Australian Vaccination Network’s ad pulled by American Airlines

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A controversial Australian pressure group that claims vaccines can cause brain damage and cancer says it has been the victim of a witch-hunt after it was stopped from spreading its message overseas.

Australian Vaccination Network, which has been criticised for putting out misleading and irresponsible information based on “conspiracy theories”, had planned to run ads on American Airlines’ in-flight TV channel.

But just one month after the ads were announced, AA pulled the plug on the ads, which would have aired in June and July and which AVN claims would have been seen by 8.4 million people .

The group’s president Meryl Dorey told “We were offered a three minute slot, but because of the controversy from ‘Stop the AVN’ we lost it,” she said.

”They are about stifling public debate on this particular issue and whether you agree with us or not, let’s have an open debate.”

Ms Dorey claimed the airline’s decision had nothing to do with the content of the video, but was done to prevent bad publicity snowballing after a number of other groups opposed the ads.
“American (Airlines) has serious financial trouble right now and felt this was the last thing it needed,” she said.
“The fact is we are not misrepresenting science – you always have two sides.”

Daniel Raffaele from the group ‘Stop the AVN’, which says it kickstarted the campaign to pressure American Airlines into cutting the advertisements, told “Basically when it comes to information the AVN provides misinformation.”
“It’s completely spurious they don’t provide any evidence base for its arguments, they’re all based on conspiracy theories.”
Mr Raffaele rejected the AVN’s claim he was trying to stifle free speech and debate on vaccination’s alleged risks.
“The AVN does not bring balance to any debate,” he said. “They provide false balance.”

Earlier this year Ms Dorey’s group scored a victory in the NSW Supreme Court after it ruled a NSW Health Care Complaints Commission warning that the group “poses a risk to public health and safety” was outside the Commission’s jurisdiction. However the court did not rule that the warning the AVN was wrong.
In 2010 the group was stripped of its charity licence after the NSW Office of Gaming Liquor and Racing found that “AVN had breached charitable fundraising laws and potentially misled the public.”
Yesterday this licence was reinstated with OLGR saying the charity had rectified the earlier problems.

In 2007 the group was sued by the Australian Medical Association for falsely claiming the AMA took funding form pharmaceutical companies and censored information. The AVN was forced to issue a retraction and issue and apology.
Last year in December the Woodford Folk Festival was criticised for allowing Ms Dorey to address the crowd.
The Queensland Government defended the festival’s right to allow her to speak saying it was not going to censor anyone.

Herald Sun

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