AVSN president Tasha David misleads ‘We Are Vaxxed’ audience

Current president of the Australian Vaccination Skeptics Network, Tasha David, visited Atlanta Georgia in the USA to attend the so-called “CDC Truth rally”.

This caper was a big deal for antivaccinationists obsessed with the dishonest, deceptive film Vaxxed. In forming a view about the push to promote Vaxxed and the individuals involved it is important to understand how utterly false and potentially harmful it is. Like most outspoken antivaccinationists Tasha David keeps reminding us of her own dishonesty.

Whilst in the US, on the weekend of October 15-16, David joined the parade of vaccine victims appearing as video subjects for We Are Vaxxed. Although dishonest throughout her stint it is the first lies she offers that are so patently absurd. Initially David offers:

The government made us change our own name because we’re not allowed to choose our own name in Australia, so that’s basically one of the reasons why we’re here because in Australia we don’t have a Bill of rights we don’t have guaranteed freedom of speech, so we’re not allowed to speak on a lot of things.

Freedom of speech? Bill of Rights? Not allowed to choose our own name in Australia? Oh my. The government had “made us change our own name”? Balderdash and Blubberblurt. The Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network are obsessed with manipulating discourse and social media to keep their prior name – the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) – alive.

The AVN was formed in 1994. Twenty years later Tasha David became president. Clearly the AVN had a long run with the name they had chosen. It was however a confusing name and always intended to deceive. Regrettably the official sounding name was successful in fooling members of the public, and a legitimate midwifery organisation listed the AVN as reputable. The NSW Department of Fair Trading received complaints to this effect.

In December 2012 they ordered the AVN to change its name within two months or be deregistered. Minister for Fair Trading at the time, Anthony Roberts, said the group’s name “is confusing and has misled the public as to its operational intention”. The order was a huge blow to the twisted morale of the group which thrived on whenever possible snubbing regulators and mocking the vital purpose of regulation. They unsuccessfully challenged the order and by March 2014 changed their name to the Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network.

By the time of the name change the Fair Trading Minister was Stuart Ayers. The ABC reported:

Fair Trading Minister Stuart Ayres says the association’s original name was misleading.

“The title wasn’t reflecting their strong anti-vaccination stance and so we after receiving numerous complaints requested them to change their name,” he said.

“They’ve now complied with that request and the new title reflects their anti-vaccination stance.”

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) says it hopes the name change makes sure the organisation is not mistaken for a government agency.

It would appear that David’s intellectually contorted statement suggesting government strong arm tactics and suppression of free speech is a calculated lie crafted to gain sympathy. In reality it is the health of Australian democracy and Fair Trading legislation that led to the order to change their deceptive name.

  • Listen to the first 2 min of David’s interview. NB: I edited out the confusion around live video streaming but have not altered the commentary in any way.

Tasha David continues:

I see that you guys are up in arms about that new CDC um, rule we’ve been talking about – forced vaccinating um, children, or people basically in the US. But I’m really sad to say that they’ve already passed that law in Australia. It’s called the Biosecurity Act 2015 so basically, um, they can force vaccinate you if you have a disease or um, some kind of illness that is a risk to human health.

Now that could be anything. Could be a cold you know, so we’ve already got the legislation in place. I haven’t seen it be used yet but the fact that it’s even in place is scary to me, you know, so…

Here, David is contending that forced vaccination is a reality in Australia if circumstances meet conditions outlined in the Biosecurity Act 2015. She further contends that the Act permits forced vaccination of an individual suffering “some kind of illness that is a risk to human health… that could be anything… could be a cold”. Putting aside David’s alarming lack of understanding the role of vaccination we should look closer at the Biosecurity Act 2015.

The Act is headed, An Act relating to diseases and pests that may cause harm to human, animal or plant health or the environment, and for related purposes.

The HTML version I’ve linked to has 681 pages, including endnotes. The word “vaccination” appears eleven times, the majority of these being in subsections or related sections. That is to say this vast document does not present a number of novel reasons for vaccination. Rather parts of the Act describe when vaccination is relevant to interpretation and application of the Act.

David is in error when claiming the Biosecurity Act 2015 deals with “anything” or “a cold”. The diseases this Act is designed to manage are in fact far removed from such a dismissive notion. Chapter 2 – Managing biosecurity risks: human health includes Listing Human Diseases:

(1)  The Director of Human Biosecurity may, in writing, determine that a human disease is a listed human disease if the Director considers that the disease may:
(a)  be communicable; and
(b)  cause significant harm to human health.
(2)  Before making a determination under this section, the Director of Human Biosecurity must consult with:
(a)  the chief health officer (however described) for each State and Territory; and
(b)  the Director of Biosecurity.
(3)  A determination made under this section is a legislative instrument, but section 42 (disallowance) of the Legislative Instruments Act 2003 does not apply to the instrument.

