RACGP President calls out rogue MP over COVID misinformation

Matt Woodley

2/02/2021 4:54:07 PM

UPDATED: Dr Karen Price has condemned Federal MP Craig Kelly’s appearance on a podcast hosted by ‘disgraced former celebrity chef’ Pete Evans.

Craig Kelly
RACGP President Dr Karen Price said Craig Kelly’s consistent spreading of COVID misinformation is ‘unacceptable’. (Image: AAP)

Updated at 2.45 pm Wednesday 3 February to include additional information.

RACGP President Dr Karen Price has urged Australians to follow the advice of expert health professionals in the wake of serial COVID misinformation spreader Craig Kelly joining noted conspiracy theorist Pete Evans to discuss the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Kelly has drawn criticism throughout the pandemic for making repeated claims about coronavirus and its treatment that are not supported by evidence, while Mr Evans was banned from Facebook last year for ‘repeated violations’ of the site’s policies concerning COVID-19 misinformation.
The Federal Government has so far refused to publicly censure Mr Kelly, despite the former furniture salesman’s regular promotion of debunked COVID treatments such as hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin.

However, Prime Minister Scott Morrison reportedly spoke to Mr Kelly in the wake of his Dr Price’s comments and his podcast appearance, telling him to follow expert medical advice.

Mr Kelly initially told the ABC he will continue to push for Australia’s medical authorities to change their position on the use of hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin.

However, following a public confrontation with Labor frontbencher Tanya Plibersek on Wednesday morning, he released a statement following another discussion with the Prime Minister, agreeing to support the impending vaccine rollout.

‘The Prime Minister reinforced the importance of public confidence in the Government’s vaccine strategy,’ Mr Kelly said. ‘I agreed to support the Government’s vaccine rollout, which has been endorsed by the medical experts.
‘I have always sought to support the success of our nation’s public health response during the pandemic. I believe the spread of misinformation can damage the success of our public health response during the pandemic.’
While Mr Kelly himself has a history of spreading such misinformation regarding COVID-19, Dr Price said the latest news concerning Mr Kelly and Mr Evans is particularly disappointing.
‘It is unacceptable that Craig Kelly is persisting in disseminating misinformation concerning COVID-19, and to appear on this podcast with a disgraced former celebrity chef is very unhelpful,’ she said.
‘We are still in the middle of a pandemic that is leaving many people feeling understandably anxious and exhausted. Those like Pete Evans are preying on that anxiety to peddle false information and he should not be enabled by anyone, especially a federal Member of Parliament.
‘[Mr Kelly] must appreciate that Pete Evans is using these platforms to spread alarming misinformation, including content linked to the QAnon conspiracy theory and COVID-19 denialist claims.
‘As the President of an organisation representing thousands of GPs across Australia, I urge all public figures, particularly elected politicians, to act responsibly.’
Mr Evans has raised the ire of healthcare practitioners for years.
The former celebrity chef has long broadcasted unsubstantiated views on a number of medical issues, including concerns over vaccine safety; telling a person with osteoporosis to avoid dairy, as it can ‘remove the calcium from your bones’; saying the keto diet can assist people with autism, asthma and cancer; and describing fluoride as a ‘neurotoxin’ and a ‘major contributor for [sic] thyroid, brain and degenerative diseases’.
He was also fined $25,000 by the Therapeutic Goods Administration for marketing a $15,000 ‘light frequency machine’ featuring as having recipes that could supposedly treat ‘the Wuhan coronavirus’.
Perhaps most notably, Mr Evans was heavily criticised for comments he made in October 2020 about former RACGP President, the late Dr Harry Nespolon, suggesting Dr Nespolon did not know how to best treat his own pancreatic cancer.
But with GPs a crucial part of combatting medical misinformation, Dr Price has again implored patients to listen to the experts on COVID-19, as well as all other health issues.
‘My advice to all Australians is straightforward but more vital than ever: when it comes to the COVID-19 virus and the vaccine, please heed expert health advice, including from your GP,’ she said.
‘Avoid pseudo-scientific “cures” and baseless conspiracy theories on social media platforms and elsewhere.
‘I appreciate that this is an anxious time and not all people are convinced they will receive the COVID-19 vaccine, but please take the opportunity to talk to your doctor, we have your best interests at heart and can answer any questions you have – including on the vaccine.’
Log in below to join the conversation.

COVID-19 Craig Kelly Evans medical misinformation Pete

newsGP weekly poll What is your chief concern with role substitution?

newsGP weekly poll What is your chief concern with role substitution?



Login to comment

Dr Wasan Haider Maghazaji   3/02/2021 8:24:13 AM

Such information can cause a lot of confusion.I hope the public will not listen to such sources as they make our job very difficult.

Prof Max Kamien, AM   3/02/2021 11:06:23 AM

To the ? hon. Craig Kelly

Dr C   3/02/2021 11:07:09 AM

We live in the age of social media where people are increasingly getting their information from sources like Pete Evans. The reason why people listen to these people is because "influencers" are leveraging the power of social media to get their messages across. Why doesn't the RACGP fight fire with fire? Create regular engaging content on social media to get the right messages across. There should be a whole branch of the RACGP dedicated to this.

Dr Alan Shortt   3/02/2021 9:04:40 PM

The corridor confrontation between politicians Tanya Plibersek and Craig Kelly may (i humbly hope) prove to be something of a watershed in the evidence/culture/politics/ivermectin wars. Kelly invokes Prof Clancy not Rogue FB Influencer Paleo Pete, whilst Plibersek literally covers her ears and invokes the authority of PM Scott Morrison and his CMO. If I was Scomo or Albanese or a CMO or even the President of the RACGP I'd be calling for urgent briefings on the global evidence for the evidence for ivermectin from qualified advisors from all quarters. It would of course be terrible if an otherwise biassed non-medically qualified Right Wing MP turned out to have a better knowledge base ... (on this specific area no more) ... than other politicians, GPs, public health doctors