In a move that displays the worst of medical politics, the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) has once again issued a public warning against the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network, Inc. (AVN). This office and the way in which they have carried out their ‘investigation’ are an absolute disgrace. They have made themselves into a laughing stock. Far worse, they have clearly demonstrated that nobody can have faith in any statements made by this government body when they continue to rely upon verifiably incorrect and biased information.
Several years ago, the HCCC conducted a year-long ‘investigation’ into our citizen-run healthcare consumer watchdog group. They did this at the behest of the Australian Skeptics and their splinter group, Stop the AVN – organisations with close ties to pharmaceutical and mainstream medical interests.
Despite strong evidence that they lacked the jurisdiction to either investigate or cite our organisation, the HCCC did both. The AVN took the matter to the Supreme Court where justice was served by the AVN’s win. The HCCC was found to have acted illegally and both their investigation and public warning were thrown out. Costs were awarded to the AVN.
Within weeks of their loss, the HCCC sought and were given unprecedented new powers specifically to ‘get’ the AVN. These powers enabled them to file their own complaint against the AVN, investigate and then, pass judgement without any oversight.
Our group has done everything within its power to work cooperatively with Alana McKaysmith (the investigator), Tony Kofkin (Director of Investigations), and Kieran Pehm (the Commissioner). For all this time, the department not only ignored most of our submissions – they also refused to answer questions or provide documentary evidence for their claims, many of which were either demonstrably or intentionally incorrect.
We invite you to consider the serious implications of government departments and public officials who behave as though they are above the law and allow themselves to become tools for corporate financial interests instead of supporting the tax-paying public as is their stated mission.
The AVN calls on the Government of NSW to explain why an investigation, using taxpayer funds, was carried out in such an incompetent and unfair manner. We would like to ask how a body like the HCCC, which is supposed to protect the health of the citizens of this State, can openly abuse their privileged position in order to conduct a vendetta against a legally constituted citizen-run support group.