Senators Statements - Labor's 'cash for jabs'


Senator STOKER (Queensland—Assistant Minister to the Attorney-General, Assistant Minister for Women and Assistant Minister for Industrial Relations) (13:46): [by video link] From the team who brought you the pink batts scandal and $900 cheques to people who'd passed away, now we have Labor's 'cash for jabs'. We shouldn't be surprised to learn, though, that Labor's proposal will divert money from where it's most needed and do very little to increase Australia's vaccination rate. Labor say it's their policy to use $300 payments as an incentive for people to get vaccinated—it's a copy and paste, though, of the policy announced by US President Biden just a few days earlier—which would come at a cost to Australians of up to $6 billion. It's another mindless imitation by Albanese's Labor, who so often play copycat to former UK leader Corbyn and Mr Biden. And this comes at a time when state driven lockdowns continue to buffer the budget. And, cost apart, the international evidence suggests it would do little to actually encourage people to get vaccinated. The Australian government's behavioural economics team has found that financial incentives are 'unlikely' to drive vaccine uptake in Australia. Indeed, for anyone who might find the payment a driver of behaviour, it would likely—counterproductively—encourage them to delay vaccination until after the next election, hoping that Labor might win. By far the best incentive to get vaccinated is to protect your health. On the best evidence we have, getting vaccinated will lower your chances of getting COVID, it will lower the severity of the illness if you do and it will protect your family members, friends, colleagues and community. But close behind is the end of the justification for the cycle of lockdowns that Australians have endured so patiently, and regaining the freedoms we once took for granted and the can-do, optimistic culture that comes with it.