Dr David van Gend has been cleared of all misconduct charges. Picture: AAP/Josh Woning
Dr David van Gend has been cleared of all misconduct charges. Picture: AAP/Josh Woning

GP misconduct charges have eroded our freedom

IT'S good news that Toowoomba GP Dr David van Gend has been cleared of absurd professional misconduct charges that never should have been brought by the Medical Board of Australia.

But he has endured six stressful months of uncertainty while his good name was called into question.

He says he is relieved, "but it does stress those near to me and it wastes time and money …

"No matter how this process is cloaked in the respectability of protecting patients from harm, underneath it is the same … idea that citizens who belong to an approved identity group should be free to set government lawyers onto other citizens who 'offend' them."

Van Gend's offence was to retweet two tweets by Australian Conservatives Senate candidate Lyle Shelton in April.

One of the tweets promoted a book by Ryan Anderson, of the conservative US Heritage Foundation, which warns of the perils for children of radical gender theory. The other tweet was a link to a column of mine critical of gender fluidity classes in schools.

Both reflected unremarkably mainstream views.

Van Gend retweeted the two tweets without comment.

Misconduct charges were placed against Van Gend after he retweeted two tweets by Australian Conservatives Senate candidate Lyle Shelton in April. Picture: AAP/ Ric Frearson
Misconduct charges were placed against Van Gend after he retweeted two tweets by Australian Conservatives Senate candidate Lyle Shelton in April. Picture: AAP/ Ric Frearson

Someone complained to the Medical Board and he was hauled before its prosecutorial arm, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.

Six months later, he received a letter from the Board last week saying it planned "no further action", and he was not guilty of "discriminatory conduct".

The letter also stated ominously: "The Board noted with concern that you have referred to yourself as a 'family doctor' and that this can be read in conjunction with your opinions shared on social media …

"However on consideration of the information available, specifically being copies of 'retweeted comments' from other members of the public with no personal comments added, the Board does not consider a finding can be made that your conduct has fallen below the standard expected of a medical practitioner and presents no public risk".

This took six months to figure out?

The process is the punishment and, little by little, our freedom erodes.



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