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Theft of taxpayers' money

May 10, 2012

There is an absurdity in the law in Australia.

Parents are entitled to a government payment known as Maternity Immunisation Allowance. Here is what the form used to claim this allowance says:

Maternity Immunisation Allowance is a non-income tested payment to encourage parents to immunise their children. It is generally paid in 2 separate amounts for children who have been fully immunised and are aged between 18 months and 24 months and between 4 and 5 years of age. It can also be paid for children adopted from outside Australia who entered Australia before their 16th birthday.

Notice the words in bold. Note the words "fully immunised". You would think this is clear enough, but it isn't because people can get this allowance without vaccinating their children at all. No shots. No protection against any disease. You see, people can claim "conscientious objection" to vaccination and still get the benefit. That's right – you can get a government benefit simply by saying that you want it but you don't want to do what is required to get it.

My wife receives what is known as a Disability Support Pension because she suffers from two chronic illnesses. While the small amount of money is nice, the real benefit is heavily subsidised medications and treatment. Recently, Centrelink cut off her pension and health care card because they thought (incorrectly) that we had not submitted last year's accounts for our family company. The warning we received was her being asked for >$100 for medications at the chemist because the system knocked back her HC card. No letter, no phone call, just cancel the benefit. We sorted it out, but it was a couple of anxious days.

I was a character witness in court for a friend of mine who faced possible fines of $11,000 for not doing his Centrelink paperwork correctly while unemployed. (He had lost his rental accommodation and moved back into the family home for a few days while he looked for somewhere else to live. This reset some clock.)

People on Newstart have to provide evidence of job-seeking activity every fortnight. When I was teaching at TAFE my wife had to provide Centrelink with a copy of my payslip every fortnight. Miss a week, lose the benefit.

You can see why I have absolutely no time for people who want to claim a benefit to which they are not entitled and all they have to do to get it is say "Give it to me. I will provide no reason why I do not comply with the requirements". It is theft.

There are a couple of religious groups where active and sincere membership might provide grounds for conscientious objection to vaccination. Parents who are not members of these groups are simply lying when they claim they have such an objection. Not believing in science is not a valid reason to refuse to care for your children properly, and it is certainly not a reason to be paid for not providing proper care. I see no reason why refusing vaccination for children should be treated any differently to any other activity or action which might cause harm to children, but we have the ludicrous situation where a form of child abuse is rewarded by allowing the abusers to receive money to which they would not normally be entitled.

Have I mentioned that deliberately not vaccinating children is abuse? Have I mentioned that pretending to have a conscientious objection to something is a form of lying? Have I mentioned that lying to get a benefit that someone would otherwise not be entitled to is theft?

I have? Good. I wouldn't want the lying child abusing thieves to think that I was being obscure.

Addendum: Legislation passed the Federal Parliament today (May 10) linking the Family Tax Benefit, Part A Supplement of $726 to full vaccination of all children. Unfortunately it seems that the theft by fraudulent "conscientious objection" will continue.

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