marketing from the Blue Lotus as it’s more modern property to claim with a straight face:

Pick up a steaming cup of herbal tea and head to the Blue Lotus, the Festival’s home of healing. Talks, workshops and forums invite conversation from some of Australia’s premier practitioners and open the door for Festivillian involvement…. Late afternoon forums nurture, with health, politics, beauty, revolution and adventure all playing their part. The Blue Lotus is a venue for adventures of the heart, mind and soul.

One of these “premier practitioners” is of course no such thing. How Buddha would react to see intelligence, wisdom and knowledge replaced with the cunning, recklessness and ignorance of the antivaccination lobbyist I can only guess. Last time Meryl Dorey met “lotus” on this blog was in exposing her lie that “measles in ancient Sanskrit means gift of the goddess”. It is actually a curse of the goddess Sitala Mataji, and the mother of the first child “burned” in revenge by the goddess fell into the holy lotus position to beg forgiveness.

I can guess what a great deal of Meryl’s misleading and potentially fatal scam will consist of. There will be the claim that the pertussis vaccine is not working because with 95% vaccination coverage, we happen to have the highest notification levels ever since records began, in 1991. As I noted yesterday however, Dorey will not tell these sitting ducks that of the 18 age groups making up notifications only 2 correspond to the 95% vaccination rate. The vaccination of small children is entirely unrelated to raw notification figures that contain no data on vaccine status or immunity.

16 age groups fall outside that at which immunity begins to wane. In these 16 age groups vaccination coverage is only 11.3%. When we add on numbers of infants too young to have completed pertussis vaccination, it’s clear Dorey’s figures are made up of the unvaccinated and non immune. She won’t tell these young people, young parents that yes, vaccinated people do contract pertussis – but a much milder form. That fatalities are only in the unvaccinated. Those not vaccinated who do not die yet fall gravely ill will be disabled for life if cerebral hypoxia ensues.

The Ancient Egyptians would be appalled at the abuse of their Blue Lotus

Dorey is touted by the promoters thusly:

Investigate before you vaccinate is the motto of the AVN. Having collected reports of thousands of Australian families whose children have been killed or injured by these shots, Meryl knows that the benefit of vaccines don’t always outweigh the risks. Her information is sourced from medical data and is necessary for anyone who is thinking about being vaccinated.

This alone is a collection of lies. Meryl has no reports of children “killed by vaccines”. For the organisers to simply repeat this atrocious lie of “thousands of Australian families” is a public irresponsibility of thunderous immorality. Whist it may seem idiotic at first glance, innocent Aussies will buy into these lies. The benefits of vaccination dwarf the infinitesimal risks. Her fear mongering is not sourced from medical data but cobbled together from conspiracy sites and unrelated data sets such as above.

measles mumps risk benefit chart from the encephalitis societyBasic MMR vs measles risk comparison presented by the Encephalitis Society New England

Dorey is unable to produce these so-called cases of injuries. She will maintain SIDS is due to the hepatitis B vaccine. That Shaken Baby Syndrome – what she calls Shaken Maybe Syndrome – is due to vaccines. She will perhaps misrepresent recent changes in SBS research as proving her point, as some of her members have done. Research is indicating babies may present without problems for many hours following injury. Thus, suspicion cannot always be levelled at the last person to be minding the baby before collapse. This also allows consideration of unseen or seen falls. In the USA convictions have been overturned and innocent people released from prison in light of this. But no, headlines claiming, New thinking in SBS cases, does not implicate vaccines.

For years the insinuation of knowing and having, “vaccine injured” children has sustained Dorey. Yet never have they been produced. No proof exists. Although seemingly delighted at Saba Button’s misfortune I doubt the bragging runs both ways. But at last Dorey has a token victim to abuse in pursuit of more converts. Yet will her audience be told that children die every year from influenza? Or that the risk from severe brain damage is up to 1,000 times greater for measles sufferers than in children with mitochondrial enzyme deficiency, who react to MMR? That MMR produces no fatalities.

Where are Dorey’s citations of vaccine deaths? Simple. Post hoc ergo propter hoc: After this therefore because of this. Confusing correlation with causation. In Dorey’s case (as evidenced by SIDS or claims) the time frame can be years or several years. Yet as many as 1 in 2,500 can die from measles. Deafness from mumps, blindness from rubella. Dorey will raise the isolated cases of mumps infection in unvaccinated religious communities and how such concentrations can overwhelm vaccinated subjects. She will claim this is proof vaccines do not work. She will ignore that “the outbreak is due to infection in an unvaccinated community”.

