Potential election kingmaker Clive Palmer is undecided on the merits of immunisation after one of his candidates said parents should question vaccine advice given by doctors.
Alexander Stewart, the United Australia Party candidate in the NSW seat of Cowper, has been labelled an anti-vaxxer over a deleted Facebook post in which he said there was no evidence the benefit of vaccines outweighed the risk to his children.
Mr Stewart said he was not against vaccination but was "a vaccination questioner" who was "appalled at the incomplete scientific analysis of the risk versus the benefits" of immunisation.
"What I am saying is that we need to ask questions," Mr Stewart said on Wednesday. "Mere effectiveness is not good enough in the public arena ... we need to consider the side effects.
"If you want me to remove the weeds from my garden, one option is to use a nuclear weapon. Yeah it would remove the weeds from the garden, but it would have a lot of consequences."
When asked for his view on these remarks, Mr Palmer - through spokesman Andrew Crook - said the party was undecided on the merits of immunisation.
"The United Australia Party hasn't finalised a position on this at this stage," Mr Crook said. Asked to clarify whether that related to the broad topic of vaccinations, he said: "Correct."
Mr Stewart said parents should follow the advice of doctors but conceded his own children were not vaccinated.
As evidence of the side effects of immunisation, he pointed to a court ruling in Italy in 2012 that found a vaccine had caused a child's autism.
However, that ruling - based on a now-discredited study by a gastroenterologist who has been struck off the United Kingdom's medical register - was overturned on appeal in 2015.
Mr Stewart also questioned the efficacy of measles vaccines. "The thing was 95 to 99 per cent already solved before the vaccination was even invented," he said.
"So the fact that we don't have those diseases now is not proof of the effectiveness of the vaccination.
"In the UK there is a society of vaccine-damaged children ... that's just a fact. I'm not saying don't have vaccination, I'm saying let us evaluate scientifically whether the benefits outweigh the non-zero risk that a vaccine will kill or damage my child."
In the UK there is a society of vaccine-damaged childrenUnited Australia Party candidate Alexander Stewart
Mr Stewart, 69, claimed he cured his children's whooping cough and measles "in a day or two using large doses of vitamin C".
In response, president of the Australian Medical Association, Tony Bartone, said: "There is absolutely no evidence, no skerrick of reliable, reproducible scientific evidence to lend any weight or credibility to those claims."
Dr Bartone added: "We would hope that any candidates ... do not see themselves as agents for anti-vaccination or a lukewarm response when it comes to the robustness of Australia's world standard immunisation policy."
NSW is experiencing its worst measles outbreak in five years, with 33 cases recorded in the first three months of 2019.
An Ipsos poll conducted for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, found the UAP's primary vote was 3 per cent nationally, behind One Nation on 5 per cent.
However, preferences from the UAP could decide the outcome of some very close contests.
- SMH/The Age