Clive Palmer's political party distributed anti-COVID-19 vaccine brochures made to look like official medical advice in the outback NSW town of Broken Hill, the town's mayor has told a parliamentary inquiry.
The United Australia Party targeted Broken Hill, distributing flyers with vaccine misinformation on several occasions, Mayor Darriea Turley told the NSW parliamentary hearing on Thursday.
Initially the flyers were in the UAP colours of yellow and black.
But the third or fourth round of flyers were on white paper with blue and red writing, Ms Turley said.
"It was just incredible," she told AAP.
"I worked in health for 41 years and I thought it was a medical flyer until I realised it was a (UAP flyer)."
Ms Turley told the hearing she was shocked.
"My concern is that we have a high Aboriginal population, and whether this influenced any vaccine hesitancy for that community," she said.
While Broken Hill has high vaccination levels, there are still people who are vaccine hesitant.
"I haven't got any data to say that this flyer influenced (hesitancy) but if you receive a flyer that looked like medical information, you would be thinking that ... these messages ... were recommended by health professionals," she said.
Ms Turley told the committee it was a shame the UAP had not been taken to task legally for distributing the misleading information.
Federal MP Craig Kelly, who quit the Liberal Party to join the UAP said Ms Turley's accusation is "nonsense".
"It's simply a tin-foil hat conspiracy," he told AAP.
"The colours red, white and blue are the primary colours of a printer's ink."
He denied the flyers were anti-vaccine or contained misinformation, describing their contents as "alternate information" and "alternate opinions".
Mr Kelly also denied targeting Broken Hill, saying the information was sent throughout Australia.
The parliamentary inquiry is investigating health outcomes and access to health services in rural and regional NSW.
On Thursday it heard that Indigenous people who contracted COVID-19 during a significant outbreak in the small town of Wilcannia this year did not receive enough mental health support.
Community spokeswoman Aunty Monica Kerwin told the committee that NSW Health rang positive cases to find out about their symptoms but overlooked the mental health.
People who were diagnosed were asking themselves "Is this it, is this the day I'm going to die", she said.
"They were scared, they were angry and they were alarmed and nobody really cared."
Ms Kerwin's son took his own life recently as did another young woman in the small community.
Wilcannia Aboriginal Land Council chairman Michael Kennedy said the average life expectancy in Wilcannia is 37 for a man and 42 for a woman.
"I'm 39 years of age now and every day I wake up, I thank God - our God - that I'm still alive," Mr Kennedy said.
Ms Kerwin and Mr Kennedy also called for a dialysis machine to be installed in Wilcannia.
Kidney patients, including Ms Kerwin's husband, must travel 400 kilometres to receive dialysis several times a week, or else be forced to move off country.
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Australian Associated Press
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