Hanson refuses to back down from vaccination comments as furore rises


Pauline Hanson has defended and reinforced her anti-vaccination sentiments by encouraging parents to test their children before immunising.

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has continued to stand by her comments against immunisation, despite critics slamming her advice as "dangerous" and "ludicrous".

During an interview on the ABC's Insiders program on Sunday, Senator Hanson urged parents to do their own research before having their children vaccinated.

She also accused the government of “blackmailing” parents by withholding welfare payments for un-vaccinated children.

“Don't do that to people," she said.

"That's a dictatorship."

Her comments prompted a flood of criticism from politicians and health advocacy groups alike, but it did not stop her furthering her claims while campaigning in Western Australia.

Watch the PM on Hanson's comments:


After arriving in Perth, Senator Hanson urged parents to “make sure” that they have the right information before heading to a doctor.

“Apparently there is a test you can get done to see if the child is allergic to the vaccination or not,” she said.

“People have said that they feel that their children may be allergic to it.

“I’m not telling the people not to vaccinate their children; I’m telling people investigate it.” 

Watch Hanson defend her comments:


Among those to criticise Senator Hanson's comments was Catherine Hughes, the director of Immunisation Foundation of Australia.

Ms Hughes began campaigning for greater immunisation rates after losing her baby son, Riley, to whooping cough in 2015.

She told SBS News it was "disappointing that someone in such a powerful position has such little knowledge about the importance and safety of vaccination".

Watch the AMA on Hanson's comments:


"She shows a total lack of regard towards the health and safety of Australian children, and doesn’t seem to have an understanding of the value of preventative medicine," Ms Hughes said.

"Unfortunately, people who are opposed to vaccination are using her words as validation for their anti-vaccination conspiracy theories. 

"By encouraging people to 'do their own research' on vaccination, she is insinuating parents have the resources and abilities to conduct better medical research than scientists and doctors. 

"It’s a ludicrous thing to say. In the past she has linked vaccines with autism and other diseases, which has the potential to sway a parents decision about vaccination. 

"These are misinformed and dangerous statements."

It prompted a passionate response from the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Monday who said those who did not vaccinate were “putting their own children’s health at risk”.

“They are putting the health of everybody else's children at risk as well, so, that is why vaccination is so important,” he said.

The Australian Medical Association used social media to urge Australians to “always trust a doctor before a politician”.

“The AMA and doctors everywhere are happy to report that vaccines save lives, control and eradicate disease,” the organisation said.

“Immunisation programs have achieved such great success, some people have become complacent. The stakes are too high for complacency.”

AMA President Dr Michael Gannon tweeted thousands could be maimed if vaccination denial spreads.

Former AMA President Brian Owler accused Senator Hanson of embracing conspiracy theories and being “dangerous and ignorant.”

Grattan Institute Health Director Stephen Duckett said he was "disgusted" by the senator’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 told ABC radio on Monday. 

"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 to ensure that everybody is vaccinated.”

Labor leader Bill Shorten also used social media to condemn Senator Hanson's comments.

“One Nation's campaign of misinformation is plain dangerous,” he said.

Ms Hughes encouraged parents to discuss any concerns with their doctor.

"Nobody wants to watch their child die from a disease that could have been prevented with a simple needle – please vaccinate," she said.


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