We need your help to spread the word here, everyone. A party with dangerous policies and a misleading name has snagged the first position on the Senate ballot in NSW, and might become your Senate representative thanks to donkey votes.
Originally (and more transparently) called the "Natural Medicine Party", the rebranded "Health Australia Party" is running on the platform that, according to their policy statement, "natural medicine should be placed on an equal footing with pharmaceutical medicine". You remember pharmaceutical medicine - back in the day, we used to just call it "medicine" (as in, the opposite of "quackery"). It's the type which comes with actual scientific evidence that it actually works.
These policies could result, for example, in taxpayer funding of homeopathic remedies by putting them on the PBS, or traditional folk remedies being offered to cancer patients in the oncology ward, as suggested by the Health Party Australia Policy Statement.
Here's a tweet from their Senate candidate voicing concern that vaccinations are (gasp!) administered to people of all ages:
And another one in which he promises to ban something which doesn't exist:
Health Australia believes that:
- “Natural medicine should be placed on an equal footing with pharmaceutical medicine." Policy 1.1.1
- There is conspiracy regarding radio waves produced by electronic devices, and scientists are "hijacking" information about electromagnetic safety. Policy 3.3.3
- Fluoride is a "toxic chemical waste product that is classified as class 6 poison and should not be placed into public water supplies." Policy 1.7
- In the above, Health Australia is not referring to natural medicines that have been scientifically proven and are recognised by medical experts. The following quote gives a better idea: “The Health Australia Party (HAP) was formed in 2015 to respond to the well funded, sustained and coordinated attacks on natural medicine in Australia which have placed our homeopathic profession at risk”
The real problem is that they have a serious shot at getting elected by mistake. Their name is innocuous enough - everyone likes health, right? And a quick browse of their website yields a reassuring lack of anti-vaccine rants, and vaguely calming talk of centrism, openness, independence, consensus, and so forth.
On top of this, they've now drawn first place - the most prominent left-hand column - on the Senate voting ballot. About 1-2% of votes are "donkey votes" where people just tick the first box because they can't be bothered. Add another couple of percent composed of genuine support, and another couple because people like the name and, what the hell, it's right in front of them…
Our post-election hangover agony might include HAP sitting in the Federal Senate, agitating for Medicare funding for herbal medicine.
The only way that the Health Australia Party can be stopped is for you to make sure that everyone knows what they are about. So please share this article with your friends and family.
Co-written by James Jansson, Michael Strack and the members of the Science Party discussion group.
Note: This article originally said vaccines "administered to people of all ages: except they're not. For example, very young infants don't even have an immune system which is mature enough to respond to vaccines". Hepatitis B is administered to children at birth.
Note: This article has been updated to state that this is referring to the Senate for New South Wales.