Australia’s anti-vaxxers have taken to bombarding minor parties with requests for policy information in a move that has resulted in a confusing and damaging messaging from the Arts Party. The Arts Party was forced to make a statement regarding vaccinations by the Australian Vaccination Skeptics Network with an opening line that reads:

“The Arts Party recognise that the science on vaccination is not certain. Specifics of whether an individual may, or may not, have an adverse reaction to any medication is never definite.”

It goes on to say:

“The Arts Party believe that the weight of evidence is in favour of universal vaccinations; that universal vaccination does more good than harm and that it has been shown to be of overall medical benefit to everyone in society,” somewhat contradicting the opening line. While being pro-vaccination, The Arts Party said they are against the No Jab No Pay policy, on the basis it is “an overbearing and improper way in which to coerce individuals”.

A tipster told Crikey that she would no longer be voting for the Arts Party because of the statement, which the AVSN has trumpeted as a victory. The Arts Party Leader, PJ Collins, told Crikey the statement was prepared by someone in the party after they were flooded with emails last week from the anti-vax group, asking what their position was. Collins said they would never have commented on the issue if they hadn’t been a target of mass emailing. It seems the party was baited in an attack on minor parties.

Since the initial statement, The Arts Party has clarified its position on its website, to reiterate the stance of pro-vaccination, though remaining concerned the public are being forced to vaccinate their children “at the barrel of a gun”. Instead of being penalised, Collins believes parents should be encouraged and shown the value of vaccination. The leader says the last few days has been “painful”.

Peter Fray

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