Queensland Liberal Senator Gerard Rennick has revealed he “hasn’t made up his mind” if he wants to take the COVID vaccine revealing he has never taken the flu jab because he believes he’s too young to get sick.
Defying the Prime Minister’s edict to stop pushing controversial cures for COVID-19, Senator Rennick has also revealed he supports Liberal MP Craig Kelly’s push for a scientific debate on alternative treatments including using a hair lice treatment called ivermectin.
But it’s his comments on the COVID-19 vaccine that are set to spark controversy after the PM urged MPs to stop undermining the public health advice on the rollout.
In an exclusive interview with news.com.au, Senator Rennick, 50, revealed he “hadn’t made his mind up” if he would take the vaccine.
“You do know the median age of COVID deaths is 86?’’ he said.
“So my view in the past, that is why I’ve never got the flu vaccine. I have always been of the view that if you’re fit and healthy you don’t need to take the flu vaccine. You get the flu, you build up immunity.”
However, Senator Rennick added: “I probably don’t go to the doctor enough.”
“I am not saying I won’t get it. I just haven’t made my mind up,’’ he said.
“It’s the same reason I never took the flu vaccine in the past. I never really worried about that. Having said that I’ve had doctors tell me they’ve had young people come in and die from the flu. Which was news to me.”
Senator Rennick has previously argued that only 909 Australians had died from COVID, less than the 4124 who died from influenza and pneumonia in 2019.
“Why is the Labor Party, the media [and] health bureaucrats imposing much harsher measures now given the severity of swine flu, rather than rely on the health system as they did back in 2009?” he said on Twitter.
Overnight, Liberal MP Craig Kelly has defied the Prime Minister’s Facebook edict to stop posting “outlandish” COVID cures and now a growing group of MPs are backing his right to speak out.
Just 48 hours after he released a statement agreeing to back the public health advice the Sydney MP is back demanding more research into a treatment for hair lice – ivermectin – and hydroxychloroquine.
“Listen to THE expert*,’’ Mr Kelly wrote in Facebook post overnight.
“Could someone please forward a copy to Tanya.”
This week, Labor frontbencher Tanya Plibersek slammed Mr Kelly as a “taxpayer-funded nong” who needs to shut up.
“The government is spending $24 million on a campaign telling people to get vaccinated, and we’ve got a taxpayer-funded nong running around telling people not to,” Ms Plibersek said.
She said her mum lived in Mr Kelly’s electorate and she didn’t want her exposed to people who refused to get vaccinated.
“I don’t want them going to the shops, getting in contact with people who’ve refused to be vaccinated because their local MP is spreading conspiracy theories on the internet. He needs to shut up.”
Senator Rennick said he understood why the PM needed to shut down the story after the blow up with Ms Plibersek but said that he shouldn’t shut down debate.
“It’s definitely been blown up. There was blood on the streets, so to speak,’’ he said.
“But at this stage it’s not clear how long the vaccines will be effective for. I definitely don’t support the Pete Evans stuff. But my view in relation to ivermectin is we should be doing research,’’ he said.
Senator Rennick said a private briefing MPs had secured with the Therapeutic Goods Administration chief Professor John Skerrit had reinforced his concerns.
“We had an update the other day from Professor Skerrit. He said they don’t know how long the vaccines will last,’’ he said.
Senator Rennick said as a former accountant, this was a “worry”. He added he would “rather take the AstraZeneca one than the Pfizer one” because of how they were created.
“We are spending a lot of money on vaccines that might only last a few months. Are we going to drop $6 billion next year? I am not against where Craig has been going. These vaccines range from 60 and 90 per cent effectiveness so they are not going to work for everyone. I think as politicians we’ve got to have the right to question bureaucrats.
“Look, fair enough, the PM had to deal with the issue that was Craig. Just because we want research on ivermectin doesn’t mean we don’t support the vaccine rollout. I understand why the PM had to shut the story down. I am not sure he’s ever said we shouldn’t roll out the vaccine.
“But my view is we should look at these other things as well.”
Senator Rennick’s comments follow months of criticism that the PM needed to take a stronger line with the MP for questioning public health measures.
Mr Kelly announced this week he is preparing to appear on a podcast with former TV chef and anti-vaxxer Pete Evans, who releases a daily stream of material questioning the vaccination strategy and masks on his social media channels.
But Mr Kelly strenuously denies he is an anti-vaxxer, despite peddling a range of alternative treatments on his popular Facebook page, including using a treatment for hair lice in children for COVID-19. He has also compared mask wearing in children with child abuse.
“Any suggestion that I am some sort of anti-vaxxer is nothing but slander, smear and slime,’’ Mr Kelly told news.com.au.
“If you can’t debate, if people are getting black-banned and cancelled that is a very sad day for democracy.
“It’s the opposition that are banging on about this. They are misrepresenting my position.”
His freedom to speak out was also backed by Nationals Senator Matt Canavan.
“Look, I hope Craig continues as an MP. He makes a unique contribution to our parliament,’’ he said.
Asked if he should stop posting quack COVID cures, Senator Canavan said he wasn’t convinced he was doing that.
“Like what? I had a flick through his Facebook page. He’s posting a lot of studies,’’ he said.
“I get really worried when we try and stifle reasonable contributions. I think it’s a really dangerous pathway.
“We are encouraging censorship and whipped up paranoia. I haven’t seen any evidence for Craig Kelly to be ‘silenced’ in inverted commas.
“I am always in favour of free speech.”
Asked why the PM had hauled Mr Kelly in, Senator Canavan replied: “You would have to ask the Prime Minister.”