With regard to Human Biosecurity Control Orders it should be noted that these are not applied frivolously and when an individual objects to the application of such measures the Director of Human Biosecurity “must take into account any factors that may affect the health of the individual”. Thus an established risk to an individual of an adverse reaction from vaccination would prevent administration of a vaccine.

With respect to imposing biosecurity measures the Act includes, in Chapter 2:

[Protections] aim to ensure that a power is exercised, or biosecurity measure imposed, only when circumstances are sufficiently serious to justify it, and only if it would be effective, it is appropriate and adapted for its purpose, and it is no more restrictive or intrusive than is required. [Protection] also ensures that the requirements of this Chapter do not interfere with an individual’s urgent or life‑threatening medical needs.

It’s important to realise with respect to disease a great deal of this Act and the application of biosecurity measures involve individuals entering Australian territory and the operation of aircraft or vessels entering or leaving Australia. Managing risks to human health include human biosecurity control orders. Section 59 of the Act includes:

A human biosecurity control order that is in force in relation to an individual may require the individual to comply with certain biosecurity measures. [Those measures] include vaccination, restricting the individual’s behaviour and ordering the individual to remain isolated.

In Division 2 of the Act it states under Entry Requirements (bold mine):

The Health Minister may determine one or more requirements for individuals who are entering Australian territory at a landing place or port.

for an individual to provide either:
(i)  a declaration as to whether the individual has received a specified vaccination or other prophylaxis within a specified previous period; or
(ii)  evidence that the individual has received a specified vaccination or other prophylaxis within a specified previous period

With respect to vaccination identical requirements exist under Exit Requirements.

Unvaccinated Australians are freely travelling to and from the country without being vaccinated against potential disease. Despite the Biosecurity Act travellers have brought measles to Australia, resulting in a sixteen year diagnostic high in 2014. Tasha David may claim that under this Act a simple cold could lead to forced vaccination, but there was no evidence of Human Biosecurity Control Orders in the wake of a recent measles outbreak in Melbourne. David would benefit from understanding just why she hasn’t seen this Act used to force vaccination for trivial reasons.

Section 74 of the Act notes when an individual is expected to comply with a biosecurity measure. Subsection (2) reads:

The individual is required to comply with the measure only if:
(a)  the individual consents to the measure; or
(b)  the Director of Human Biosecurity has given a direction for the individual to comply with the measure…

Section 92: Receiving a vaccination or treatment:

An individual may be required by a human biosecurity control order to receive, at a specified medical facility:
(a)  a specified vaccination; or
(b)  a specified form of treatment;
in order to manage the listed human disease specified in the order, and any other listed human disease.

With respect to the use of force one notes Section 95: No use of force to require compliance with certain biosecurity measures:

Force must not be used against an individual to require the individual to comply with a biosecurity measure imposed under any of sections 85 to 93.

Note: Force may be used in preventing an individual leaving Australian territory in contravention of a traveller movement measure (see section 101) or in detaining a person who fails to comply with an isolation measure (see section 104).

Thus contrary to Tasha David’s claim that, “they can force vaccinate you” under implementation of the Biosecurity Act 2015, we can see in this case that the Act itself prevents forced vaccination. It’s clear that no force can be used for the imposition of biosecurity measures under Sections 85 to 93. Vaccination, being Section 92, falls within this range.

No doubt antivaccinationists will disagree with any legislation that involves vaccination to protect the public from serious disease. What is important however is to underscore how this group will continually mislead the public without compunction. The Biosecurity Act 2015 is not used for just “anything” or simple “colds”. Nor does it permit forced vaccination.

David continues with considerable more nonsense. Offensive, crude dishonesty. Her next target is No Jab No Pay but it is the impact she claims to have observed that is quite sickening.

So these people that are single parents that don’t have that money to pay, you know that need that money just to survive… they can’t work, they can’t afford child care. So they’re basically on the street. We have so many stories on our web site of people living in cars, that are having abortions because they can’t afford to have a child in Australia now because of these laws.

Typically there is no evidence for these claims. If they were true the right thing for Tasha David to do would be to advise these individuals to have their children vaccinated and thus be eligible for the payments in question. Or perhaps the AVSN could help with some of that donated cash instead of spending it on trips to the USA.

Either way I doubt the AVSN will change their deceptive habits.

