- Anti-vax billboard 'fear speech, not free speech', Health Minister wants it taken down
- By Josh Bavas
- Contributed by: Dannii ( 3 articles in 2018 )
Health Minister Steven Miles said the billboard deceived parents
Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles says he is appalled by an anti-vaccination billboard on Brisbane's northside and his department is investigating whether it can be removed.
The large sign on Beams Road at Carseldine reads: "Unvaccinated or vaccinated, who is healthier?".
"This isn't free speech — it's fear speech," Mr Miles said.
"Promoting and publicising this kind of rubbish puts kids' lives at risk.
"Vaccination is safe and it's effective — it is the single biggest and best public health intervention in a century."
The group responsible, Australian Vaccination-risks Network Inc., said it paid for the sign and was "extremely proud" of its impact.
But Mr Miles said the billboard was deceiving parents.
"Obviously everyone is concerned for the health of their children but the healthiest thing any parent could do for their children is to get them vaccinated," he said.
"For people to be spreading this kind of fearmongering is bad for public health and ultimately bad for the safety of our kids."
A spokeswoman for Ad Standards — the advertising industry's self-governing body — said while it had received a number of objections, it had no jurisdiction over the subject matter.
"The complaints received about this advertisement will not be considered by the Ad Standards Community Panel as they do not raise an issue under the codes and initiatives administered by Ad Standards," she said.
"Ad Standards has assessed the billboard as advertising about a political issue.
"Advertising about political issues is outside the Ad Standards charter as, in our view, it is not possible to make decisions about whether a political advertisement breaches the code without the potential for being seen to be taking a political viewpoint.
"Complaints may also be directed to the local council or local Member of Parliament."
Several thousand Brisbane motorists pass the billboard every day.
The billboard itself is owned by APN Outdoor, which has previously run advertisements for Queensland Health.
A Queensland Health spokesman said the department had raised the issue with the company.
"We've received complaints direct from the public asking us to take action," the spokesman said.
"I'm concerned Queensland Health might be seen to be doing business with companies profiting from fear."
Mr Miles said inquiries to both APN and Ad Standards had not resulted in action to remove the billboard.
"Both of those inquiries haven't resulted in the billboard coming down as yet but I'd certainly call on APN, the billboard company, to do the right thing — to remove this billboard and replace it with one that tells people the truth," he said.
"They should replace it with one that tells people that the best way to keep your kids safe is by keeping them vaccinated."
Mr Miles said the department's lawyers were also looking at other options.
APN Outdoor has been approached for comment.