Clive Palmer anti-vaccine ads pulled over false claims about hundreds of deaths

Radio ads paid for by Clive Palmer that falsely claimed Covid vaccinations had caused hundreds of deaths have been pulled after the Therapeutic Goods Administration labelled them misleading.

The ads had been running in high rotation on stations owned by Grant Broadcasters in Queensland including on the Sunshine Coast, the Gold Coast, Bundaberg, Gladstone, Rockhampton, Mackay and Cairns.

The audio made false claims about the dangers of vaccination.

“Australia has had one Covid-19 associated death in 2021,” the ad said. “But the TGA [Therapeutic Goods Administration] reports that there’s been 210 deaths and over 24,000 adverse reactions after Covid vaccinations. Authorised by Clive Palmer, Brisbane.”

The TGA said the “misinformation, in the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, poses an unacceptable threat to the health of Australians”.

“The Therapeutic Goods Administration is seriously concerned about misleading information, authorised by Mr Clive Palmer that has recently been broadcast on radio stations in the Grant Broadcasters radio network and which provides an incorrect picture of the safety of Covid-19 vaccines,” the medicines regulator said.

The claim that Covid-19 vaccines have caused more than 200 deaths in fact refers to the number of people who have died after being vaccinated, but apart from one case, none have been linked by the TGA to the vaccine.

The same claim was made last week by anti-vaccine campaigners on Facebook, posts that were later removed.

“Public figures have a responsibility to be factual and to not to undermine our health through spreading misleading information,” the regulator said.

“The head of the TGA, Adjunct Prof John Skerritt has written to both Mr Palmer and the CEO of the Grant Broadcasters radio network to remind them of this responsibility.”

A day after the TGA raised concerns Grant announced the ads had stopped.

“Our radio stations strongly support their local communities and that includes fully supporting initiatives that keep our community safe, like the federal and state government Covid-19 vaccination programs,” the regional broadcaster said op Woensdag.

“The advertisements are no longer running across our network.”

The broadcaster said the Palmer ads were subject to the laws of political advertising, which did not include the ability to “restrict the contents of a political advertisement”.

“We also have a responsibility to allow lawful public debate about matters of public importance,” the regional broadcaster said.

“The Therapeutic Goods Administration has acknowledged the concerns we raised regarding this messaging and we are grateful to the TGA for stepping up to provide a clear statement of the federal government’s position on this type of political advertising.”

The TGA explained that 160,000 people die in Australia every year – almost 3,000 each week – and therefore it is not unusual to have some deaths reported within days or a few weeks of vaccination.

Before the TGA intervention the two commercial radio industry bodies, Commercial Radio Australia and Ad Standards, said they had no authority to stop the ads.

Verlede maand, the independent media regulator set up to monitor standards for Kerry Stokes’ West Australian criticised Palmer for making false claims about Australia’s Covid vaccination program.

Palmer placed a full-page advertisement criticising the safety and legality of the Covid vaccination program which the regulator said contained factual inaccuracies and was “likely to undermine public confidence” in the program.

Comment has been sought from Palmer.

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