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June 30, 2020

Vaccination and the Media – Conflicts of Interest in Australia

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By Elizabeth Hart, CHD Guest Contributor

 

Around the world there’s a constant barrage of articles in the mainstream corporate media berating ‘anti-vaxxers’ and hindering citizens asking legitimate questions about vaccination policy.

In Australia recently The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age have published a series of articles with an ‘anti-vaxxer’ theme – what is the motive behind the labelling and marginalisation of people who ask questions about vaccination? This is especially important to consider now as research on questionable coronavirus vaccines is being fast-tracked around the world.

Conflicts of interest are clouding this issue. For an Australian perspective, see below independent vaccination campaigner Elizabeth Hart’s challenge to former politician Peter Costello. Costello is now Chairman of an Australian government investment fund which includes over a billion dollars’ worth of vaccine company shares, while he also chairs a media company which publishes articles demeaning and marginalising people who question the ever-increasing number of lucrative vaccine products being added to the vaccination schedule.

There’s a murky story to uncover about relationships between the media and vaccine industry…and connections with government. We the people have to work on exposing this scandal ourselves…

16 June 2020

For the attention of:
Mr Peter Costello
Chairman of the Board of Guardians of the Future Fund
Non-Executive Chairman of Nine Entertainment Co

Dear Mr Costello,

It appears you have alarming conflicts of interest in your roles as Independent Non-Executive Chairman of Nine Entertainment Co, and Chairman of the Board of Guardians of the Future Fund.

Nine Entertainment Co’s media promotes biased articles on vaccination, which ignore citizens’ valid concerns about vaccination policy and the burgeoning number of vaccine products being added to schedules without consultation, while the Future Fund has over a billion dollars invested in companies which inter alia manufacture lucrative vaccine products, i.e. CSL, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Merck.

Consider below recent articles published in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and other publications, which are generally couched as attacks on ‘anti-vaxxers’, and fail to provide critical analysis of complicated matters relevant to taxpayer-funded vaccination policy, i.e.

  • ‘Dangerous’: Researchers note ‘massive uptick’ in anti-vaccination activity. Wendy Tuohy, 14 June 2020
  • Government must counter misinformation on vaccinations. The Herald’s View, 14 June 2020
  • Experts warn of new strains of misinformation as COVID-19 seeds conspiracy theories. Tim Biggs, 8 June 2020
  • ‘Slap them down’ or hear them out: How to handle misinformation ‘superspreaders’? Wendy Tuohy, 31 May 2020
  • ‘Act now’: AMA urges health education to combat ‘growing’ anti-vaxxer movement. Max Koslowski, 25 May 2020
  • Federal ministers flooded with unprecedented level of anti-vaccination mail. Max Koslowski, 24 May 2020
  • Queensland bans NRL players who refuse flu jab on non-medical grounds. Laine Clark and Scott Bailey, 12 May 2020
  • Flu-jab duo face potential pay freeze as NRL, Titans brace for courtroom showdown. Michael Chammas and Sarah Keoghan, 11 May 2020
  • Anti-vaccination activists use coronavirus to push resistance to inoculation. Peter Jamison, 6 May 2020
  • Vaccination-sceptic political party wins name change despite heavyweight objectors. Zach Hope, 2 May 2020
  • ‘Anti-vaxxers stay home’: Health Minister issues warning, announces new flu vaccine program for all primary school children. Lauren Pilat, 27 April 2020
  • ‘Absolutely insane’: Anti-vaxxers promote coronavirus conspiracies. Caitlin Fitzsimmons and Tom Rabe, 20 April 2020

Meanwhile, CSL/Seqirus receives product promotion and endorsement courtesy of The Sydney Morning Herald, i.e.

  • ‘There will be enough’: CSL to hit record flu vaccine production. (Emma Koehn, 19 April 2020.)

Did CSL/Seqirus pay for this flu vaccine product promotion in The Sydney Morning Herald?

