Former Greens leader speaks against anti-vaccinaton group

FORMER Greens leader and Senator Bob Brown has publicly distanced himself from the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) in an open letter.

Mr Brown had supported the group's right to be conscientious objectors to vaccination in the 1990s when he introduced legislative amendments protecting objectors of compulsory vaccination.

In the public letter released last Wednesday, Mr Brown wrote: "I do not support AVN's campaign against public vaccination.

"It is true that in the 1990s I endorsed the right of true conscientious objectors against compulsory vaccination.

"However, my view then, as now, was that vaccination is in the interests of public health and should be promoted."

Widely reported over the weekend, the move was welcome news for Ross Cornwill, a founding member of local group Northern Rivers Vaccination Group.*

"He was originally just defending the right of individuals to conscientiously object to vaccination - I don't think he thought for a moment that he was saying the AVN was giving the right message," Mr Cornwill said.

"But I'm very very pleased that he's now stood up to the plate and confirmed he's very pro-vaccination."

The move appears to be part of a concerted push by the Australian Greens to eliminate any suggestion they sympathise with the AVN.

Last month, Greens senator and health spokesman Richard Di Natale introduced a motion calling on the AVN to disband and cease its campaign against vaccines. The motion passed unanimously.

"The claims made by the AVN, and particularly by their founder, Ms Meryl Dorey, beggar belief," Dr Di Natale declared to the Senate.

"Despite being corrected numerous times by health professionals, scientists and so on, they continue to propagate outright myths about vaccines and their safety."

The Senator said examples included their use of the now debunked connection between vaccines and autism and an allegation that measles made children "more robust".

*A previous version of this story incorrectly described Ross Cornwill as a founding member of Stop the AVN. This error has been corrected in the story.