Andrew Denton on Assisted Dying

Earlier this month Andrew Denton presented what might be called his findings on the need for assisted dying, or voluntary euthanasia in Australia. Without this legislation one Victorian per week suicides to escape pain. Just one state. These mainly “elderly violent suicides” are composed in the book Denton released on August 10th titled The Damage Done.

Denton has travelled to Belgian, The Netherlands and Oregon where assisted dying legislation exists in law. Whilst there are differences and similarities in these laws it was what such legislation is not that is most striking to the Australian situation at present. There is no sign that the many horrors organised opponents insist will accompany such legislation exist.

No slippery slope. No sanctioned killing of the disabled, the elderly, the sick or the frail. No sign of greedy family members metaphorically marching a family member to an early unwanted demise. The legislation itself presents this from happening by ensuring the decision is that of the individual in question.

An individual must be of sound mind, enduring intolerable suffering, aware of the consequences of their decision and checked and double checked by separate, independent physicians. There are many reasons why the fear conjured by self-appointed moral guardians is simply fallacious. Not least, in their own words, organised planning to distort facts and feed the public and legislators unrealistic images as to what assisted dying would mean.

Denton presents the primary four “myths” that sustain opposition to the much needed and compassionate legislation that would see assisted dying a right in Australia. These are demolished with more than enough hard evidence gleaned from where assisted dying is legal. Furthermore these points and many more are embellished. Australians it seems, are fed deception. With over 80% in favour and under 10% in opposition to assisted dying the orchestrated abuse of power denying public will is thunderously immoral.

It’s important Australians understand that we were once world leaders in such legislation. Assisted dying existed in N.T. under the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act 1995. The Liberal Party’s Kevin Andrews (“a leading member of the conservative Lyons Forum, dubbed by some ‘The God Squad'”) and Labor’s Tony Burke, assisted by powerful fellow Catholic busnessmen undermined the will of the N.T. public, ultimately having the law repealed. Their harmful work continues today. 28 attempts have been made in the last 20 years to pass assisted dying legislation.

Denton argues the two politicians have “engineered” a denial of evidence. He covers this dynamic, the reality of assisted dying legislation and the importance of palliative care. A significant number of patients who meet eligibility requirements and whose cases satisfy safeguards for assisted dying ultimately do not take life-ending medication. In Oregon this figure is 40%. What this tells us is that the peace of mind that comes with knowing one has control over their end is powerful indeed.

What we often call euthanasia is not “killing”. It is assisted dying. It is dying with dignity. I do urge finding the time to listen to Denton’s material.

 – Andrew Denton: The Damage Done. The price our community pays without a law for assisted dying

© National Press Club of Australia, 10 August 2016

© ABC Lateline, 10 August 2016


Andrew Denton investigates the stories, moral arguments and individuals woven into discussions about why good people are dying bad deaths in Australia – because there is no law to help them.

‘No Jab No Pay’ Success: Government will not profit financially

It has been widely reported today that the Turnbull Government’s “No Jab, No Pay” legislation has led to an increase in childhood vaccination rates.

This is excellent news and a Parliamentary Budget Review indicates conscientious objectors are not being roundly exploited to fill government coffers. Unless of course, they choose to be.

The success of the policy means a great number of Australians who previously registered as conscientious objectors, no longer do so. Therefore they are not being denied Child Care Benefit (CCB), Child Care Rebate (CCR) or Family Tax Benefit (Part A). It follows then that the government is not guaranteed financial profit from this policy.

The policy was implemented on January 1st this year. 5,738 children whose parents had previously denied them the protection of immunisation have been vaccinated since then. Social Services Minister, Christian Porter stated that 148,000 children who were not up to date with immunisations were now meeting requirements.

The Australian Childhood Immunisation Register indicates increases in immunisation for one, two and five year olds. For one and five year olds there has been an increase from 90% to 93%. The ABC reported:

Vaccination rates had fallen to such a historically low level, that we were seeing the re-emergence of diseases that we had been free of for years,” Mr Porter said.

“Of course, that was a matter of major concern to the overwhelming majority of parents who aren’t vaccination objectors and just want their kids to be safe.

In the Parliamentary Budget Review 2015-16 Michael Klapdor and Alex Grove published ‘No Jan No Pay’ and other immunisation measures. They note that No Jab No Pay involves closing off:

… some exemptions from the immunisation requirements for eligibility for the FTB-A [Family Tax Benefit, Part A] end-of-year supplement, Child Care Benefit (CCB) and Child Care Rebate (CCR) payments stating that it was extremely concerned at the risk non-vaccinated children pose to public health. […]

On 12 April 2015, the Government announced that it would remove the conscientious objector exemption but retain the medical and Christian Scientist exemption. On 19 April 2015, Minister for Social Services, Scott Morrison, announced that after discussions with the Church of Christ, Scientist, their specific exemption would be removed as the Church advised it was no longer necessary.

