Starting at the beginning of 2016, the Australian government will deny childcare and family tax payments to parents who refuse to get their children vaccinated against common childhood diseases.
According to the Canberra Times, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Sunday that a “conscientious objector” loophole would be closed, costing parents who refuse to vaccinate up to $15,000 per child.
“Parents who vaccinate their children should have confidence that they can take their children to childcare 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,” Abbott stated.
Although 97 percent of Australian children have received vaccinations against illnesses such as measles and rubella, the parents of approximately 40,000 children have used the conscientious objector option, with the numbers increasing due to disinformation campaigns by so-called “anti-vaxxers.”
“The choice made by families not to immunize their children is not supported by public policy or medical research nor should such action be supported by taxpayers in the form of child care payments,” Abbott said, noting that parents who have valid medical reasons for not vaccinating will continue to receive government payments.
The change in the law and tax codes must still be approved by Parliament, however opposition leader Bill Shorten said he will back the proposal.
“Labor supports promoting the safety of our children,” Shorten said. “We believe fundamentally in the science of vaccination.”