‘No vaccine, no benefits’ law came into force in Australia today

Nurse with a syringe. CC0 Public Domain

Known as ‘no jab, no pay’, the new Australian rules mean that if a child isn’t up to date with their immunisation vaccines then their parents (or legal guardians) lose entitlement to¬† Family Tax Benefit Part A supplement and Child Care Benefit:

Aimed at increasing vaccination rates, the policy strips families of unvaccinated children of thousands of dollars a year in childcare rebates and the Family Tax Benefit A end-of-year supplement.

Experts have said the policy targets people registered as conscientious objectors, accounting for about 1.77 per cent of children, but will do little to capture the further 7 per cent of children whose vaccinations are not up to date for other reasons. There are exemptions for those who have a medical reason.

The question of how much power parents and guardians should have over the children in their care is often a difficult one for liberals: should the state leave well alone, trusting adults to know what is best for their own children, or should the state be the voice for children? The answer is a mix of both, and issues such as vaccination do have the easier aspect of also being about the safety of others. So, for example, banning for public playgrounds unvaccinated children – if it were practical – could be justified on the grounds of protecting other children.

Directly financially punish parents and guardians for how they bring up their children, even when the scientific evidence is so overwhelming, is however a different matter – so expect plenty of lively debate in the UK if this idea proves successful in Australia.

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