Qld Health can’t stop vaccination 'sceptics'
QUEENSLAND'S Chief Health Officer says she is powerless to stop the Australian Vaccination-sceptics Network from exhibiting at a Sunshine Coast Expo, even though she would like to.
Dr Jeannette Young issued a strongly worded statement as debate about the Network's right to display at next weekend's Sunshine Coast Healthy Lifestyle Expo raged online.
"It is my belief that platforms for organisations such as the Network that enable them to disseminate unfounded and debunked anti-vaccination material should be limited," Dr Young said.
"We need to minimise their misinformation contaminating a person's ability to make a serious and informed decision about immunisation."
However, she did not have the authority to stop it.
"As the Australian Vaccination-sceptics Network is a New South Wales-registered business, the Queensland Department of Health is legally unable to restrict their movements in this state," she said.
"Nor are we able to ban them from participating at a privately operated event.
"If event organisers of health expos practise due diligence, they would not invite groups such as the Network to participate because that organisation is not healthy at all."Dr Young also explained Queensland Health had to respond to complaints on the Department's Facebook page about the AVN making "false claims regarding our participation in this expo".
"I can confirm, and reiterate, that Queensland Health has no involvement in this expo, largely because the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service Public Health Unit was unable to staff a stand," she said.
"Further, the invitation to attend involved participating in a debate on immunisation. This was declined as immunisation is not something a Queensland Health public health employee would debate."
Late yesterday the Expo organisers were claiming a victory for "free speech".
Wayne Pina-Roozemond said they had received more requests to allow freedom of speech than to ban Ms Dorey and the Network for next weekend's event.
"Emails not to have her at the Expo were 304, those who were in favour of freedom of speech being more important were 585," Mr Pina-Roozemond claimed.
A petition had raised 1043 signatures in favour of allowing "free speech" and giving Ms Dorey the opportunity to voice her opinion, he said.
An online petition calling for Ms Dorey to be banned had raised 527 signatures last yesterday.
Mr Pina-Roozemond said the Expo could face litigation for breeching a commercial arrangement if it did not have a written authorisation from someone in power to deny the request.