Sunday, January 17, 2021

Senior Government figures refuse to condemn Craig Kelly for spreading unofficial coronavirus information online

Senior Government figures refuse to condemn Craig Kelly for spreading unofficial coronavirus information online

Senior government figures have resisted calls to condemn Liberal MP Craig Kelly for declaring compulsory mask wearing in schools would be “a crime” and a “form of child abuse”.

The federal backbencher has repeatedly shared unofficial medical advice on social media about COVID-19, and on Tuesday used his Facebook account to reference a study and wrote “forcing children to wear masks is causing massive physical and psychological harm”.

The post was shared more than 900 times and attracted more than 2,000 likes.

“I’m not aware of a single published study that shows a single benefit from forcing children to wear masks,” the post said.

“If we believe in following the science and the evidence, it would be a crime, a form of child abuse, to make it compulsory for any Australian child to have to wear a mask at school in the coming year.”

In his home state of NSW, children over the age of 12 must wear masks in certain settings, like on public transport, and official health advice both in Australia and internationally has found mask wearing to be an effective way of controlling the spread of COVID-19.

Both Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt refused to condemn their colleague for spreading unofficial health information online.

Mr Hunt instead urged the public to listen to the experts.

“We follow the advice of the medical advisers,” he said.

“And many people, as I’ve just said, will put out differing views. Many of those views have been shown to be wrong.

“I would urge everyone to listen carefully to the advice of the Australian medical regulators and Australian Government medical advisers.”

Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack said while he did not agree with his colleague’s comments on masks, they were a matter for Mr Kelly.

“I’m not in favour of censorship, I’m a former newspaper editor I don’t believe in censorship, you’ve also got to be sensible about what you put online — I always am.”

Labor criticises Government for not denouncing comments

Shadow Health Minister Chris Bowen said “facts are facts,” declaring Australia had successfully navigated the COVID-19 crisis by listening to the health experts.

He criticised senior Government figures for failing to denounce Mr Kelly’s comments.

“Craig Kelly is a menace and at every turn, Scott Morrison and now Michael McCormack, Acting Prime Minister, have failed to call him out,” he said.

“They’ve hidden behind weasel words of freedom of speech.”

Mr Kelly stood by his comments, denying that he was undermining the Government’s response to the pandemic.

“I believe the Australian public has a right to know about the peer-reviewed science,” he said.

“We deserve to have a debate on this.”

Health Minister Greg Hunt urged the public to listen to the experts.(ABC News: James Carmody)

During the pandemic Mr Kelly has repeatedly been criticised for spruiking information directly contradicting official health advice.

In October, Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly conceded it had been challenging to counter Mr Kelly’s push to use the controversial drug hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19.

He has also more recently declared Betadine — a topical antiseptic skin ointment — could reduce COVID-19 hospitalisations by 84 per cent.

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