Malcolm Turnbull has slammed Pauline Hanson’s views on vaccination after the One Nation leader accused the government of “blackmailing” parents with its no-jab-no-pay policy.
He also strongly rejected Hanson’s admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin, which came with her questioning Putin’s culpability over the downing of Flight MH17.
Since the election Turnbull has treated Hanson, who controls four Senate votes, with care, but he raised the vaccination issue himself during a news conference in Queensland.
Hanson told the ABC she advised people to “go out and do their own research” on the question of vaccination, saying no-one was going to care more about the child than the parents. “Make an informed decision,” she said, suggesting parents have their children tested first. If the child didn’t have a reaction, “then you can have the vaccination”.
“I hear from so many parents, where are their rights?” she said.
She described the withholding of family and childcare assistance from people who refuse to vaccinate their children as “blackmailing”. “Don’t do that to people. That’s a dictatorship.”
Turnbull, who is said to feel particularly strongly on the subject, warned that if parents choose not to have their children vaccinated they were putting the health of their own and every other person’s children at risk.
“The health of our children and the health of the nation depends on vaccination and that has to be as close to 100% as possible,” he said. The government’s no-jab-no-pay requirement had resulted in nearly 200,000 more children getting vaccinated, he added.
With shades of Donald Trump, Hanson described Putin as “very patriotic towards his country, the people love him, he is doing so well for the country. So many Australians here want that leadership here in Australia. They want a leader here to stand up for the people and fight for this nation.”
As for Russia’s role in the MH17 downing – the missile was transported into Ukraine from Russia – she asked: “Did he [Putin] push the button?” Turnbull said that Putin’s Russia “is not and should not be an object of admiration in any respect”.
“Vladimir Putin’s Russia is subject to international sanctions to which Australia is a party because of his conduct in shooting down the MH17 airliner in which 38 Australians were killed. Let’s not forget that. That was a shocking international crime.
"He’s also invaded his neighbour, Ukraine – seized its territory, breaching international law.”
In the current Western Australian election, the Liberals have done a preference deal with One Nation, which could help it get the balance of power in the upper house.
Hanson said she believed One Nation would win Legislative Council seats, especially given the preference deal, which puts it ahead of the Nationals on Liberal how-to-vote tickets for the upper house. The quid pro quo is that in the lower house One Nation puts Labor behind the Liberals.