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Vanstone rejects smear campaign claim -

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Vanstone rejects smear campaign claim

Reporter: Michael Troy

TONY JONES: The Immigration Minister, Amanda Vanstone, has today denied funding a campaign to
discredit medical researchers critical of detention centres. On Lateline last night, we revealed
that psychiatrists who found that detainees were suffering mental harm believed their research was
being deliberately undermined. The debate has sparked renewed calls for more research. Michael Troy
reports.

MICHAEL TROY: The AMA believes there's an easy way for the government to assess the true mental
state of long-term detainees: by granting recognised researchers better access.

DR MARTIN NOTHLING (AMA REPRESENTATIVE): It well could be that they don't want to hear the answer.

MICHAEL TROY: Dr Martin Nothling is the federal AMA councillor representing psychiatry and says
that reports finding mental harm are not breaking news.

DR MARTIN NOTHLING: These results are hardly surprising. We know that people who are incarcerated
are going to have a higher level of psychological distress and psychiatric disorders.

MICHAEL TROY: The Federal Government has strictly controlled access to detainees, but that hasn't
stopped several psychiatrists publishing papers detailing the harm being done. Lateline revealed
last night that instead of commissioning its own research, the government paid for a report by a
Sydney psychiatrist openly critical of the published findings.

SENATOR AMANDA VANSTONE (MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION): Dr Samuell expressed some concern about the
robustness of some research that was available and on which people, I think, were relying.

MICHAEL TROY: Dr Doron Samuell claimed that the research done on detention centres was fatally
flawed and dishonest.

DORON SAMUELL (PSYCHIATRIST): I am very concerned about objectivity and bias in the research. In
this research, they offered explicit advantage to those participating in the research, and that
corrupted the research itself.

MICHAEL TROY: One of those criticised was Dr Louise Newman, the Director of the New South Wales
Institute of Psychiatry. Last night on Lateline, Dr Newman claimed that the government was trying
to undermine their findings and that Dr Samuell was not qualified to assess their work.

DR LOUISE NEWMAN (DIRECTOR, NSW INSTITUTE OF PSYCHIATRY): I see this as nothing more than a
campaign of harassment and personal vilification.

SENATOR AMANDA VANSTONE: If someone comes in - whether you know them or not, but as it happens, I
didn't know Dr Samuell - and puts a proposition that some robustness needs to be tested, it's a
very brave person that says, "Go away. I don't care whether the research is robust or not."

MICHAEL TROY: The AMA finds it an unusual way to assess published academic research.

DR MARTIN NOTHLING: If it's been published, it has been subjected to peer review.

MICHAEL TROY: Senator Vanstone says she will consider calling for more research to be done.