27 August 2020

This morning in the Parliament the Government stopped discussion of a motion affirming public office holders role in supporting the independence and expertise of the TGA and countering misinformation and conspiracy theories.

This follows the Member for Hughes, Craig Kelly, using Parliament to spout discredited theories about hydroxychloroquine, undermining confidence in the TGA.

Not only did the Government refuse to back Labors non-partisan motion supporting the science and the independence of the TGA, but they used their numbers to gag the discussion.

This could have been a good opportunity for the Parliament to come together as one and reaffirm the primacy of science and evidence. Instead, staggeringly, the Government chose to allow Craig Kelly continue to spread dangerous disinformation.

On 25 August 2020, Craig Kelly gave a speech in the Federation Chamber supporting the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19.

In his speech, the Member said that media bias, groupthink and the complete abandonment of reason were driving a war on hydroxychloroquine and the big hand of government interfer[ing] in a doctor-patient relationship, and cited a number of medical commentators under investigation or rebuked by experts and peak bodies.

But this morning the Government gagged discussion on this issue, stopping Members from all persuasions speaking to the critically important motion dispelling misinformation. The Government gagged not only the Shadow Minister for Health, but also Dr Mike Freelander, one of the medicos in the Parliament who could provide facts and reassurance.

Staggeringly, every Government member present, including the Health Minister, voted against a motion defending the independence and importance of the TGA.

In Australia, potential therapies are assessed for safety and efficacy by the independent Therapeutic Goods Administration, and the TGA strongly discourages the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 or prevent COVID-19.

The National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce, comprised of 29 peak health bodies, has also recommended that hydroxychloroquine is potentially harmful and no more effective than standard care.

Scott Morrison and Greg Hunt need to urgently back the science, the independent TGA, and condemn the words and actions of the Member for Hughes.

This mismanagement of independent and expert medical advice is dangerous and a threat to Australians.