No jab, no JobSeeker: Govt could link Covid-19 vaccine to welfare

No jab, no JobSeeker: Govt could link Covid-19 vaccine to welfare. Source: Getty
No jab, no JobSeeker: Govt could link Covid-19 vaccine to welfare. Source: Getty

The coronavirus vaccine will not be mandatory for Australians, but Health Minister Greg Hunt has said the Government may impose some incentives to encourage Australians to get the jab.

“We’d like to see a take up of 95 per cent,” Hunt told Sunrise on Thursday.

When asked whether the Government would consider linking the vaccine to welfare payments like JobKeeper or JobSeeker, Hunt did not rule it out.

“Our first goal is to encourage as many Australians as possible and I’m confident that with a vaccine that can save lives and protect lives…very large numbers of Australians will take it up,” Hunt said.

“But we reserve the right, subject to medical advice, to take steps that might assist.”

The Australian Government made a deal with UK drug company AstraZeneca to provide 25 million Australians with the Covid-19 vaccine.

“Under this deal we have secured early access for every Australian,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

“If this vaccine proves successful we will manufacture and supply vaccines straight away under our own steam.”

The exact cost of the AstraZeneca deal is yet to be disclosed, but Australia has so far invested $333 million in Covid-19 medicines, therapies and vaccines, with $256 million directed towards vaccines.

Morrison encouraged Australians to get the vaccine, saying they should think about others before they make their decision.

“You have got to do it for yourself, your family and for your fellow Australians,” Morrison said.

“I mean, people can’t think of just themselves in these situations.”

Ministers wanted climate protestors’ welfare payments canned

This isn’t the only instance where the Government has suggested linking welfare payments to Australians’ choices.

Last year, home affairs minister Peter Dutton faced criticism over comments that climate protestors should lose their welfare payments.

Employment minister Michaelia Cash agreed with Dutton’s sentiment, saying: “Taxpayers should not be ­expected to subsidise the protests of others. Protesting is not, and never will be, an exemption from a welfare recipient’s mutual obligation to look for a job.”

Cash told The Australian that those who refused to look for a job because they were “too busy” protesting might find their payments suspended.

Read next: How much the Covid-19 vaccine will cost Australians

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