UPDATE: The Queensland Health Minister has released a statement regarding this issue. The full text can be found here.
UPDATE: News Editor Rick Morton just spoke to Festival Executive Director Bill Hauritz about the decision to bring Meryl Dorey into speak.
Q: Does the Festival feel it appropriate to give a platform to a woman who has been officially discredited as any type of vaccination expert?
Bill: Look, I’m not going to get into that. There are a lot of discredited artists and talkers and singers and songwriters at the Festival and we’re about giving a voice to a diverse range … something like 400 artists there.
Q: But surely if a singer/songwriter is discredited, that doesn’t pose a public health risk does it?
Bill: Who says it is dangerous? There are a lot of people out there who believe this whole vaccination thing is not an open and shut case. Is anybody willing to say that all vaccinations are 100% safe?
Q: I don’t think even doctors say that, Bill. Is Meryl billed as an expert for her talk?
Bill: I suppose she would regard herself as an expert, yes. Look, when this issue hit the floor yesterday I typed into Google ‘doctors against vaccinations’ and there are page and pages and pages of results of information. I wonder about the tactics of the science lobby.
Q: Why do you call it a lobby? That seems fairly indicative of your personal views don’t you think?
Bill: I didn’t mean to call it a lobby. I just get wary when people are trying to sell stuff on the Internet.
Q: I don’t think scientists necessarily want to sell anything?
Bill: Look, it doesn’t make a difference. We’ve already entered into contracts with Meryl Dorey and we cannot break those contracts now. We’re 10 days away from opening the gates to the festival. The damage is already done.
Q: Is Meryl Dorey being paid for her appearance?
Bill: I honestly haven’t seen the contracts. I’d say she isn’t.
Q: Can you understand the backlash you have received? You know it isn’t about diverse views. It’s about spruiking information that has been officially debunked. Do you understand the issue many have with Dorey is that she is not a statistician, a researcher, a scientist and has no level of expertise as found by the Health Care Complaints Commission which ordered her to be upfront about her anti-vaccination stance?
Bill: Everyone has a right to their opinion.
Q: But surely not to their own facts? Are you worried people will boycott the festival now?
Bill: Let them, they have every right to.