Mr Costello, the Future Fund has invested over a billion dollars in companies which inter alia manufacture vaccine products – it appears you have a conflict of interest in also being Chairman of a corporate media group which discredits and marginalises citizens who question taxpayer-funded vaccination policy, reflexively labelling them as ‘anti-vaccination’. CSL shares valued at $674 million, plus Pfizer shares worth more than $265 million, $251 million of Johnson and Johnson shares, and over $134 million of shares in Merck were equity holdings of the Future Fund Board of Guardians as of 30 June 2019.

$310 million worth of Facebook shares are also listed in the Future Fund portfolio, and it is notable that Facebook is now hindering citizens’ free discussion of matters relevant to vaccine products and policy with its self-appointed ‘fact-checkers’.

Mr Costello, many groups around the world are now working on fast-tracking coronavirus vaccine products, being led by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and with taxpayer-funding from many governments, including at least $352 million from the Australian government. Please note more discerning citizens will be demanding transparency and accountability for the lucrative vaccine products being pressed upon the global community. Corporate media groups such as Nine Entertainment Co will also be held accountable for biased reporting which provides unquestioning promotion for vaccine products.

In Australia, News Corp also promotes biased coverage of vaccination matters, without disclosing its own conflict of interest in being a corporate partner of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, an organisation which is involved in vaccine product research and development. Rupert Murdoch’s mother Dame Elisabeth Murdoch was involved in the establishment of the original Murdoch Institute, and today Sarah Murdoch is a member of the Board and the Ambassador for the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. News Corp tabloids were behind the No Jab, No Play media campaign, which was obligingly adopted as policy by politicians across the political spectrum in Australia, and enacted as the coercive No Jab, No Pay law under Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister in January 2016. Members of the coercive vaccination lobby groups SAVN and Friends of Science in Medicine, e.g. John Cunningham and David Hawkes, were influential at the Senate Committee hearing re the No Jab, No Pay Bill in November 2015, which was attended by SAVN supporter Senator Richard Di Natale.

Mr Costello, biased corporate media groups in Australia have failed to provide critical analysis of taxpayer-funded vaccination policy, an area which is awash with conflicts of interest, a situation that has been allowed to fester under both Liberal/Coalition and Labor governments, including during your tenure as a Liberal Member of Parliament. Likewise the taxpayer-funded ABC and SBS have failed to provide critical analysis of vaccination policy, simply acting as unquestioning promoters of vaccine products via their news articles and broadcasts.

I have recently written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison requesting transparency for the various committees and organisations influencing vaccination policy, e.g. the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation; the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee; the National Centre for Immunisation Research & Surveillance; the TGA’s Advisory Committee on Vaccines; the TGA’s Australian Influenza Vaccine Committee; the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute; the Telethon Kids Institute; the Working Group and Oversight Committee for the Australian Academy of Science publication The Science of Immunisation: Questions and Answers; and any other group or organisation influential on Australian vaccination policy.

It’s also notable that members of the industry-funded Immunisation Coalition are very influential in the media and on policy, but seldom disclose that this organisation is funded by vaccine manufacturers Seqirus/CSL, Pfizer, Merck (MSD), GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi. The Immunisation Coalition is also associated with the Australian Medical Association, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and other medical organisations, and is also sponsored by Google and others. Dr Tony Bartone, the current President of the Australian Medical Association, is an Immunisation Coalition member, a fact which is seldom disclosed in media articles. Other members of the Immunisation Coalition who are frequently provided with a soapbox in the media include Professor Robert Booy, Associate Professor Margie Danchin, Dr Katie Attwell and current Chair Dr Rod Pearce, but they seldom disclose they are associated with a vaccine industry-funded organisation.

I have repeatedly brought many matters of concern about vaccination policy to the attention of journalists in Australia, including at The Sydney Morning Herald, and the taxpayer-funded ABC, but there appears to be a determination to ignore conflicts of interest in vaccination policy, and emerging problems with vaccine products.

Mr Costello, please be aware of your conflicts of interest via the Future Fund, and in your position as Chairman of Nine Entertainment Co, and ensure that its media interests fulfil the ideal of the fourth estate and provide balanced and considered analysis of matters relevant to national and international vaccination policy.

I request your response on this matter.

Sincerely
Elizabeth Hart
Independent citizen investigating conflicts of interest in vaccination policy and the over-use of vaccine products

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