The self-proclaimed “world’s number one anti-vaxxer” has been denied permission to visit Australia.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said on Thursday Kent Heckenlively would not be able to tour Australia later this year as part of an international campaign calling for a pause in childhood vaccinations.
“We’re not going to allow him to come here,” Mr Dutton told Sydney radio station 2GB.
“These people who are telling parents that their kids shouldn’t be vaccinated are dangerous. We have been very careful in having a look right through this particular case and it’s clear to me that it’s not in our national interest that he should come here.”
Mr Heckenlively, who lives in northern California, contributes to a website that claims autism is “an environmentally induced illness, that it is treatable, and that children can recover”.
He also has links to Andrew Wakefield, the disgraced former doctor whose debunked study was central to the anti-vaccination movement and has since gone on to make the film Vaxxed.
The film has been banned by several film festivals but has been shown in secret locations around Australia.
The Turnbull government has strong views on the effectiveness of childhood vaccinations. Photo: Karleen Minney
Immigration officials recently banned British campaigner Polly Tommeyand US campaigner Suzanne Humphries from entering the country for three years after the pair toured Australia with Vaxxed, which alleges there is a link between the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and autism.
The opposition had written to Mr Dutton requesting Mr Heckenlively’s application for a visa be denied.
“Dangerous misinformation peddled by anti-vaccination proponents should never take the place of proven, scientific advice, and we have a responsibility to make sure parents are getting the right messages,” the opposition’s health spokeswoman, Catherine King, said on Thursday.
“The fight against vaccination misinformation is continuous – earlier this month, we saw two anti-vaccination advocates tour the country and show a film that wrongly claims a link between the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and autism. While our immunisation program has historically been effective, there is growing evidence that anti-vaccination advocates and their political allies like Pauline Hanson and One Nation are now undermining our success – as shown by the doubling of measles cases between 2013 and 2014.”
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