No Jab No Pay
Subjects: No Jab, No Pay
Thousands more parents across Australia will be denied Centrelink payments if they refuse to immunise their children. Minister for Social Services Christian Porter joins us now from Canberra. Minister, good morning to you. Thank you for your time.
No Jab, No Pay is getting even tougher. Can you talk us through these changes?
As a Government we are endeavouring to move away from a welfare system that used to push taxpayers’ money out the door without expecting anywhere near enough from people who received it and No Jab, No Pay is one of those programs where we place expectations on people who receive welfare payments and it has been very, very successful to date, but we are making it even stronger.
The no pay part of the programme used to happen at the very end of the year, so it was a long time after the fact that you might not have had your child vaccinated. What we’re moving to is a fortnightly system, so if you are failing to do the right thing and have your child vaccinated, you could lose $28 per fortnight – per child.
And the theory behind that is that because the effect is even more immediate than under the first version of No Jab, No Pay that we are going to have even better results in terms of moving up towards this critical population immunisation rate of 95 per cent.
By doing this fortnightly you are also taking in families who earn over $80,000 a year now. So how many more families are likely to be impacted by this?
Actually, those families were previously inside No Jab, No Pay, but there was a change that ended supplements for families over $80,000. So one of the effects on this will mean that it will be consistent with the old scheme. So those families were previously in, they will be in again, but the fact is that families who aren’t doing the right thing and aren’t having their child immunised are going to face the consequence of lost money on a fortunately basis.
So far this has resulted in 210,000 families having their children immunised, very significant percentage increases up towards this 95 per cent. And before this policy we were seeing immunisation rates in child age groups drop below 90 per cent, and that was causing a resurgence of diseases like polio and whopping cough that we had essentially eradicated but faced a resurgence of because immunisation rates were so low. There were a whole lot of opponents to this policy when it was first suggested, people who said it couldn’t work, but it has worked very, very well and we think this new, even more improved way of doing it is going to see it work even better.
Do you think you’ll get to that magic 95 per cent mark that you’re trying to achieve?
I do. So we are up around 93.7 per cent, 90.8 per cent, 93.5 per cent for the critical age groups, and one fascinating result and very positive result is that for Indigenous kids at the five-year-old mark, have actually gone over that 95 per cent, and now rates of immunisation for five-year-old Indigenous kids are higher than they are for five-year-old non-Indigenous kids, which is an amazing result – great for the community. This just goes to show that if you do attach reasonable conditions to welfare payments, which we are doing with drug testing and we are about to do with rental payments, this can have a really positive effect on people’s behaviour.
Minister Christian Porter, we appreciate your time this morning. Thank you for joining us.