Pauline Hanson has been slammed over her comments regarding the government’s new vaccination scheme.
“What I don’t like about it is the blackmailing that’s happening with the government,” Hanson told ABC TV during a discussion on the government’s new ‘No Jab, No Play’ policy.
“Don’t do that to people. That’s a dictatorship. And I think people have a right to investigate themselves.”
“What I’ve heard from parents and their concerns about it ... and what I have said is I advise parents to go out and do their own research with regards to this,” she added.
Catherine Hughes, whose son Riley tragically died from Whooping Cough in 2015 has labeled the comments “disgraceful”.
“My son died a horrible death from whooping cough. Your uneducated comments about vaccination are a disgrace to children,” she wrote on the Light for Riley Twitter page, the charity she established in memory of her son.
“And with vaccination fear-mongering, unfortunately it is often the innocent – like little babies who are too young to be vaccinated – who suffer from lowered vaccination rates,” Ms Hughes told Mamamia.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has since defended the policy, citing vaccination as a “vital health objective”.
"If parents choose not to vaccinate their children, they are putting their children's health at risk and every other person's children's health at risk too," he told reporters in Queensland on Sunday.
Stephen Duckett, a former federal health department head and now director of health at the Grattan Institute has also slammed Hanson’s comments as “ignorant” and dangerous.
“This is a situation where you’ve got a popular politician with a significant following who’s actually giving crazy, crazy medical advice,” he told ABC radio on Monday.
“Vaccines are safe,” he said.
“I cannot stress how angry it makes one feel that she is putting lives at risk ... without any evidence whatsoever.”
The government’s ‘No Jab, No Play’ policy prevents parents from receiving childcare rebates and certain welfare payments if their children are not properly vaccinated.
“It is not forcing parents to vaccinate their children but it’s sending the message that the government is trying to look after children,” Australian Medical Association’s NSW president, Brad Frankum tells the Daily Telegraph.
“The way she has framed it is that somehow a non-medical parent is going to make a more informed decision about the value of vaccination than the entire medical profession,” Professor Frankum added.
“That’s very dangerous, really. It is going to give people the idea that they can avoid vaccination (for their kids).”