Australian Vaccination-and-legal-skeptics Network as inept as ever

Today, the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network sent out a newsletter updating their perpetually confused, paying membership of the AVN’s progress with a planned legal challenge to the No Jab No Pay legislation, which came into effect on January 1 2016. No one knows who the office-bearers of the AVN are, at this time; we can only guess that Tasha David is still the president. Although, the email I received this morning had Meryl Dorey’s post office box address at the bottom, once again. It had not been there for many months:

AVSN 25 Bangalow PO Box again Feb 6 2016

I have always been of the opinion that Dorey is still in charge – and always has been – of the anti-vaccination organisation which has a public health warning against its name. Dorey’s name was, and still is, public poison. I could never imagine a narcissist like Dorey relinquishing control of her organisation, no matter how much her poor reputation affected the whole anti-vaccination movement.

In today’s newsletter, the AVN claims to  have retained the services of a barrister who will be writing a legal opinion for them:

Just keeping you all in the loop, we have some excellent news on the legal front. The AVN has retained the services of a barrister to write a detailed opinion regarding the ways in which No Jab No Pay / No Play can be opposed through the court system.

AVSN 24 legal opinions barrister newsletter

Of course this action requires the obligatory AVN pan-handling for more of the public’s money; yet, more concerning is this call out for anti-vaccinationists to co-opt the services of teachers and health practitioners to spread the good word crying for donations to an anti-vaccination cause, including in school newsletters:

Another way you can help, that won’t cost a cent or very much time, is by forwarding this email to every single person on your contact lists and also your social media contacts. If you are a practitioner, send this to your patients and / or put it up on your office bulletin board. Teachers, give this out to parents and post it in school newsletters.

One thing which is interesting about the AVN’s  claim to have found a “barrister” – and they may well have a pro bono barrister working for them again, given how successful a career leap this is – is a post which appeared on the AVN’s official Facebook page, on February 3-4 2016.  In a reply to the AVN’s  post of yet another petition – more about that in a second – we see an organisation called Solutions Forum offer the AVN some advice:

We are presenting this event to assist people from a legal persepctive to say NO to vaccines.

AVSN 21 SF Feb 4 2016

So, who is Solutions Forum? Well, it is a website set up by Sovereign Citizen and Freeman on the Land types so as to circumvent what they perceive to be unfair laws. Here are two posts from their Facebook page:

SF 1 admiralty law

And, even worse:

SF 2 Makow feminism NWO

From what I can gather – having watched the goings-on of the initial stages of this chicanery, in closed groups – the legal opinion from this group is not qualified legal opinion; the opinion is from people who think they know about the law. This is a perfect example of how the Dunning-Kruger Effect can have real-life, detrimental consequences for the gullible and their families.

The person who is setting up the Say NO to vaccinations event is Sarah O’Reilly – an unqualified health practitioner and anti-vaccination conspiracy theorist – whom we have met a few times, most notably because she attacked bereaved parents on their deceased baby son’s memorial page. O’Reilly has been planning this event, along with the Freeman on the Land people, for months. This is from the Unvaccinated Australia anti-vaccination  Facebook group:

O'Reilly 5 Feb 5 workshop eventbrite

And if that isn’t bad enough, when we go back to the petition shared by the AVN, on February 4 2016 – and remember that this petition is promoted as a part of their challenge to Commonwealth legislation which is already enacted into law – we see that the petition is based on a deliberate misunderstanding of the constitution which has been eaten and digested so many times it gives us heartburn. It is a lie for them to repeat this, over and over. I mean, they even include the sentences, with all appropriate punctuation still intact:

(xxiiiA) the provision of maternity allowances, widows’ pensions, child endowment, unemployment, pharmaceutical, sickness and hospital benefits, medical and dental services (but not so as to authorize any form of civil conscription), benefits to students and family allowances;

AVSN 22 petition constitution 23A

This is not hard to understand. I’ll simply include a section from my earlier post, with the pertinent phrase in bold. This section has nothing to do with the conscription of mandatory immunisation practices on the public, and everything to do with protecting doctors and dentists from being conscripted into providing their services to the public:

Section 51 (xxiiiA) refers to the authorisation of civil conscription of doctors and dentists as being unlawful:

(xxiiiA) the provision of maternity allowances, widows’ pensions, child endowment, unemployment, pharmaceutical, sickness and hospital benefits, medical and dental services (but not so as to authorize any form of civil conscription), benefits to students and family allowances;

There are commas in that excerpt for a reason: they mean something. Commas are our friends.

Elsewhere in today’s newsletter, the AVN tells of further exciting developments which add weight to their considered legal opinion. One legal avenue upon which the AVN is basing its actions is…oh boy:

according to several parents posting on Facebook

The legal challenge is provided with even more impetus by what the AVN describes as a “back-flip” by the Australian Medical Association, overturning the AMA’s previous medico-legal opinion about the worthlessness of antivax statutory declarations which are being promoted by Tasha David and the AVN:

Initially, both the AMA (Anti-Vax Dodge A Dubious Ploy) and Centrelink claimed that the forms linked to on that blog (forms which were written by a lawyer) would not be considered in any legal capacity.

