Monthly Archives: May 2015

Australia’s chief anti-vaccination group in tatters.

What’s left of the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network, Inc.? Answer: not much, at least officially.

Following the claim that the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network’ (AVSN’s) Facebook page was handed over as a fan-operated page to a fake profile, “Ben Rush” (whom I have discussed previously), they have finally changed the name of the page to “Fans of the AV(S)N”. In addition, it is now mostly operated by the new admin Giselle Tonee, who is behind the recent (TW) rape analogies—presumably the reason they’ve gone the extra step in trying to distance the Facebook page from the organisation through the change of name. However, these also appeared on the AVSN’s Twitter account, which is still officially theirs:

AVSN Twitter page screenshot

This official AVSN Twitter account is still linked to (and posting) posts made to the Fans of the AV(S)N Facebook page, which includes the aforementioned rape analogies:

(photo now removed by the AVSN), and

In other news, the avn.org.au domain, and therefore the web site and email addresses, has recently been transferred to another organisation, Australian Vaccination News (AVN), details as follows. Note that it’s important that it be a non-profit organisation with the initialism AVN, otherwise they’d be ineligible to hold the avn.org.au domain under auDA rules.

Domain Name avn.org.au
Last Modified 25-Feb-2015 02:36:36 UTC
Status ok
Registrar Name NetRegistry
Registrant AUSTRALIAN VACCINATION NEWS – RISKS, INFORMATION, SCEPTICISM & EMPOWERMENT, INCORPORATED
Registrant ID OTHER IA03156
Eligibility Type Non-profit Organisation
Registrant Contact ID PAGR1412
Registrant Contact Name Greg Payne
Registrant Contact Email gpayne@octa4.net.au
Tech Contact ID PAGR1412
Tech Contact Name Greg Payne
Tech Contact Email gpayne@octa4.net.au
Name Server ns6343.hostgator.com
Name Server ns6344.hostgator.com
DNSSEC unsigned

The organisation is registered in the Northern Territory, so almost certainly (particularly given the small size of Darwin) the Greg Payne listed is the Greg Payne who won the Richard Morris Community Spirit Award, for the greater Darwin area for volunteering for the St John Ambulance service. I do hope for the sake of the public he was vaccinated. I assume he’s related to (former?) AVSN committee member Kaye Payne aka Kaye Marskell:

AVSN membership 2013-02-28

Despite this, the page still carries the name and logo of the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network, Inc.:

Taken 2015-05-15 09:30 AEST.
Taken 2015-05-15 09:30 AEST.

It also carries the current contact details of the AVSN:

AVSN contact details 2015-05-15

How do I know these belong to the AVSN and not the new web site operator the AVN? Because I called up that number and when the receptionist answered as from the “AVN” I asked what that stood for and was told quite clearly the “Australian Vaccination Skeptics”, leaving off the “Network”, although I was not corrected when I used the name in full, and it’s clearly not the Australian Vaccination News organisation. Note that the contact details have changed from the previous contact details, which were listed as recent as the 21st of April 2015 as:

AVSN contact details 2015-04-21

i.e. those of Meryl Dorey, who no longer seems to play any role in the AVSN at all. Indeed my good friend Ken McLeod has made enquiries:

Good morning Ms Dorey

Is there any truth to the rumour that you have severed all links to the AVSN?

regards

Ken McLeod

We have asked NSW Fair Trading and the current president as to who the current public officer is. This was Meryl’s position after her presidency ended, and it seems from the contact details that she is no longer Public Officer. Update: NSW Fair Trading have confirmed (18/05/2015) that Meryl Dorey is listed as the current Public Officer. So what does she actually do in that role, then?

The change in contact details follows the recent donation drive on the 13th of April 2015 to establish a fighting fund “to oppose government moves to force families to decide between vaccinating their children or putting food on the table.” So where is the money going? Have we seen any use of this money to oppose these Government moves? No. Or even to help the families? Again, the answer is no. So where is the money going? Well at Level 14 Lumley House, 309 Kent Street in Sydney, we find Serviced Offices International, who provide, amongst other services, phone answering and mail handling services. The cheapest plan that covers both (as per the AVSN’s listed contact details) is $195/month, and the receptionist confirmed that the AVSN were paying for it.

Based on the above information, I have written to the new domain and web site owner to clarify some points:

Dear Mr Payne
I’m writing a blog post on how the AVSN no longer officially holds a number of digital assets, and I noticed that your association, the Australian Vaccination News – Risks, Information, Scepticism & Empowerment, Inc., now holds the domain (and therefore the web site of) avn.org.au.
I am wondering what your relationship is with the AVSN—I assume you are a relative of (former?) AVSN committee member Kaye Payne / Marskell, please correct me if I’m wrong—and what arrangement you have with the AVSN to operate a web site that still carries their name, logo, and contact details?
Also, I’m wondering if you still volunteer for St John ambulance service and if so, do you meet all of their vaccination requirements?

Regards,

Dr Matthew Berryman