Freedom of health under attack
As emailed to me from Avaaz.org
Sign the petition to stop it;
The NSW watchdog about to be turned upon an unsuspecting public.
The NSW Parliament is about to make laws that gag freedom of speech. Even China and Russia don’t have laws like this.
If the HCCC has its way, in future, any member of the public that questioned the commonly held medical consensus or gives advice could be gagged and have legal proceedings taken against them. This is a very slippery and dangerous legislative slope.
Please read the terms of reference for this Committee and then read on…
Please also sign the petition to the NSW Parliament
The Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) was originally set up to protect the public from dangerous medical practices They were to be an independent overseer that could adjudicate whenever there was a question of someone being harmed by medical treatments – an all-too common event in Australia. According to their website, they describe themselves as being: “an independent body to deal with complaints about health service providers in NSW.”
Since they were established, however, the HCCC seems to have been perverted into a caricature of its original purpose. Instead of protecting the public from dangerous medical practices, – it apparently wants to protect mainstream medical establishment and drug companies from the public.
Interestingly enough the HCCC don’t seem to be too concerned that western drug based medicine makes claims for treatments and therapies with little or no evidence. And lets not mention the falsified studies and ghost written articles.
The BMJ’s website “Clinical Evidence” reports that, of the 3000 treatments they have surveyed, only 11% of medical treatments are rated as beneficial, and 23% likely to be beneficial (they don’t know for sure), while 67% are of unknown or of unlikely effectiveness or harmful.
Yet the HCCC has decided its the mums and dads and the general public that should be regulated and debate shut down and not the medical establishment or drug companies…
The HCCC refused to investigate Graeme Reeves, the Butcher of Bega, despite complaints from more than 500 women he had sexually abused and mutilated. They also refused to investigate the hospital responsible for the death of Don Mackay, a quadriplegic whose horrific death was caused by gross negligence by that facility.
Yet they spent an entire year and, we conservatively estimate, several million dollars, illegally ‘investigating’ the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN).
The AVN vs the HCCC – David vs Goliath
The AVN is a group of parents and other members of the public who question the science used to market and promote the effectiveness and safety of vaccination as well as champion informed consent. They also use scientific studies and data to support their claims.
In 2010 the HCCC took aim at the AVN, and demanded they put a disclaimer on their website stating that their information was not to be used as medical advice (a disclaimer the AVN had always had on their webpage) and that their information was solely anti-vaccine – a statement which was not true and did not represent the AVN’s position. The AVN took action against this attempt to silence them and brought the case against them to the Supreme Court of NSW. The AVN prevailed. The AVN were able to prove that the HCCC’s actions were illegal. They proved that the HCCC had also acted arrogantly and at great cost to the public purse in their relentless pursuit of this small, community-based group.
A great deal of intelligent legal advice had clearly demonstrated that the HCCC were acting outside of their jurisdiction in either investigating or citing the AVN. The fact that the HCCC continued to pursue this course of action is indicative of the way in which they have operated for at least the past decade. The law does not seem to be any obstacle to the HCCC.
It was a huge embarrassment for those wanting the AVN silenced to lose this case. A well-funded government behemoth going against a tiny parent-run support group and losing. Such an uneven battle might be expected to go the other way, but in this case justice was served and the AVN won.
Perhaps egos were damaged by the AVN victory because, since that time, the HCCC has been trying its hardest to finish what they started – forcing the AVN and any other organisation discussing the problems with vaccination to close down and stop talking about these issues. In addition, they now seek to stop anyone, anywhere from disseminating information which is in any way critical of mainstream medicine.
Can you imagine what would happen if the HCCC had such future powers of censorship that it is seeking now, in the days of Thalidomide that created birth defects in babies, or the recent VIOXX scandal in which over 50,000 people died world-wide from taking the rheumatoid arthritis drug. The dangers of VIOXX were well known by members of the public long before the drug companies and governments acted, and this information was promulgated by the public. The HCCC would have powers to stop the dissemination of this information.
We may not be able to make any claims for Homeopathy even if two Nobel Scientists do make these claims and scientific studies do confirm some effectiveness, because medical consensus says that there is no evidence.
And will the HCCC close down websites and create internet filters so people in NSW do not have access to health information around the globe? The AVN is not the only website that questions vaccination safely and effectiveness, there are a multitude of websites asking the same questions and presenting the opposing scientific arguments. Here are over 300 scientific studies that question the effectiveness and safety of vaccination. How will the HCCC stop internet traffic to this site or others?
Will the HCCC stop independent film makers from making documentary films that question such topics as vaccines or other related topics.
New powers for the HCCC would allow them to shut down any public debate with regards to the recent scientific controversy relative to Statin drugs and Cholesterol. The ABC Catalyst program ran a two part series questioning the cholesterol-heart disease myth. The medical establishment have already blamed the Catalyst program for possibly causing death and injury by reporting the issue
ABC Catalyst – Heart of the Matter Part 1 – Cholesterol Drug War
ABC Catalyst – Heart of the Matter Part 2 – Cholesterol Drug War
If the HCCC has its way, in future, any member of the public that questioned the commonly held medical consensus or gives advice otherwise could be gagged and have legal proceedings taken against them. This is a very slippery and dangerous legislative slope.
Nearly limitless powers
The HCCC can truly be said to be above the law in NSW. To the best of our knowledge, they are one of only two bodies in the country which are not subject to subpoena (a court order to produce documentation) or Freedom of Information (GIPA in NSW) claims (the other is the Australian Crimes Commission), so they are able to operate in secret should they wish to do so.