Since that time, however, both organisations have done a back-flip after seeking legal advice themselves. You can read the AMA’s updated position statement at this link – Update on Anti-Vaccination Ploy To Avoid No Jab No Pay Laws [edit: original AVN link broken fixed by RH]. And according to several parents posting on Facebook, Centrelink is informing them that if they cannot find a doctor to vaccinate their children against their wishes, they would need to file an appeal against any decision to stop their payments and though it will be a long process, it is possible that a finding will be made in their favour!

AVSN 23 newsletter legal challenge AMA

A back-flip! This would mean a complete reversal of the AMA’s previous medico-legal opinion. This is groundbreaking news. This is the sort of  news one should use to garner further donations so as to accrue more funds for barristers, and a perfect time to pump for more memberships, leading to a resurrection, a return of the prophet! It looks like everything’s comin’ up Meryl, again, for the AVN.

So, when we use the correct link for the AMA article, what do we read? Here is the full text, just so we’re sure we’re reading the same thing upon which the AVN is basing its claims and calls for more money and more members:

02 Feb 2016

The Federal Government has confirmed that a form being circulated by anti-vaccination campaigners attempting to circumvent new ‘No Jab, No Pay’ laws has no legal standing, backing AMA advice that doctors are under no obligation to sign it.

Social Services Minister Christian Porter has written to AMA President Brian Owler confirming that medical practitioners were under no obligation to sign the form, which asks doctors to acknowledge the ‘involuntary consent’ of a parent to the vaccination of their children, and which is deemed to be ineffective in any case.

“I am able to advise you that under the No Jab, No Pay Act, immunisation providers are not obligated to sign such declarations,” Mr Porter wrote. “This statutory declaration is not relevant evidence for the purposes of family assistance payments, [so that] even if such a form were signed by a doctor…it would not in any circumstances make the relevant parent eligible for payments that would otherwise be suspended.”

The form has been circulated by anti-vaccination campaigners following Federal Government welfare changes aimed at denying certain welfare payments to parents who refuse to vaccinate their child.

Under the No Jab, No Pay laws, from 1 January this year parents of children whose vaccination is not up-to-date are no longer eligible for the Family Tax Benefit Part A end-of-year supplement, or for Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate payments. The only exemption will be for children who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.

The new laws were introduced amid mounting concern that vaccination rates in some areas were slipping to dangerously low levels, increasing the risk of a sustained outbreak of potentially deadly diseases such as measles.

The Australian Childhood Immunisation Register shows there has been a sharp increase in the proportion of parents registering a conscientious objection to the vaccination of their child, from just 0.23 per cent in late 1999 to 1.77 per cent by the end of 2014.

In all, around a fifth of all young children who are not fully immunised are that way because of the conscientious objection of their parents.

The form being circulated by anti-vaccination groups, headed “Acknowledgement of involuntary consent to vaccination”, is intended to circumvent the No Jab, No Pay laws and allow conscientious objectors to receive Government benefits without allowing the vaccination of their children.

But Mr Porter said the aim of the new laws was to boost immunisation rates “by providing a level of encouragement and incentive for families to more thoroughly inform themselves about the importance of immunising their children”.

The Minster said the Government recognised the right of parents to decide not to vaccinate their children, but the new laws meant there would be consequences.

“An individual is not prohibited in any way from maintaining their vaccination objection; it is simply the case they will not receive some of their family assistance,” he said. “This is a relatively small financial cost, particularly when compared to the cost that the spread of crippling, debilitating and deadly diseases has on our health system and community.”

“It is the Government’s view that when an individual decides not to vaccinate their child, they are putting their child and the community at risk of infectious diseases.”

Last month, the AMA’s senior legal adviser John Alati advised that, where there was no medical reason for vaccination exemption, the doctor’s job was to outline the relevant facts about immunisation and to provide vaccination where consent was given. Where it was withheld, “the doctor should not perform the procedure as it might constitute trespass to the person”.

His advice was backed by Mr Porter, who said that “the appropriate path for a doctor or medical profession who may be requested to sign [the form being circulated by anti-vaccination campaigners] is simply to vaccinate where there is consent, and decline where consent is absent”.

Adrian Rollins

Hang on. That says the opposite to what the AVN claims:

The Federal Government has confirmed that a form being circulated by anti-vaccination campaigners attempting to circumvent new ‘No Jab, No Pay’ laws has no legal standing, backing AMA advice that doctors are under no obligation to sign it…

Mr Porter…said that “the appropriate path for a doctor or medical profession who may be requested to sign [the form being circulated by anti-vaccination campaigners] is simply to vaccinate where there is consent, and decline where consent is absent”.

The AVN: same as it ever was.

The AVN might have a real barrister. Who knows. But going by their ineptitude over the last few days I’m starting to question even that.

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About reasonable hank

I'm reasonable, mostly.
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4 Responses to Australian Vaccination-and-legal-skeptics Network as inept as ever

  1. Sue Ieraci says:

    It makes sense that a group that is so inept in interpreting science would he equally inept in interpreting the law. Both are skilled professions that require a large amount of training and good judgement to practice competently.

  2. Pingback: Queensland antivax activist in attempted Centrelink benefits rort | reasonablehank

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