Liberal MP Craig Kelly has fallen into line following a reprimand from Prime Minister Scott Morrison over his spreading of information about unproven coronavirus treatments.
Mr Morrison hauled Mr Kelly in for a dressing down after Labor’s Tanya Plibersek had earlier confronted him about his airing of misinformation in a tense standoff inside Parliament.
In their meeting, Mr Morrison made it clear he cannot support Mr Kelly’s actions and asked him to refrain from pushing views contrary to the accepted medical advice.
It’s understood Mr Kelly has agreed to restrain his social media and “support” the government’s coronavirus vaccine rollout.
“This morning I had a meeting with the Prime Minister,” Mr Kelly said in a statement.
“The Prime Minister reinforced the importance of ensuring public confidence in the Government’s vaccine strategy. I agreed to support the Government’s vaccine rollout which has been endorsed by medical experts.”
Mr Kelly said he believed he had always sought to support the success of the nation’s public health response during the pandemic.
“I believe that the spread of misinformation can damage the success of our public health response during the pandemic,” he said.
Ms Plibersek had earlier told Mr Kelly she was concerned about the “crazy conspiracy theories” he was spreading during their clash.
“My Mum lives in your electorate and I don’t want her exposed to people who are not going to be vaccinated because of these crazy conspiracy theories you are spreading,” Ms Plibersek said.
Mr Kelly replied: “You are the one doing that because you are the one spreading misinformation.”
Mr Morrison informed Mr Kelly his actions were negatively impacting the government’s vaccine strategy and that he should focus on constituents in his Sydney seat of Hughes.
Mr Kelly earlier denied spreading misleading information about unproven coronavirus treatments – saying he has merely posted health advice backed by “senior qualified medical experts”.
He said he is not an anti-vaxxer and would consult with his family doctor about making a decision on taking the coronavirus vaccine.
Public medical experts have warned against the spread of misinformation by government MPs, saying it would undermine trust in official health information and could hamper efforts to smother the virus.
They’ve also called it irresponsible that the government have previously resisted speaking out against Mr Kelly’s actions.
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners has said Mr Kelly’s persistent dissemination of misinformation is “unacceptable”.
“It is unacceptable that Craig Kelly is persisting in disseminating misinformation concerning COVID-19,” RACGP President Dr Karen Price said.