2UE Tim Webster
TIM WEBSTER: To tell us more here is the Minister for Social Services, Scott Morrison on the line. G’day.
MINISTER MORRISON: G’day Tim.
WEBSTER: Thanks for joining us on a Sunday. It smacks a bit of you getting sick and tired of people coming up with this objection?
MINISTER MORRISON: The objections have risen just shy of 40,000 families and that is up from about 15,000 some years ago. It rose another 15,000 since 2009. When you are putting kids in childcare and the government through the taxpayers are supporting that well you can make your own decision but that doesn’t mean you get to claim on taxpayers funds, if you want to make that decision and that is what we have made today the conscientious objection exemption will be gone. What will still remain is a medical exemption and a very narrow religious exemption. The religious exemption, sorry to take time to explain it, but the actual religion of which you are a formal part of has to register its objection with government. So it is a very narrow field of objection for religious objection. It would only apply to a very small number of people.
WEBSTER: Yes, and I understand you don’t have any of those registered with you now anyway.
MINISTER MORRISON: There is one but I am not about to advertise it for fear of it having a lot of new followers on a fairly unfair basis. So if people want to know about that then they should talk about their own religion and they will be able to tell them what the arrangements are.
WEBSTER: Ok, now there is a figure of $15,000 screaming at us from the newspapers but I am sure that is going to depend on what benefits you are on and what benefits you are entitled to?
MINISTER MORRISON: It does, it depends whether you are on the childcare benefit and the rebate, it depends also whether you are on Family Tax Benefit A only or B. For the family tax benefit I should stress it just relates to the end of year supplement. So not the regular fortnightly payment you might be getting on Family Tax Benefit A and that was what it was applied to previously but there was the conscientious objection exemption that applied to that. For childcare benefits both what it is currently now and what it will be under the new scheme that we will be announcing before the budget then those exemptions that used to get won’t apply also. So this is largely targeting those who are putting their kids with other kids.
WEBSTER: Yes, of course. 2
MINISTER MORRISON: If take your own decision and do that well we would advise you against it and all the health advisers would advise against it as well. But you don’t get to risk other people’s kids either on the taxpayer’s dollar.
WEBSTER: Minister, it is so unambiguous from the medical profession isn’t it and they are just coming out and saying it regularly. But you still get, I get them here callers on talkback radio saying – coming up with something they have discovered on the internet that there is going to be side effects to vaccinations and you just get sick of hearing it.
MINISTER MORRISON: Well Doctor Google might have his view but the government certainly has its and the best health advice in the country and around the world says it. Personally it is a decision most families take, it is certainly a decision we took in our family and honestly it was one made unconsciously. It was the obvious thing to do and we want the best for our kids but not just our kids but the kids they play with. We have got whooping cough which is going around at the moment and that just reminds us of why this is important.
WEBSTER: Look you know – my listeners and I go back this far and a great man who sat at this microphone called John Laws suffered from it, a disease called Polio and it would have been 1964 or 5 I think. They came around to schools with a vaccine called Sabin, a little pink vaccine that you had on a spoon.
MINISTER MORRISON: I remember it; I remember taking it when I was a kid.
WEBSTER: Well you don’t want any of these diseases do you coming back because people refuse to vaccinate their kids.
MINISTER MORRISON: That’s right. It is common sense and I am pleased that common sense has caught up with government policy. It is overdue and I am pleased to have been part of that decision with the Prime Minister to put this in place. It is just a good idea and I am very grateful to the tremendous support we have had since it has been clear now for some time that the government was heading in this direction.
WEBSTER: Well it might convince people to go back the other way. Now I am almost loathed to use the word but how difficult to police is it going to be?
MINISTER MORRISON: Well you have to provide the evidence of your vaccination. It is pretty straight forward; the burden of proof is there on the user of the benefit. You have got to vaccinate your child or it is as we said, as the Prime Minister and I said today no jab, no pay.
WEBSTER: It is a pretty good line actually. You have got bipartisan support, I noticed Bill Shorten is on side, the Greens say they might be but they tend to vacillate anyway. So you would like to think everyone would get on board because you know it is a bit of an overused expression these days but it is a bit of a no-brainer isn’t it?
MINISTER MORRISON: It is and we appreciate the bipartisan support as the Prime Minister said this morning at the press conference, you count your chickens when they have hatched because this would still need that support moving through the Parliament but the opposition has said that and we welcome that. I notice Bill is out there today sort of saying that the government has responded to him; honestly Bill it is not about you, it is about the kids and we have made that decision. It has been in train for some time. The Productivity Commission had recommended it as part of their review of early childhood learning. It is not always about Bill so I think we can just put that to one side. This is just about good common sense policy and if the Labor party is supporting it, which he says they are, well good. 3
WEBSTER: Ok and coming into effect when?
MINISTER MORRISON: 1st of January next year. The reason for that is the Family Tax Benefit supplement is paid at the end of the financial year so it will apply to next year’s payments but also childcare begins in January of each year. So to time it up with the start of the school year and to make those adjustments to the system that is necessary. If it was possible to introduce it earlier then obviously we would.
WEBSTER: And pretty simple unambiguous if you don’t state that your kids have been vaccinated no money.
MINISTER MORRISON: That is right and I hope exactly as you said Tim, I hope that the message people take out of this is to go and do it. That is what we want. We were asked at the press conference today well how much this will save, I hope it saves nothing…
WEBSTER: Yeah, it is not about that.
MINISTER MORRISON: …because the kids will be vaccinated and that means a healthier community, healthier kids and that is what we want.
WEBSTER: Well mate as I say I just don’t know how many medicos you have to get on the air to tell people that it is an absolutely essential thing to do, it is like a full stop end of story thing with our medicos and yet people can still or could still have this ridiculous conscientious objection but you have taken that away.