When you think of the Health Australia Party,what do you think? Possibly nothing more than a passing thought about how they might be for the health of Australians, or might be wanting more from Medicare, however this isn’t exactly the case. In fact Health Australia Party used to be called the Natural Medicine Party but has since changed their name to reflect broader policies – policies which include anti-vaccination.
According to the ABC, a central policy is to have natural medicine put on an equal footing with “pharmaceutical medicine”.
The party also supports animal rights, food co-operatives, the Tobin tax system, which supports the taxing of foreign currency transactions, more academic freedom in universities, a Swiss-style national service system, and greater restrictions on herbicides and pesticides.
In the area of health, it wants “independent research into all aspects of natural and pharmaceutical medicine” and for potentially serious diseases to be managed “using a thoroughly researched program of immunisation that is both safe and effective”.
It suggests using natural medicine to manage chronic diseases, and it opposes fluoride in public water supplies.
National party spokesman Jason Woodforth rejected the suggestion the HAP is anti-vaccine.
He said the reason the party was seen as anti-vaccine was because it did not support the “no jab, no pay” or “no jab, no play” policies.
“The Health Party believes in safe and effective immunisation, always has. The problem we’ve got is there’s no adverse reactions register,” he said.
But the WA president of the Australian Medical Association Andrew Miller said he believed the Health Australia Party was misnamed.
“I think the Australian public are reasonably well-educated, probably more educated than they want to be about the election,” he said.
“They would be right to be suspicious of an organisation which holds itself out to promote health, and perhaps there would be a few people misled into voting for them thinking that what they’re trying to get here is a better health system.
“There should be some requirement of honesty in the way that these party names are put forward and I think this is getting pretty close to the borderline of being exactly the opposite of what its name suggests.”
Dr Miller also slammed the party’s policy on natural medicines, saying “I think that would be the same as placing witchcraft on an equal footing with scientific investigation, perhaps we could cut down on aeroplane flights if we all went on a broomstick,” he said.
“Alternative therapies for anything are accepted by the medical profession where they’re proven to work, and at that point, they become ‘therapies’ rather than ‘alternative therapies’,” he said.
“I understand that people are reluctant to use strong medications and pharmaceuticals, that’s a natural tendency, and there can be side effects and that’s why people hope there might be some other so-called natural therapy, but the big problem with natural therapies is they don’t actually work.”
Victorian candidate, Dr Isaac Golden (PhD), defended HAP’s policy on vaccination by saying they weren’t opposed to Australia’s vaccination system in general, just opposed to the economic punishment of parents who did not vaccinate their children.
“We believe that it is basically a denial of human rights to be coerced into having invasive medical procedures without giving informed consent,” he said. “This is the heart of the Nuremberg Code.”
“The vaccination damage reporting system in Australia is woeful,” he said. “This doesn’t make us anti-vaccination; this makes us concerned. But if people want to vaccinate then we have no problem with that, vaccination is an established part of mainstream medicine.”
Dr Sue Page, deputy chair of RACGP Rural, said she was concerned that voters would be misled by the group’s name and that if HAP members were elected they could have real impacts on health funding.
“What if they get into government in a position where they are able to block bills, or slow them down, because they say they want more research into something like a cancer drug?” Dr Page warned.
It’s certainly an interesting thing to consider this Saturday.