A political party under fire for questioning the use of vaccines and advocating for natural medicine has scored the top spot on the NSW Senate ballot papers.
The Health Australia Party’s strike of luck can spell an election win for its founder and lead NSW candidate Andrew Patterson, a naturopath. Because location, location, location: this is prime real estate for its ability to seize the accidental support of donkey voters who back the first box on the hefty papers out of
laziness ease. (FYI, here’s more on why you shouldn’t do this.)
It is widely believed the success of Liberal Democrats senator David Leyonhjelm in 2013 was down to the party snagging the first position on the ballot papers - as well as confusing voters with its name similar to the Liberal party. Places on Senate ballot papers are allocated by a blindfolded Australian Electoral Commission staffer who picks numbered balls out of a barrel.
Early voting is now open, so before you unwittingly or intentionally cast a vote for the Health Australia Party - originally registered as the Natural Medicine Party - here's what you need to know about their policies, largely revolving around natural health.
- The party questions the effectiveness of vaccines and is opposed to the Coalition's No Jab, No Pay policy that makes immunisation compulsory for parents to claim childcare repayments. They believe "the present epidemic of chronic diseases in Australia needs to be managed using a different paradigm which includes natural medicine, and that potentially serious infectious diseases be managed using a thoroughly researched program of immunisation that is both safe and effective."
- They believe "natural medicine should be placed on an equal footing with pharmaceutical medicine" and Australians shouldn't be disadvantaged financially for their choice in the former.
- They state women should be eligible for free maternity care regardless of whether they choose a home birth because it "posed no greater risk than hospital birth". "Women have reported feeling more relaxed in their own homes, which in turn reduces stress levels, and enhances the ease and experience of birth."
- They are anti-euthanasia: "Under no circumstances should a government agency ever be empowered to independently end anyone's life."
- There are against the use of fluoride, which is in tap water to prevent tooth decay. The party claims "fluoride are toxic chemical waste products that are classified as class 6 poisons and should not be placed into public water supplies."
- They call for more funding for natural medicine research - and criticise current research as "biased" and "manipulated to produce results which serve vested interests, but which is then used by politicians to form the basis of public health decisions. The HAP will expose deliberate corruption in medical research."
- They have also hinted they support chiropractors treating babies. (Remember the guy who made headlines in April after treating a newborn?)
— Nathan Lee (@NathanLee) June 10, 2016
The Health Australia Party, which has candidates running across the country, is now being put under the microscope by critics.
Heads up! 'Health Australia Party' is code for anti-immunisation activists. Pass it on at the sosso sizzle. https://t.co/xMlQfXWc13
— Kaz Cooke (@reallykazcooke) June 10, 2016
But the party's lead Victorian candidate Dr Isaac Golden - who describes himself as a "world authority" on homeopathic 'immunisation' - has denied the party is vaccine sceptic.
"Because we do not support the No Jab legislation does not make us vaccine sceptics, it joins us with the many people who questioned this punitive legislation. And this legislation has been questioned by medical experts as well as groups such as the Law Institute of Victoria," he said in a statement.
A new app has been launched to help protect the community against vaccine-preventable diseases. Post continues after video...
Dr Golden also stated that "our profession needs committed representation at the highest political level" in response to "well funded, sustained and coordinated attacks on natural medicine in Australia."
He claimed their health policies were based on facts, not conspiracies. He then took aim at "pharma trolls ... used to spread misinformation against any individuals or organisations that question the dominance of pharmaceutical medicine in our increasingly expensive disease-management system."