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Confidence through censorship: The (medical) Ministry of Truth

By Kara Thomas - posted Wednesday, 26 October 2022

On Wednesday, October 12, the Queensland Labor government – with support from the LNP opposition – passed a dystopian and dangerous bill.

The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 refocuses the guiding principles of medicine to prioritise public confidence over public health and safety. It allows bureaucrats to name and shame doctors, a move which the AMA described as 'incoherent zealotry'.

This bill, if passed by other jurisdictions in Australia, will essentially legislate national medical censorship as a means to ensure public confidence in government health services.


Adherence to the Good Medical Practice code of conduct means that advocating for patients (which is our primary concern) is being overridden by external demands to comply with public health messaging. Our code of conduct is predicated on The Hippocratic Oath, the Declaration of Geneva, and the International Code of Ethics which outlines our dedication to serving humanity: To first do no harm, making our patients our primary consideration.

Political-based medicine has now replaced evidence-based medicine.

History has proven that unquestioning compliance to government directives is dangerous. In 1947, the World Medical Association agreements were formed in the aftermath of the second world war due to the gross systematic human rights abuses which took place under enforced national laws. Tragically, the political currents in Australia appear to be heading towards bureaucratic medical compliance enforced through regulatory threats, soon to be legislative threats.

In 2015, the federal government passed The Australian Border Force Act 2015 which made doctors who advocated for their refugee patients liable to face up to two years imprisonment. Doctors for Refugees challenged this law in the High Court a year later. A major basis for their argument, according to their submission to the Medical Board's 2018 Code of Conduct review, was that the Code doctors had sworn to uphold and advocate for the rights of their patients could not be overridden by the vagaries of domestic laws.

The government eventually backed down on this law and had that problematic section repealed.

Interestingly, their submission was in response to the Medical Board attempting to insert into the medical code the concerning phrase 'doctors must comply with relevant laws'. The response to the word comply was fierce as the idea that the medical code of conduct could enforce compliance to political decree was antithetical to what doctors had sworn to uphold.


With the arrival of Covid came the bureaucratic decree through the March 9, 2021 joint statement by AHPRA and the National Boards that made undermining public confidence in the government's Covid public health messaging equivalent to professional misconduct. Questioning 'the message' is now subject to investigation and disciplinary action, including immediate suspension of registration.

Letters received by practitioners who have questioned the government response to Covid are chilling in their implication. After being suspended by National Boards under the immediate action clauses for allegedly being a threat to public health and safety, they are accused of the crime of non-compliance. They are deemed a threat because they failed to comply with public health orders, undermined the Board's position on the promotion of Covid vaccination, and undermined public confidence because their medical expert opinion contravened government health authorities.

In summary, health professionals are not permitted to question the 'secret health advice' without losing their registration to practise.

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This article was first published in The Spectator.

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About the Author

Kara Thomas is the secretary of the Australian Medical Professionals Society.

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All articles by Kara Thomas

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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