Australian politicians have rounded on Pauline Hanson's stance on vaccination, labelling her "dangerous", "uninformed" and urging her to educate herself.
One Nation leader Hanson told ABC's Insiders program on Sunday "I advise parents to go out and do their own research with regards to [vaccinations]" because they can "have an effect on some children". It's not the first time Hanson has questioned vaccinations -- last January, she made the long-discredited and rubbished claim that vaccines can cause autism, and even cancer.
"I have had so many people who have brought it to my attention, that's why their kids are autistic," Hanson told the Daily Mail.
"We haven't done the research enough, what is causing these kids to have autism, what is having all the cancer in our community, have we had enough answers into the cancer?"
On Insiders on Sunday, Hanson criticised the 'no jab no pay' laws which block welfare payments for parents who don't vaccinate their kids.
"What I don't like about it is the blackmailing that's happening with the government. Don't do that to people. That's a dictatorship. I think people have a right to investigate themselves," she said.
"I hear from so many parents, where are their rights? Why aren't you prepared to listen to them? Why does it have to be one way?"
The backlash to Hanson's misinformed comments began almost instantly, with Labor's health spokesperson Catherine King taking aim.
Appalled to hear Pauline Hanson's comments re vaccination on #insiders. They aren't just wrong - they are dangerous. Gvt needs to condemn— Catherine King MP (@CatherineKingMP) March 4, 2017
On Monday, Labor leader Bill Shorten wrote to Hanson telling her to do some more research of her own.
"These comments are wrong and potentially dangerous. Such misplaced comments could have the effect of reducing rates of immunisation and should be refuted. As the Leader of the Labor Party and as a father, I ask you to retract these comments as misinformation on an issue critical to the lives of so many people has the potential to have serious consequences," Shorten wrote.
"The evidence that vaccinations are safe and effective is equally supported by independent regulators internationally. Any suggestion that these rigorous processes are not adhered to is simply wrong. I encourage you to seek a briefing from the Australian Government's Chief Medical Officer as soon as possible."
Shorten fired a veiled shot at Hanson disputing accepted science with no evidence to support her claims.
"The safety of every Australian relies on the credibility of this evidence and should not be in anyway undermined, particularly through uninformed comments that will only harm people's health. Vaccinations save lives and people in positions of public leadership should always back the science," he wrote.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull stopped short of criticising Hanson directly but outlined the success of vaccination programs.
"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 said.
"The health of our children and the health of the nation depends on vaccination and that has to be as close to 100 per cent as possible. It is a vital health objective to ensure that everybody is vaccinated."
Australia's medical community was also outraged at Hanson's comments. Former Australian Medical Association president Brian Owler was upset at her "conspiracy theory":
Current AMA president Michael Gannon said nearly 10 per cent of Australian parents "are so-called vaccine-hesitant" and "can be swayed very easily by any message which might be seen to question the validity of the science".
"I can tell you that it is the lament of doctors and scientists across Australia that evidence-based treatments do get called into question," he told Sky News on Monday.
"Now whether that's childhood vaccination, adult vaccination, other extremely important health measures like putting fluoride in tap water - they are the stuff of conspiracy theorists all the time. Because we don't see things like polio now, because most people haven't seen a child damaged by measles, we take it for granted as to the public health benefits of it."
Public health expert Simon Chapman also called Hanson's comments into question:
The CEO of Autism Awareness also sent a shot:Suggest a correction