Will the Abbott Government’s anti-vaxxers decision really matter?

On the twelfth of April, the Federal Government announced that it would be removing the ‘conscientious objector’ exemption category which requires recievers of child care benefits to vaccinate their offspring. Many commentators, including Bill Shorten who, let’s be real, has built most of his appeal so far on the fact he’s not Tony Abbott – have lauded the move.

Source: Australian Government

Source: Australian Government

Usual detractors of the Liberal Party seem to be celebrating that, at a few months shy of his second year as Prime Minister, Tony Abbott has finally done something right. However, a quick check with that longtime foe of the Liberal Party, a qualified expert, reveals that the cut fits well into the continuum of the government hatcheting blindly into public funding.

Julie Leask, a social scientist and Associate Professor in the School of Public Health, who specialises in the issues surrounding vaccination, has posted a blog on the subject:

It amounts to a form of mandatory vaccination for lower income families, but without a no-fault vaccine injury compensation system implemented alongside. Some children from lower income families will no longer be able to attend childcare. It almost certainly won’t shift entrenched vaccine rejectors.

The hard core of the anti-vax group are not going to change their views on the subject because they see it as no longer reasonable. This is a group of people who are against vaccination and have attached their position to their identity, meaning they understand any pro-vax science as a personal attack. A hostile approach is not what will work to turn anti-vaxxers, and will likely turn those on the fence about the issue into die-hard followers of the movement.

It’s a tactic favoured by the LNP. The party has targeted a public fear and blown it up to massive proportions. Vaccination rates, often perceived to be falling after the anti-vax movement went viral, have actually remained at 92%, where they have been for years, with no small amount of that pesky 8% refusing vaccinations due to religious reasons, or practical reasons, most often related to infrastructure.

While it may seem that the Liberal party is doing the right thing and listening to reliable sources on the vaccination issue, its new commitment to the evidence seem to exclude those on policy, making  ‘no jab no pay’ a largely symbolic and ultimately misguided move.

Feature Image: SBS

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