Hanson stirs controversy over vaccines, Putin, Islam

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson. Source: AAP

SBS World News Radio: One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has come under heavy criticism for her views on vaccinations, expressed during a lengthy interview on national television.

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has spurred a furious response from the medical profession after saying parents should not be "blackmailed" into vaccinating their children.

In a 20-minute interview on the ABC on the weekend, Senator Hanson compared it with the moves of a dictatorship.

"What I don't like about it is the blackmailing that's happening with the government. Don't do that to people. That's a dictatorship. And I think people have a right to investigate themselves. Have a test, and see if you don't have a reaction to it first, then you can have the vaccination, you know? But I hear from so many parents. Where are their rights? Why aren't you prepared to listen to them?"

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was quick to respond.

He says the categorical advice from medical experts, based on decades of research and evidence, is that vaccinations save lives.

"If parents choose not to vaccinate their children, they are putting their children's health at risk and every other person's children's health at risk, too. The health of our children, the health of the nation, depends on vaccination, and that has to be as close to 100 per cent as possible. It is a vital health objective to ensure that everybody is vaccinated. And that's why, from the beginning of last year, we introduced the 'no jab, no pay' policy, or, as you know, if kids aren't vaccinated, then their parents won't get access to various childcare and other benefits."

Health Minister Cameron Dick says Senator Hanson is speaking about an issue she does not understand.

"Immunisation has proven to be one of the miracles of modern medicine. Millions of lives have been saved, so everyone in public life has a responsibility to promote vaccination, including Mrs Hanson."

Likewise, the health program director at the Melbourne-based Grattan Institute, Dr Stephen Duckett, has told the ABC he is angry about Senator Hanson's remarks.

"I was absolutely disgusted. This is a situation where we've got a popular politician with a significant following who's actually giving crazy, crazy medical advice. Vaccines are safe. I cannot stress how angry it makes one feel that she is putting lives at risk, kids who need vaccinations, even older people who need vaccinations in winter to avoid getting the flu and so on. She is putting all these people at risk without any evidence whatsoever."

Senator Hanson also drew more criticism after opening up about her respect and admiration for Russian president Vladimir Putin.

"I respect the man. He is very patriotic towards his country, the people love him, he's doing so well for the country. So many Australians here want that leadership here in Australia. They want a leader here to stand up for the people and fight for this nation."

The One Nation leader dismissed suggestions President Putin was responsible for Russia's role in the downing of Flight MH17 over Ukraine.

Investigators have found the plane was shot down by Russian-backed rebels, killing almost 300 people, including 38 Australians.

She debates that.

(Hanson:) "If he was, have you got the proof that he did it?"

(Interviewer:) "No, no, but they did say the missile came from Russia, and he is the leader."

(Hanson:) "Well, did he push the button? See, there's a lot of things here, Barrie. You're ... you know ... we say these things."

Malcolm Turnbull has flatly rejected those remarks, too.

"Vladimir Putin's Russia is subject to international sanctions, to which Australia is a party, because of his conduct in shooting down the MH17 airliner in which 38 Australians were killed. Let's not forget that. That was a shocking international crime. He's also invaded his neighbour, Ukraine, seized its territory, breaching international law. So Vladimir Putin's Russia is not, and should not be, an object of admiration in any respect."

Senator Hanson is also not pulling back on her views on Islam, which she says is a political ideology rather than a religion.

"It's purporting to be a religion, but I believe it is a political ideology, (that they) want to impose their sharia law and impose their way of life and their thoughts, processes, on the rest of our society. They hate Western society. They want to change us. Do you want to be changed? Do you want to become, you know ... would you be happy under Islam?"

Former Islamic Council of Victoria secretary Kuranda Seyit says it is disappointing she is using such divisive language.

"It's really sad, because these people are genuine people who have come to Australia to make it a better place, like all the thousands of migrant stories we have, and including people who are refugees and asylum seekers. They've come here because they're fleeing violence. They're not here to create more violence. They're not here to change our way of life."



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