But these powers were obviously not enough for them because after their loss in 2012, they appealed to the NSW Parliament for a virtual blank cheque to investigate, cite and punish the AVN and any other organisation or individual who goes against government health policy. Now, not only can they choose to investigate any complaint from anyone about the AVN or others, even if they have never dealt with or been harmed in any way by these organisations – the HCCC can also file their own complaints and then, investigate and adjudicate them. Judge, jury and executioner – that is the power Parliament granted to the HCCC – all to ‘get’ the AVN
But it STILL wasn’t enough
Several days ago, we became aware that the Parliamentary Committee for the Health Care Complaints Commission is once more considering increasing the already ludicrous level of powers the HCCC possesses.
According to the Medical Observer:
“Meanwhile, a NSW parliamentary committee has launched an inquiry into the HCCC’s powers in relation to unregistered health groups. That inquiry is also a response to the HCCC’s conflict with the AVN.”
Even though the impetus for this inquiry seems to have been the HCCC’s loss to the AVN, The Promotion of False or Misleading Health-Related Information or Practices (Inquiry) goes far beyond anything this organisation has previously asked for or been granted and targets anyone who speaks about, researches or uses any form of natural therapy instead of mainstream medicine or disseminates information to friends, family or public, contrary to the commonly accepted medical dogma.
Hypothetically, you might know a friend or member of the public who is considering chemotherapy for cancer. You might tell them that a scientific study in 2004 shows that chemotherapy is only 2.3% effective. Yet this persons doctor tells them that they should have chemotherapy. You may then be prosecuted by the HCCC.
It is a medical establishment and pharmaceutical drug company’s dream come true and this should be a grave concern to anyone in Australia who either uses or dispenses holistic treatments or other treatments that do not conform to the established medical paradigm.
It is also crossing well over the line of the constitutionally-guaranteed right to politically free speech since the recommendations discussed appear to be seeking punishment for and sanctions against any individual or organisation that even talks about these issues.
Terms of Reference (ToR)
The terms of reference (ToR) can be reached at this link. They are only one page long and I urge everyone to read them carefully as it is chilling that any government body can even consider these sorts of restrictions to our basic and inalienable freedoms. China and Russia do not have legislation that makes freedom of speech illegal in regards to medical practices, research and debate yet the NSW Parliament don’t seem to see a problem with this.
They describe information that is critical of or would make others question mainstream medical treatments as being ‘false and misleading’ and therefore a punishable offence. The ToR state that people should not be allowed to give out information which could make people question accepted medical practice nor should anyone be allowed to discourage another from using medical therapies in favour of any natural treatments or other treatment.
The ToR covers the powers the HCCC currently has to cite and punish individuals they consider to be promoters of ‘false or misleading health-related information’ and how these powers can be used to take action against these individuals or organisations. Remember, this does not appear to be motivated by any harm to the public by natural therapies or any other treatments – as the Bain report in NZ showed, there is little to no harm being caused by natural therapies and a great deal by government-approved Western-medical practices. Instead, this committee is simply discussing how to stop people and organisations from being allowed to discuss health topics freely.
Submissions to the Committee
Submissions from the public are due by the 13th of December – that is less than 1 month from now. And whether you live in NSW or elsewhere, your submission could do an awful lot to show the NSW Parliament that people in the community support health rights, and oppose suppression.
We cannot tell you what you should say, nor are we allowed to share any submission with you (that is not allowed per the terms of this inquiry), but you can read submissions from an earlier HCCC Inquiry here to give you an idea of the format and types of information others have presented and to give you a head start in making your own contribution to this important debate.
In addition, you can download a document from the Parliament website here that will instruct you on the necessary procedures for submissions to Parliamentary committees.
Why you should make a submission
It will take all of us writing in to prevent this grave injustice from going forward. The intention of this inquiry is very clear – putting a stop to information which is not sanctioned by the current drug and allopathic medical model.
If you are a non-medical health practitioner, you need to make a submission soon, or you may face serious problems if you wish to practice in Australia. If your peak body (ATMS, ANTA, AHA, CAA, COCA, etc) is not making submissions, you need to alert them to this dangerous situation. They can help protect your business, your livelihood and the rights of your patients.
If you use any form of natural therapies (and over 2/3 of the Australian populace does), then you must also be making a submission – it does not need to be long – giving the Committee your opinion of these proposed new powers for the HCCC.
Everyone should be doing this and everyone should be forwarding this information to all and sundry.
Contact your own Member of Parliament in NSW (you can find their contact details at this link) and ask them where they stand on freedom of speech and health rights.
Write to your local newspaper (anywhere in the country) and ask when they will be doing a story on these efforts to penalise those who use and practice natural therapies. Let them know in no uncertain terms that you are expecting a balanced story too!
Call talkback radio programs and tell them about this inquiry and ask them to let others know about it too. Do anything and everything you can to spread information about this inquiry and to stop these changes in legislation from going ahead.
Because the truth is – if you don’t do this today – you won’t have the right to do it tomorrow.
Contact details for the Committee:
Address for written correspondence:
Committee on the Health Care Complaints Commission
Sydney NSW 2000
Fax: (02) 9230 3309
Written submissions can be uploaded via the Parliament website by clicking on this link or sent to (remember, the deadline is December 13th, 2013):
Committee on the Health Care Complaints Commission
Sydney NSW 2000
Fax: (02) 9230 3309
Alliance for Health Freedom Australia
‘All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing’
- Edmund Burke (1729-1797), British writer and politician -
Filed under: Governance