19 March 2014


Because it's not your money, Meryl.

I know, I know. I don't blog for ages and then KAPOW! Two posts about the Australian Vaccination Not-Really-Skeptics Network in a row!

In the latest installment of The Great AVN Unhinging of 2014, we find the NSW Minister for Fair Trading, Mr Stuart Ayres encouraging the public not to donate money to the organisation. On 18 March he tweeted:

"Aust Vaccination Skeptics Network no longer has charitable status
& I would encourage that you don't donate to this organisation."

This has not made the AVN happy. In an interview in the Guardian, President Greg Beattie stated:
“It’s not his place to say that. If he did make those statements then I question why he’s meddling in affairs that don’t involve his ministry.”

Likewise, Public Officer Meryl Dorey has been heard whining about how the government shouldn't be allowed to make such a recommendation, and they have no basis for doing so. Leaving aside the insinuation that only the AVN is allowed to have opinions about the AVN, let's look at the basis for Ayres' recommendation.

In all the time I've been following the AVN, I have not seen a single instance of them putting any money towards any cause that doesn't also benefit themselves. They've collected nearly 2 million dollars in donations during the last seven years, but there seems to be no evidence that any donations have gone towards a stated purpose. Yet their financial statements (which are summarised capably over at diluted thinking; and were described by a chartered accountant as "the worst set of financial statements I have ever seen") indicate some rather vague "expenses" such as $39,000.00 in one year on computers, even more on "web costs", plus all-purpose "other expenses" totaling $170,000.00 in 2010. There is no mention of any outgoing money to any charitable cause (thanks for the summary Dr Rachie).

So I will ask a simple question that has been asked of the AVN many, many times before:


Where did your members’ donations go?
What did you spend them on?
Your website design’s worth a buck ninety-nine
So where has the money gone?

Where’s the foundation for injured kids?
Where is the legal aid?
Were you never billed any time you fulfilled
All those promises that you made?

Surely there’s something you can share
That shows your philanthropy;
An invoice or docket that proves you don’t pocket
The money you get for free. 

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