Anti-vaccination leaders 'banned from Australia'

A screenshot of the controversial documentary Vaxxed.  Photo: Supplied
A screenshot of the controversial documentary Vaxxed. Photo: Supplied

The producer behind a controversial anti-vaccination film which has been touring Australia has been banned from returning to the country for three years, she claims.

British anti-vaccination campaigner, Polly Tommey, who believes the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine caused her son's autism, sparked outrage when she told audiences around Australia that 'doctors were murderers'.

Ms Tommey spearheaded a sold-out national roadshow of the documentary Vaxxed: From Cover-up to Catastrophe organised by the Australian Vaccinations-Skeptics Network.

The Castlemaine Local and International Film Festival committee faced a firestorm of abuse last year after its decision to included the film in its October 2016 event.

The committee withdrew the film from its program, and a subsequent screening at the Theatre Royal was cancelled.

Directed by Andrew Wakefield — a former doctor whose debunked study played a key role in the anti-vaccination movement — the film reignites false claims about a link between the mumps, measles and rubella vaccine and autism.

Hours after being banned from the country, Ms Tommey took to social media to condemn the federal government.

In a video, posted to Youtube on Tuesday, Ms Tommey claimed authorities seized her phone and copied her emails as she left Australian soil to continue the New Zealand leg of the film tour.

"Australia to me is literally the worst country I've visited," she said. "Not the people, the government."​

Ms Tommey said she was interrogated about her involvement in the documentary and banned for three years, although admitted she does not yet have any documents to confirm this.

She was banned from the country over alleged visa breaches, she said.

"They (Australian Border Force) told me I was banned from Australia for three years and that I would be getting a letter to confirm this," Ms Toomey said.

Medical experts and political leaders discredited the documentary as anti-vaccination propaganda and a "public health risk".

A number of secret screenings of the documentary and Q& A sessions were hosted in Australia, including one last week at Village's Crown casino cinemas in Southbank and another in Melbourne's eastern suburbs. 

Earlier this month, the Australian National University's science department was also condemned for unwittingly screening the film.

The Australian Vaccinations-Skeptics Network later uploaded videos of the event to social media showing some of those involved claiming the event was implicitly endorsed by the university, when it was not. 

Melbourne Orthopaedic surgeon Dr John Cunningham, who was awarded an Order of Australia medal for his research and promotion of immunisation, said it was one of the most dangerous films he had ever come across.

Dr Cunningham said the film had the potential to harm generations of children in Australia.  

"We are living in an era where people are dying needlessly," Dr Cunningham said.

"Babies will die if they are not vaccinated. These sort of lies and misinformation are a threat to public health and people who promote these ideas should be treated with disdain and shouldn't be given a stage in which to spread their lives."

Last week the nation's health ministers also rejected the anti-vaccination movement and reaffirmed the role that vaccinations play in protecting children from potentially life-threatening infections.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt condemned the film and said it was based on "unscientific conspiracy theories."

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection has been contacted for comment.

Ms Tommey has also been contacted for comment.