TUESDAY, 3 AUGUST 2021
SUBJECTS: Labor’s $300 vaccination incentive
TOM CONNELL, HOST: Welcome back. If you're thinking about getting a vaccine, Labor wants you to get $300 if you do it by 1 December. It's a headline-grabbing policy. Labor MP Andrew Leigh joins me for more. It's getting the headlines. What is it actually based on, though? Who's come up with this policy?
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Well, Tom, there's been a range of people who've recommended vaccine incentives. A new study out of Oxford found a 50 per cent uptake increase associated with cash payments and found they're more effective than lotteries in terms of incentivising people to get the jab.
CONNELL: Is that for Australia, though?
LEIGH: It was based on a US survey. I think it's a randomised trial that we ought to look at here. We've got Joe Biden looking at vaccine incentives. A range of other countries have moved on this.
The fact is that Australia is running last in the vaccination Olympics. We need to do far more to catch up.
CONNELL: So the party or the leader, what, has just read some stuff about what other people are doing and said '$300, that'll do'?
LEIGH: Labor looks carefully at the research, and we've proposed this based on what the research is saying. The fact is the Commonwealth Government already has financial incentives in place to encourage vaccination. It's the No Jab, No Pay program which every parent will be familiar with: six childhood vaccinations, and if you don't get them you don't get the money. The same principle-
CONNELL: -You’re not getting money there, just to be clear. This is a cash payment. That's obviously the Government subsidy for childcare, so it is a different thing.
LEIGH: But it's the same principle: that government financial incentives are tied to vaccination. You're quite right, Tom. We're saying that this should be an additional payment for Australians, and that then injects money into the local community and allows more spending at a time in which the economy is struggling.
CONNELL: Did Labor talk to any medical experts who actually deal with vaccine hesitancy here in Australia?
LEIGH: Absolutely, and we know from the research that there's two key sources of vaccine hesitancy among the 12 per cent who say they won't get vaccinated. One is concerns about safety and the other is trust in the government. We need two-
CONNELL: -So who did Labor speak to, specifically?
LEIGH: We have a wide range of conversations. Obviously the Grattan Institute-
CONNELL: -People were sought out specifically and spoken to?
LEIGH: Absolutely. Obviously, the Grattan Institute has done a range of careful modelling on this, and a vast variety of experts have sought out Labor to have their views heard. It's extraordinary that the Federal Government would rule this out at a time in which they have botched the vaccine rollout. At a time in which Australia is running last for vaccination in the advanced world, why would you be knocking ideas like this on the head?
CONNELL: Well, they've said that their preferred option is incentives, that people want their freedom. It also sets an interesting precedent. Next time there's another vaccine, maybe people will say 'do I get money for that vaccine?'
LEIGH: We need to do all we can in order to get Australians vaccinated, Tom. You look at the Doherty Institute modelling, and that modelling is resting quite heavily on the test, trace and isolate ratios-
CONNELL: -What did you make of General Frewen saying he didn't think this was essentially necessary?
LEIGH: I think we ought to be focusing on all of the strategies that can work right now. We need a stronger advertising campaign. Some of those ads that the Government's run have been effective. Others have been criticised by advertising experts-
CONNELL: -Alright, we're very truncated. I know I was going to talk to you about JobKeeper. Another time.
LEIGH: Absolutely. Always happy to be your #JobKeeperWarrior and talk about some of the rorts that have been in there in the system.
CONNELL: Andrew Leigh, you got a line in there anyway.
Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra.