Australia's hardliner conservative government has instituted a "no jab, no pay" policy, which will stop families of unvaccinated children from accessing family and child care benefits. The government estimates it will save more than $500 million from the measure.
The move, designed to punish parents who refuse to vaccinate their children, will affect at least 10,000 families per year. It is estimated to save $142 million per year, totaling $508 million over the next four years. Some doubt the estimates as if parents are cut off from other, vital, services they may just vaccinate their children, eliminating any financial benefit to the government.
At the same time as the program is instituted the government will spend $26 million during that time on programs to encourage immunization, including improved vaccine registers covering all school-based vaccinations, incentives to doctors who target non-immunized children, and running an information campaign to raise public awareness of the health risks.
The "no jab, no pay" policy has faced opposition from immunization experts, who say it's more effective to spend money on programs that target families that want to be immunized, but face barriers such as poverty or have missed vaccines because they were born abroad.
According to University of Sydney professor Julie Leask has said only about 2 per cent of families are registered as conscientious objectors to vaccination, and about half of those aren't hardened opponents that could be easily swayed.
Yet about 4 or 5 per cent of parents have not had their children immunized because of difficulty accessing the program.
Yet slogans like "no jab, no pay" and the idea of punishing objectors resonate with the governing party's conservative voter base, so the policy goes for the votes rather than solving the underlying health issues.
The strategy is familiar to many citizens around the globe who see policies come into force that do not represent logic, instead seeking to win votes and appeal to party ideologies rather than solve problems.