Also reported today is that families may lose up to $15,000 per year if parents fail to have their children vaccinated. As readers may well be aware, and as is evident in the above paragraphs from the Budget Review, “failing to have their children vaccinated” would be an insistence to deny one’s children vaccine induced immunity, by remaining “conscientious objectors”.

There is no sound reason to make this choice. There never has been, and it is most regrettable that the anti-vaccine lobby has worked feverishly to further distress those who hold misguided anti-vaccine beliefs. One theme has been that the right to make “health choices” has been removed. Or, promises of court action to challenge the legislation on the back of donations scammed by The Australian Vaccination-sceptics Network. Another, that the government would profit financially from discriminating against conscientious objectors.

However a close read of Klapdor and Grove’s Budget Review shows this claim loses credibility as more children of conscientious objectors are vaccinated. Conscientious objectors make up “a minority of the total number of children not up-to-date with their vaccination schedules”. Only 20% of one, two and five year olds not up to date with vaccinations [citation]. The authors cover in depth a number of “other immunisation measures” aimed at raising and maintaining immunisation levels, and finish their review with:

Through these efforts to improve coverage rates, coupled with financial penalties for non-compliance with immunisation schedules, the Government believes that it is taking a ‘balanced “carrot and stick” approach’ to encouraging vaccination. Of course, the sizeable savings expected from the ‘stick’ element may not be realised if these policies succeed in significantly lifting childhood immunisation rates.

The question then, is what percentage of conscientious objectors does the 5,738 children vaccinated since January 1st represent? Using Klapdor and Grove’s reference we may take the figure on page iv. 14,869 children aged one, two or five years were recorded as conscientious objectors in 2012-13. Klapdor and Grove state that whilst there has been an increase in immunisation rates since 1998 overall rates have remained static in recent years [citation].

Thus with some degree of reasonable confidence we may view the 5,738 children of conscientious objectors reported by Social Services Minister Christian Porter, as a percentage of 14,869. This figure of 38.6%, in light of the historical data cited in the Budget Review, might reasonably be viewed as “significantly lifting childhood immunisation rates”, to quote from Klapdor and Grove. And as these authors reasoned a lift in immunisation rates would mean that, “the sizeable savings expected from the ‘stick’ element may not be realised”.

Thus the antivaccinationist claim that they would be exploited to fill government coffers is at this stage seemingly without merit. More to the point if antivaccinationists wish to retain their status as conscientious objectors they are making a conscious choice for financial hardship.

Immunise Australia have provided the below summary and catch up recommendations for children 10 – 19 years.

No Jab No Pay New Immunisation Requirements For Family Assistance Payments

From 1 January 2016:

  • Only parents of children (less than 20 years of age) who are fully immunised or are on a recognised catch-up schedule can receive the Child Care Benefit, the Child Care Rebate and the Family Tax Benefit Part A end of year supplement. The relevant vaccinations are those under the National Immunisation Program (NIP), which covers the vaccines usually administered before age ve. These vaccinations must be recorded on the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register (ACIR).
  • Children with medical contraindications or natural immunity for certain diseases will continue to be exempt from the requirements.
  • Conscientious objection and vaccination objection on non-medical grounds will no longer be a valid exemption from immunisation requirements.
  • Families eligible to receive family assistance payments and have children less than 20 years of age, who may not meet the new immunisation requirements, will be notified by Centrelink.
  • To support these changes, the ACIR is being expanded. From 1 January 2016, you will be able to submit the details of vaccinations given to persons less than 20 years of age to the ACIR.1. Free catch-up for children less than 10 years of ageFrom 1 January 2016, all states and territories will be providing free catch-up NIP vaccines for all children less than 10 years of age on an on-going basis.2. Free catch-up for young persons 10 to 19 years of age, of families who currently receive family assistance payments

    From 1 January 2016, parents who wish to immunise their children in order to continue to receive family assistance payments will have access to free catch- up vaccines for a time-limited period (1 January 2016 to 31 December 2017).

Vaccines and autism: A thorough review of the evidence

The following post is an exceptionally detailed review of the evidence, and scientific consensus, specific to the persistent claim of a link between vaccination and autism.

Those familiar with the integrity of the scientific method and its value in examining this particular issue will be grateful for both the quality and extent of this review.

Use of the seven tiered Hierarchy of Scientific Evidence provides an excellent device by which to gauge the value of evidence, and as such, introduces one to a reliable tool for similar endeavours.

I trust you find the article a valuable resource.

