Labor: families to lose tax benefit for failing to vaccinate children [Australia]

The Guardian
Accessed 24 August 2013

Labor: families to lose tax benefit for failing to vaccinate children
Kevin Rudd says ‘hardline’ policy is aimed at getting immunisation rates as close to 100% as possible
18 August 2013

Families who do not vaccinate their children will lose a tax supplement of $726 because other parents are worried about whether their children are safe at school from diseases such as whooping cough and measles, according to the prime minister, Kevin Rudd.

“That’s a hardline decision,” Rudd said. “I want to build an Australia where every mum and dad can feel safe and confident that when their kids go to school that practically every kid in that school is going to be immunised.”

Rudd released details of changes to its vaccination policy, which cuts out the Family Tax Benefit A annual supplement, currently worth $726 per child, for otherwise eligible parents who register as “conscientious objectors”.

“One of the great barbecue stoppers in the community across Australia is immunisation and [parents worry] whether their kids are perfectly safe at school – they have a concern and anxiety,” Rudd said.

The prime minister said although increased immunisation rates amongst five-year-olds had increased from 83% to 90% during Labor’s term in office, the aim was close to 100%.

Vaccinations cover childhood diseases such as polio, measles, whooping cough and rubella.

Although government policy requires all children to be vaccinated to enter school, parents who refused to vaccinate their children could previously claim exemptions for religious, medical or ideological reasons if they provided a statement of reasoning.

Under the policy change, “conscientious objectors” will no longer be eligible to claim the FTBA supplement if Labor is returned to office. Exemptions will still be allowed for religious and medical reasons.