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Prime Minister Scott Morrison has again urged Australians to ignore the “dangerous” and “unwise” anti-vaccination views of Nationals MP George Christensen but says the Queenslander is “allowed to speak his mind”.

In an online video interview for his own program, Mr Christensen declared “do not vaccinate your children. I probably could not say that clear enough”.

The backbench MP also claimed the government’s program to vaccinate children aged five and above was “nuts”.

Queensland MP George Christensen is the latest to abstain from voting on government legislation in the Lower House.
Queensland MP George Christensen’s anti-vaccination views have been called out by Prime Minister Scott Morrison. (Alex Ellinghausen)

Asked this morning why Mr Christensen had been allowed to persist with anti-vaccination comments as a member of the government, Mr Morrison said the MP was free to express his views – but that Australians shouldn’t listen. 

“I don’t think I could have been any clearer yesterday – don’t listen to him,” Mr Morrison said.  

“He is not a doctor, he can’t tell you what to do with vaccines. 

“Australia is a free country, you can’t go around locking people up for what they say as Australians.

“I’m sure the media wouldn’t be suggesting we do that.  

“He is allowed to speak his mind but Australians should be listening to it.” 

Mr Morrison said it was “more important” to emphasise that Mr Christensen’s anti-vaccination views had no influence on the government than it was to kick him out of the party room. 

“I’m not seeking to amplify them,” he said. 

“I think they’re unwise views, I think they’re dangerous views, I don’t think parents should be listening to them. 

“Go to the credible sources of information on vaccines, and George Christensen is not one of them.” 

Nationals MP George Christensen urged parents not to vaccinate their children against COVID-19. (Alex Ellinghausen)

Mr Morrison also condemned the remarks in a statement issued late yesterday.

“I strongly disagree with the message sent out by Mr Christensen regarding children’s vaccinations,” he said.

“It is contrary to the official professional medical advice provided to the Government.”

“I urge parents to disregard his dangerous messages in relation to vaccines.”

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce told 9news.com.au: “I disagree with George and I imagine many others do as well.”

Other Nationals MPs have been far more critical.

“George Christensen’s comments are irresponsible and inappropriate,” Deputy Nationals Leader David Littleproud tweeted.

“The only advice parents should take on vaccinating their children is from a doctor.”

Former minister for defence personnel Darren Chester urged Australians to “listen to the experts and ignore George Christensen”.

“If you have any concerns about COVID vaccines for you or your family members, ask your GP,” he said, on social media.

“Mr Christensen’s comments are reckless, irresponsible and ill-informed.”

Yesterday, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said of Mr Christensen’s remarks: “I would flatly plainly disagree with anyone who said that.”

Not referring to Mr Christensen specifically, Mr Hunt said: “Frankly the anti-vaxxers aren’t only losing the debate, they’ve lost the debate.

“We’re at a 95 per cent national 16-plus vaccination rate, that’s being the conception of almost any commentator or observer.”

Earlier Health Minister Greg Hunt said of Mr Christensen's remarks, "I would flatly plainly disagree with anyone who said that".
Health Minister Greg Hunt said of Mr Christensen’s remarks, “I would flatly plainly disagree with anyone who said that”. (9News)

Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly said while he “won’t comment on other people’s comments”, “if people could listen to the Chief Medical Officer and my colleagues in the states we’re all of agreement the ATAGI group, which is I would say among the best experts on immunisation in the world, certainly in Australia, we are of one voice it is very important for children now down to the age of five to be vaccinated.”

The Federal Government says almost 400,000 children in the five to 11 age group have received their first dose of the vaccine since the program was launched on January 10.

Professor Kelly was at pains to point out the safety of COVID-19 vaccinations for children.

“We don’t have any medicines or any vaccines in Australia that have not gone through the full process of the TGA,” Professor Kelly said.

He added the TGA had looked at “real-world experience of rollouts in other places. We had the advantage of watching multiple millions of children of that age group, five to 11, get their first and their second doses in the US they have not seen a single issue in terms of severe safety signals.”

Sharing a post from Mr Christensen, Shadow Health Minister Mark Butler said: “This is what Government MPs are putting out on Australia’s deadliest day of the pandemic. Scott Morrison needs to put an end to this and take responsibility for the actions of his backbenchers.”

In his rebuke of Mr Christensen yesterday, Mr Morrison said “vaccinations are our primary weapon against this virus”.

“More than 90 per cent of Australians aged over 16 are fully vaccinated. If you are not vaccinated against the virus you are more likely to experience severe illness and die. Getting vaccinated saves lives,” he said.

Coles Eastgardens

How Australia faced the emergence of the Omicron variant

Mr Christensen has announced he’s leaving parliament at the next election.

Source: 9News

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