Pauline Hanson is under fire again, as health experts slam her “dangerous”, “ignorant” and “crazy” comments about vaccination.
Hanson used an appearance on ABC’s Insiders on the weekend to criticise the Government’s no-jab, no-pay welfare policy, which requires parents to vaccinate their children before they can collect family payments and childcare benefits.
“What I don’t like about it is the blackmailing that’s happening with the government,” Hanson said.
“Don’t do that to people. That’s a dictatorship.”
Ironically, in the same interview in which she compared the Government’s vaccination policy to a “dictatorship”, Hanson lavished praise among Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
“I respect the man,” she said.
“He is very patriotic towards his country, the people love him, he is doing so well for the country. So many Australians here want that leadership here in Australia.”
As you’d expect, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) has come out strongly against Hanson’s comments regarding vaccination, issuing a statement via Facebook.
“The AMA and doctors everywhere are happy to report that vaccines save lives, control and eradicate disease,” the organisation wrote.
“Always trust a doctor before a politician. Parents who wish to discuss health issues regarding their children, including routine immunisation, are very welcome to ask their GP. Alternatively, The Science of Immunisation: Questions and Answers booklet is held in very high regard by doctors.”
AMA President Dr Michael Gannon tweeted that “vaccination rates [are] far too important to be the stuff of the new grievance politics”, and urged parents to “listen to the science”.
— AMA President (@amapresident) March 6, 2017
Former AMA President Brian Owler didn’t hold back, either, tweeting that Hanson’s advice was uninformed, dangerous and insulting.
— Brian Owler (@BrianOwler) March 4, 2017
Appearing on ABC Radio on Monday, Grattan Institute Health Director Stephen Duckett expressed his “disgust” at Hanson’s comments.
“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. Vaccines are safe. I cannot stress how angry it makes one feel that she is putting lives at risk.
“If parents choose not to vaccinate their children, they are putting their children’s health at risk, and every other person’s children at risk, too. It is a vital health objective that everybody is vaccinated.”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the ‘no-jab, no-pay’ policy had led to an extra 200,000 vaccinations in the past year.
“The health of our children, the health of the nation, depends on vaccination and that has to be as close to 11 per cent as possible. It is a vital health objective to ensure that everybody is vaccinated.”
Opposition leader Bill Shorten has also slammed Hanson, tweeting: “Vaccines save lives. One Nation’s campaign of misinformation is plain dangerous.”
Vaccines save lives. One Nation's campaign of misinformation is plain dangerous.
— Bill Shorten (@billshortenmp) March 5, 2017
Hanson has since defended her comments, and clarified that she isn’t rejecting vaccination outright.
“I’m not saying to people don’t get your children vaccinated,” she told 6PR Radio.
“I’m not a medical professional. I had my children vaccinated, I never told my children not to get their children vaccinated.
“If that’s what the doctor tells them — that they need to have the vaccination done — that’s up to the person. Go and talk to your doctor.”