Australia is set to send a shot across the bow to parents who willingly chose not to vaccinate their children.
As reported by Yahoo Australia, its parliament passed federal legislation Monday that will allow the government to revoke up to $15,000 ($11,500 US) in welfare payments and childcare tax rebates for parents who do not vaccinate their children. The “no jab, no pay” rule, which will come into effect January 1st of next year, is the culmination of efforts previously announced earlier this April to aggressively stamp down the growing trend of anti-vaccination among Australian families.
"Parents who vaccinate their children should have confidence that they can take their children to child care without the fear that their children will be at risk of contracting a serious or potentially life-threatening illness because of the conscientious objections of others," Prime Minister Tony Abbott said at the time. "The government is extremely concerned at the risk this poses to other young children and the broader community."
According to the Australian Department of Health, it’s estimated that about 40,000 parents and guardians have currently asked for their children to be considered conscientious objectors, with the overall vaccination rate against once-rampant diseases like measles and rubella remaining around 90 percent. The new law will not punish parents who obtained a medical exemption.
The measure easily received support from Australia’s various political parties, though some representatives were certainly less restrained about their enthusiasm. In particular, Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonhjelm took the opportunity to advocate for a full-on stripping of welfare benefits for families, a position held by many of his party members.
"It's bad enough that people continue to bring wave upon wave of these little blighters into the world. The least they can do is immunise their bundles of dribble and sputum so they don't make the rest of us sick,” he said. At one point, he proceeded to launch into an ode to his childless constituents. "To the childless people of Australia, I want to say, on behalf of this Parliament, thank you for being childless,” he said. "You work for more years and become more productive than the rest of Australia. You pay thousands and thousands of dollars more tax than other Australians.”
Bluster aside, it’s believed the measure will save the government around $500 million over the next four years, though lawmakers have asked the Department of Human Services to keep track of the measure’s success, particularly in convincing the 7 percent of parents who don’t vaccinate their children but who aren’t registered as conscientious objectors.