This year’s award for “the proponent of the most preposterous piece of pseudoscientific or paranormal piffle” has been awarded to the United Australia party MP Craig Kelly.

The Australian Skeptics gave Kelly the “undesirable” Bent Spoon gong for spreading misinformation about Covid and vaccinations.

In January, Australia’s chief medical officer, Paul Kelly, rebuked Kelly for advocating for the use of anti-parasitic drug ivermectin against Covid, saying there was “no evidence” it worked. The Australian Medical Association vice-president, Dr Chris Moy, called on the prime minister, Scott Morrison, and other government leaders to counter misinformation from politicians such as Kelly.

In February, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners president, Dr Karen Price, condemned Kelly for promoting unproved Covid treatments including hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin.

Also in February, Kelly was banned from Facebook for a week after posting links that mentioned those treatments.

In September, the Therapeutic Goods Administration demanded that the MP stop distributing what it believed to be “seriously misleading” information after he texted “incomplete extracts” of adverse events after vaccinations. (Kelly has, in turn, declared the TGA’s statements to be “misleading”.)

The Australian Skeptics executive officer, Tim Mendham, said Kelly was the “hands down” winner, picked unanimously by Skeptics groups around Australia.

“Politician Craig Kelly has been spreading – or more likely shouting – misinformation about Covid and vaccinations for some time, offering dubious cures, conspiracy theories, and an interesting way with statistics,” Mendham said.

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Also at the 2021 Skepticon conference on Monday, the Guardian Australia medical editor Melissa Davey was named as the winner of the Barry Williams award for skeptical journalism. Williams was the president of the society until 1997, and died in 2018.

Davey was declared the winner for her work exposing false claims about ivermectin and its promotion.

She has revealed serious flaws in ivermectin research, and separately revealed the Australian professor Thomas Borody had been promoting an unapproved Covid treatment including ivermectin. Davey revealed Borody had filed a patent for a combination of drugs including ivermectin. He had not widely declared that he was seeking a patent, which would potentially allow him to manufacture, market and profit from the treatment.

In a statement to the Guardian sent via lawyers, Borody denied any wrongdoing and said: “My client has never hidden the fact that he applied for patents over his [Covid-19] treatment. That is a matter of public record for some time now.”

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Prof Kristine Macartney, the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance executive director, won the Fred Thornett award for the promotion of science and reason.

“Both winners, like apparently anyone who steps up and supports scientific evidence in the public arena of vaccination and Covid, have faced legal, online and personal threats from keyboard warriors,” Mendham said.

“We congratulate both winners for their bravery and persistence.”

Tory Shepherd was on the panel of judges for the Barry Williams award

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