PIG-HEADED parents who refuse to vaccinate their children will have their family benefits docked every fortnight, as the Turnbull government ramps up its immunisation message.
Families who have not had their children vaccinated will lose $28 per child every fortnight in family tax benefits.
The government was pushed to close a loophole which would have meant families earning $80,000 would have escaped any penalty.
The current “No Jab, No Pay” policy fines families the one-off $726 supplement, but welfare reforms have cancelled that payment to 400,000 high-income families.
The new measure, which will begin next year, comes as the most recent Health Department statistics show immunisation rates remain low in many regions, particularly on the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast hinterland and far north Queensland.
Of children aged from 24 to 27 months, more than 23 per cent are not fully vaccinated in the Noosa region, 18 per cent in Maroochy and 17 per cent in Port Douglas.
About 14 per cent of children aged between 12 and 63 months in the Gold Coast hinterland are not fully vaccinated. The Whitsundays, Nambour, Buderim, Maryborough, parts of inner Brisbane and the suburbs of Kenmore and Springwood also have poor immunisation rates.
Social Services Minister Christian Porter, who will today announce the measure, told The Courier-Mail there was “no excuse for parents who, without a valid medical reason, choose not to immunise their children”.
“These parents are not only putting their own children’s health at risk, but the health of every other person’s children at risk, too,” he said.
“Reducing fortnightly payments rather than withholding the supplement at the end of the year as occurs at present, will serve as yet another constant reminder for parents to have their children’s immunisation requirements up to date.”
More than 210,000 families have immunised their children fully since the introduction of the ‘‘ No Jab, No Pay” policy in January last year.
Immunisation rates for one-year olds increased 1.35 per cent to 93.63 per cent across the country, while for two-year olds it rose 1.75 per cent to 90.06 per cent.
The ‘‘No Jab, No Pay” rule applies to about 1.5 million families, with 134,000 missing out on the supplementary payment for failing to vaccinate.