Hierarchy of Scientific Evidence

© thelogicofscience.com

The Logic of Science

One of the most common concerns that people have about vaccines is that they might cause (or exacerbate) autism. This idea is perpetuated by celebrities and innumerable websites, and it has become one of the cornerstone arguments of the anti-vaccine movement, but is there any truth to it? Perhaps unsurprisingly, both sides claim a superiority of evidence. Indeed, you can find numerous websites presenting lists of papers that they claim provide evidence that autism is caused by vaccines (such as “124 research papers supporting the vaccine/autism link“). Conversely, those who support vaccines also have lists of papers which they present as evidence that vaccines do not cause autism (for example, here and here). So which is correct? The internet is full of misinformation on this topic, so I want to cut through that crap and talk about the actual studies themselves rather than simply tossing lists around…

View original post 17,466 more words

Audio: Examining the anti-vax movement

Preamble…

Recently with the decision by Robert De Niro to pull the dangerous and fraudulent film “Vaxxed…”, from the Tribeca film festival, antivaccinationists have been amusingly “outraged”.

The film appears to be a collation of misleading to bogus claims, deceptively produced to appear as a “documentary”, with the aim of selling the ludicrous claim by one Brian Hooker that CDC scientist William Thompson had blown the whistle on CDC fraud. The fraud purportedly being an increase in autism in African-American boys receiving MMR “on time”. This nonsense brings us to the final card that the film’s director, Andrew Wakefield, is not only innocent of the fraud that saw him deregistered but an ethical hero “working to make vaccines safer”.

The hilarity of deceit at play here requires length and focus. The facts are examined here, here and here. This blog’s Wakefield tag is here. What has been predictable is the conduct of the anti-vaccine lobby. The film’s producer Del Bigtree reached new heights of conspiracy laden fallacy in an interview on USA’s ABC. It was “censored” (it wasn’t) because Big Pharma didn’t want “you” to see it. To accept that, one must accept the whole global Pharma-vaccine conspiracy.

Supporters believe this rot without seemingly questioning a jot. But why? How do they reach a state of intellectual helplessness and gullibility? Why are they incapable of discerning reputable information? As it turns out there are many sources discussing conspiracy theory mindsets, cognitive bias, distrust of authority and more. But for now I’ll avoid such in favour of the audio narratives below. I’m sure I’m not alone in musing about the conduct of antivaccinationists, particularly the similarities in spreading deception and abusing those who hold them to account for such dishonesty.

Here in Australia last January saw the acceptance of a PhD thesis from antivaccinationist and conspiracy theorist Judy Wilyman, by the University of Wollongong. This has rightly attracted wide criticism with respect to academic rigour as the work advances a conspiracy theory by advancing incredulous and debunked claims, citing criticised authors and works.

What is of note here is the contribution of her supervisor Brian Martin who has written that Wilyman has been unfairly attacked by critics. This is not an accurate portrayal of the intellectual and academic challenges Wilyman was met with by any means. Martin goes on to accuse Stop the Australian (anti) Vaccination Network (SAVN) of making complaints to “official bodies” and of seeking to prevent anti-vaccine talks.

This is quite true but I note that SAVN has never been so much as cautioned for vexatious conduct. Complaints are made with good reason and can only take shape thanks to the irregular conduct, or worse, of those complained about. Preventing the abuses of free speech that opponents of evidence based medicine and antivaccinationists engage in is essential to the defence of sound public health.

So what would drive an educated individual to work to enable the scurrilous conduct of his student, rather than encourage critical thought and intellectual honesty? This got me thinking of a worthy production.

Audio…

In August 2015 the BBC broadcast an inquiry, What’s behind the ‘anti-vax’ movement? [© BBC] It could dig a little deeper if we consider the abuse of grieving parents and vile threats that pepper social media. However I think the building blocks of such anti-vax conduct is presented.

  • Listen with the player below…

The four part programme features Dr. Dyan Hes, Brian Deer, Juniper Russo and Heidi Larson. The producers take the view that the so called debate surrounding vaccination has not only been settled, but in view of Andrew Wakefield’s fraud, is a misleading claim. Thus the programme is introduced with the promise that false balance will not be entertained.

Be sure to catch Juniper Russo (Part 3 – The Crunchy Mom) at the 11:15 mark. Juniper was the ideal nature loving mom from Tennessee, convinced Big Pharma had conspired to silence Wakefield. She was wired into the online anti-vax movement and chose to keep vaccines, and other awful medicines, away from her daughter. Juniper’s vaccine beliefs changed when her daughter was diagnosed with autism.

Juniper now takes an evidence based approach to lifestyle and is the author of the blog, Back From Nature.

Enjoy.