A leading Australian anti-vaxxer and Senate candidate has a secret past as a key member of a bizarre quasi-religious cult whose leader was jailed for sex crimes against the children of cult members.
Dr Isaac Golden, a homeopath from Gisborne, Victoria, has confirmed he was heavily involved in the organisation but denied encouraging or being involved in any abuse. The cult was unnamed but dubbed 'The Seaside Sect" in early media reports. It was active in the 1970s and '80s after forming in Goulburn, NSW and then Sydney.
The cult’s leader Ian Lowe, now dead, was a former policeman from New Zealand who reinvented himself as Alistah Laishkochev, a paedophile with a harem of nine wives and 63 of his own children, and a belief system based on UFOs and Hawaiian-Old Testament spirituality, according to court documents and insider accounts.
Dr Golden is the national secretary and Victorian director of the Health Australia Party (HAP) which promotes natural medicine and distrusts mainstream medicine and medical research. The party states in election and publicity material it is not anti-vaccination but rather supports parents’ right to choose. However, it wanted to overturn the Turnbull government’s "no-jab, no-pay" policy, which denied welfare benefits to families with unvaccinated children.
The party gained the coveted first position on the NSW Senate ballot in 2016, from where it received 1.18 per cent of first preference votes and negligible results in three other states.
Dr Golden's PhD contended that homeopathic immunisation had a 90 per cent success rate on his own patients. He sells "nosodes" or homeopathic vaccines from his Gisborne clinic.
“Isaac Golden was involved right from the start,” said a former cult member who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “He didn’t have a particular role as such because Lowe was basically a dictator. But I would say he was definitely part of the unofficial hierarchy. He was pretty well up at the top as far as the men went.” There is no suggestion Dr Golden was involved in or encouraged any child sexual abuse perpetrated by Lowe.
Dr Golden was awarded a PhD by Swinburne University’s Graduate School of Integrative Medicine in 2004 and was attached to Federation University in Ballarat as an honorary research fellow until 2016. Two years after his Swinburne PhD the university discontinued complementary medicine programs.