Prime Minister Scott Morrison has urged parents to ignore George Christensen, a member of his own government, after labelling the member for Dawson’s calls for parents not to immunise their children as “dangerous”.
The Queensland MP, who has announced he will not contest the next election, released a podcast on Tuesday morning under the title “Do NOT vax your children” accompanied by an interview with Dr Robert Malone, whose views on COVID-19 vaccinations have been widely debunked.
Dr Malone has been permanently suspended from Twitter for spreading COVID-19 misinformation.
“I strongly disagree with the message sent out by Mr Christensen regarding children’s vaccinations,” Mr Morrison said in a statement.
“It is contrary to the official professional medical advice provided to the government and I urge parents to disregard his dangerous messages in relation to vaccines.”
Mr Morrison said vaccinations were “our primary weapon against this virus” currently sweeping through the Australian population.
The statement, issued on Tuesday afternoon, made no mention of any action the government might take against Mr Christensen.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said the inaction was a “failure of leadership” on the part of the Prime Minister.
“Scott Morrison has just presided over a circumstance, which has been watched by the whole world, of the deportation of Novak Djokovic,” he told Sydney radio 2SM.
“… At the same time as, eventually, there was action taken, there’s been no action taken whatsoever against [South Australian Liberal Senator] Alex Antic, George Christensen and [Queensland Nationals Senator] Matt Canavan at various times.
“They have said some rather extraordinary things. These are people who are out there promoting ideas that are based upon conspiracy theories, which, if listened to, would have a bad health outcome for people who would follow their advice.”
The Nationals’ leader, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, has long said Mr Christensen had a right to express his views.
“We’ve got anti-vaxxers, certainly, but they’re not from overseas,” Mr Joyce told this masthead earlier this week.
“What can [we] do? As much as [Immigration Minister Alex] Hawke would like, he can’t send any of our politicians to Serbia.”
But Mr Albanese said, as government MPs, they had extra responsibility.
“As Australians, they can say whatever they like, but these are government members,” he said.
“They shouldn’t say whatever they like as members of the Australian government.”
Earlier, Health Minister Greg Hunt said he had not heard about Mr Christensen’s comments.
“Vaccinations save lives and I would flatly, plainly disagree with anyone who said that,” he said.
“… Anti-vaxxers aren’t just losing the debate, they’ve lost the debate.
“We’re at a 95 per cent national 16-plus vaccination rate. That’s beyond the conception of almost any commentator or observer through the course of the pandemic and yet we pushed through.”
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