Parents who don’t immunise their children will stop receiving childcare benefits next year but one senator believes welfare for all parents should be stripped back.
The federal government’s no-jab-no-pay laws will remove childcare benefits, rebates and the Family Tax Benefit A end-of-year supplement from parents who don’t immunise their children.
The changes start on January 1, 2016, with exemptions for medical reasons, after legislation passed the Senate on Monday.
Liberal Democrats Senator David Leyonhjelm, speaking in support of the measures, said childless families should not have to subsidise the lifestyles of those who choose to have “little blighters”.
In fact, most welfare payments for parents should be abolished, he said.
“The government is not your parent or your spouse – get over it.”
Senator Leyonhjelm thanked and apologised to childless Australians.
They get next to no welfare, pay more tax and use less health services but are forced to subsidise the lifestyles of those who get pregnant and take time off work to care for children, as well as all the medical and education costs incurred in the years that follow.
And in the case of those who want to have children but can’t, forcing them to subsidise those with children is like making people in “wheelchairs pay for other people’s running shoes”, he said.
The no-jab-no-pay laws sailed through with the backing of Labor, the Greens and crossbench senators.
Labor said the Department of Human Services needed to conduct an intensive review of how the scheme was working, with particular focus on the seven per cent of parents who don’t vaccinate their children but are not registered conscientious objectors.
Independent Senator Nick Xenophon said adverse impacts of vaccination were rare but possible, and called for a Canadian-style scheme which would compensate those affected.
Greens Leader Richard Di Natale attempted to move an amendment delaying the changes to January 1, 2018, arguing it shouldn’t occur until data systems were fully operational in late 2017 to avoid people wrongfully losing payments.
But government frontbencher Mitch Fifield said any parent wishing to dispute a finding that they had not vaccinated their child would have a minimum of two weeks to provide documentary evidence before payments were affected.