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ANZAC Day usurped for Bressington’s anti-science balderdash

By Chrys Stevenson - posted Monday, 29 April 2013

I’m not one who thinks the Australian Christian Lobby’s Jim Wallace has a lot to teach Australia. But if he has one lasting legacy, it is the salutary lesson that it’s a really bad idea to exploit the memory of ANZACS on ANZAC day by co-opting them to push your own ideological barrow.

Who can forget the firestorm that followed Mr Wallace’s infamous ANZAC Day tweet of 2011:

Just hope that as we remember Servicemen and women today we remember the Australia they fought for - wasn't gay marriage and Islamic!”


Cleverly managing to insult service men and women, the GLBTIQ (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer) community and Muslims in just 140 characters, usurping ANZAC day to push his own particular prejudices was all the more shocking because Wallace is a former SAS commander who should have known better.

Never one to learn a salutary lesson, South Australian Independent MLC, Ann Bressington, repeated Wallace’s crime on Facebook last week. Bressington blithely used the bodies of our fallen soldiers as a mounting block to climb aboard her favourite hobby horse – slamming “BIG PHARMA AND BIG CORP”.

For those unfamiliar with Ms Bressington, The South Australian parliament’s Hansard for 20 March 2013 records a useful account of the honourable member’s predilection for poppycock. Speaking to the topic of “Science”, Labor MLC, the Honourable Kyam Maher says:

“… The Hon. Ann Bressington has been making quite a name for herself recently in her assaults on accepted science. From her Agenda 21 conspiracy, which seems to hold that scientists and policy makers across the world are secretly involved in an elaborate conspiracy to control all aspects of our lives, to supporting the chemtrail conspiracy, which claims aeroplanes deliberately drop chemicals on the population for some reason. Apparently, it happens right here in Adelaide. To quote the Hon. Ann Bressington, 'from two unmarked plain white small aircraft that often land at Parafield Airport after a morning spray'.

Many such conspiracy assaults on science can be mildly amusing and, apart from encouraging others to abandon reason and critical thinking, do not necessarily do much external harm. However, some anti-science irrationality actually causes harm—potentially, great harm.


 … some anti-scientific pursuits that can actually lead to deaths, such as the anti-vaccination movement. The Hon. Ann Bressington commented on Twitter as recently as last month that vaccines are about population reduction. Nothing could be further removed from reality. Vaccines save the life of an estimated three million people every year.

As with the fluoridation of water, over time individuals, groups and researchers dwelling at the fringes of science have criticised the efficacy of vaccinations, or they have falsified or overstated potential side effects of vaccinations.

… The risks posed by the anti-vaccination movement are real. Millions die unnecessarily. Children too young to have their full course of vaccinations and the herd immunity that prevents the uncontrolled spread of horrible disease are put at risk. On vaccination the science is clear; the debate is over. The benefits of vaccines are so immense that the morality of advocating against them without very good evidence needs to be questioned. When bad science is promoted such that it can cause great harm, we have an obligation to call it out. We cannot stand idly by and let such claims go unchecked.”

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About the Author

Chrys Stevenson is a writer and historian. A founding member of Atheist Nexus and the Sunshine Coast Atheists, Chrys is also a member of the Australian Skeptics. Chrys writes the atheist/sceptical blog Gladly the Cross-Eyed Bear and contributed a chapter on the history of atheism in Australia to the recently released The Australian Book of Atheism edited by Warren Bonett.

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