She’ll insist the autism rate is 1 in 38 using one Korean study. That vaccines are to blame. Yet the Australian rate was recently cited by Swinburne researchers as 1 in 160, as documented by MacDermott et al.2007, The prevalence of autism in Australia. Can it be established from existing data? whilst Baird (USA) and Brugha (UK) suggest 1 in 100 – that’s 1%. Other later reports in 2009, suggest it’s 1 in 100 in Australia. Famously the autism rate for adults using today’s criteria is also 1%. Using the DMS on novel adult groups we find 1 in 100 have autism and don’t know it. That’s also 1%. No adults found to have autism knew they had it, the study reports.

So in 30 years there may have been no change in autism frequency. The primary variable is diagnostic criteria. This in no way dismisses the seriousness of autism, or suggests runaway diagnosis. If anything it reflects sadly on the fact so many in-need children have been previously missed. Yet what it does do is debunk the claim that over the last 30 years autism has become an epidemic and thus, vaccines are to blame.

There’ll will be no end to Dorey’s misinformation. Homeoprophylaxis will be suggested. Natural immunity is the only real immunity. Perhaps a pox party for chicken pox immunity. The immunity equivalent off throwing your child of a bridge to learn to swim. The new P.G.S. – Post Gardasil Syndrome – strangely absent from medical literature. Clean water, fresh food and sanitation wiped out disease, not vaccines, she’ll insist. Which fails utterly to appreciate the Hib vaccine – which she’ll omit.
The success of the Hib vaccine 1993 – 2005 immediately dismisses the claim “better living conditions alone” wiped out some epidemics

Running hot with the pertussis deception will be her new trick, as she opined on the ABC, that the danger in vaccines is made worse by the fact Nicola Roxon and the media did not lead with stories on explaining Conscientious Objection, over the recent immunisation incentive. As if the first piece of advice we need is how to avoid vaccination. Tragically, Dorey will give very detailed instructions on how to avoid vaccination as a C.O. and still receive government payments.

So what do people need to know?

On July 26th, 2010 the HCCC published a public health warning following the AVN’s failure to post warnings that it was anti-vaccination. Prior to this the HCCC had investigated two complaints that the AVN provided false and misleading information. The HCCC concluded it’s investigation on July 12th and gave the AVN 14 days to publish the following on it’s website:

  • The Australian Vaccination Network’s purpose is to provide information against vaccination in order to balance what it believes is the substantial amount of pro-vaccination information available elsewhere;
  • The information provided should not be read as medical advice; and
  • The decision about whether or not to vaccinate should be made in consultation with a health care provider.

As you can see this is markedly more tame than the public health warning, that followed in the wake of her refusal. Which also added that the Australian Vaccination Network;

  • provides information that is solely anti-vaccination
  • contains information that is incorrect and misleading
  • quotes selectively from research to suggest that vaccination may be dangerous


… the AVN provides information that is inaccurate and misleading. The AVN’s failure to include a notice on its website of the nature recommended by the Commission may result in members of the public making improperly informed decisions about whether or not to vaccinate, and therefore poses a risk to public health and safety.

Dorey will plead conspiracies to suppress her right to free speech. But she is the author of her own dilemma. So to spell out the obvious, most of what Meryl Dorey is railing against is by her own hand. Do not be fooled by Meryl Dorey. She is adept at conning audiences and continually seeks her own gain. Do not be fooled by this woman.


  • Ms. Dorey is a discredited anti-vaccination lobbyist deemed a threat to public health and as such can not be trusted to give reasonable or factual information.
  • Ms. Dorey has no qualifications in health, medicine, nursing, midwifery, public health or any discipline that would legitimise her argument.
  • Ms. Dorey misrepresents the import of overall infection by omitting proper context.
  • Ms. Dorey misrepresents the import of pertussis vaccination by omitting crucial information.
  • The information above is factual yet Ms. Dorey will not present it.
  • Ms. Dorey does not cite any reliable scientific information and presents arguments that are not supported by any public health authorities or published literature.
  • Ms Dorey’s aim is to discourage vaccination, to misinform – not promote informed choice.

Whether or not you become one of her victims, or the victims of irresponsible and selfish organisers is really up to you.

ABC Tonic – Whooping cough Advice