Andrew Dickens: No jab, no pay may be popular, but it's not actually right

Author
Andrew Dickens,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 3 September 2019, 4:06PM
Most politicians don't back the scheme - including Australia's Pauline Hanson. (Photo / Getty)

One of the best things I heard on the radio this morning was a text that said “Not everything that’s right is popular and not everything that’s popular is right”.  How true is that?

No Jab No Pay is popular amongst some people like Dr Lance O’Sullivan.  But is it right and does it work? It's certainly popular amongst many.

But National and Labour both said yesterday it’s not right.  It’s too intrusive.  David Seymour, the battler for personal freedom, thinks it’s right.

No Jab No Pay is an Australian policy which withholds Child Care Benefit, the Child Care Rebate and the Family Tax Benefit Part A from parents of children under 20 years of age who are not fully immunised. It also imposes fines on childcare centres that admit unvaccinated children.

No Jab No Pay was introduced in 2015, and expanded in 2018. By July 2016, 148,000 children who had not previously been fully immunised, were meeting the new requirements. Now they say that figure is up to 170 odd thousand after 350,000 warning letters went out.

So advocates say that it works. But really?  No-one knows whether the beneficiaries contacted by letter were already intending to immunise.  What we do know  is that when No Jab No Play was introduced at the state level in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria there was an immediate rise in vaccination rates but that rise was very small.

In other words in real terms it made little difference at all. And even if you believe it was an amazing spur to action it still only resulted in 50 per cent getting immunised which is way off the target of 95 per cent

Another interesting thing is that No Jab No Pay was not an initiative from health officials, doctors or politicians. In fact, it was in response to a grassroot campaign orchestrated by News Limited. In other words it was an idea promoted by Rupert Murdoch’s radio hosts and newspaper editorial writers.  There’s no science behind it.  Pauline Hanson voted against it.

It’s popular but it’s not actually right. Someone reckoned it was a good idea and they went for it.  It didn't really do any harm.  Except further stigmatising the beneficiaries.  

Remember this outbreak was not just caused by beneficiaries, or lazy parents, or anti vaxxers, or parents so busy working that they didn't take their kids to the clinic, or by people forgetting about the vaccinations, or by parents who didn't know about vaccinations.  Life isn’t that simple.

It was caused by all those things and education is still the best way to attack all those factors.

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