Labor pulls back on $6b vaccine incentive plans

Labor's finance spokesperson Senator Katy Gallagher. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong
Labor's finance spokesperson Senator Katy Gallagher. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Cold water has been poured over a Labor proposal to hand $300 to people for getting jabbed to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates in the country.

ACT senator Katy Gallagher said financial incentives were an option to drive vaccine uptake but that Labor's promise to offer cash for vaccinations was becoming irrelevant.

Questioned by Insiders host David Speers on Sunday, the party's finance spokesperson softened a commitment to the calls made by Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese in August.

"I think probably the time has passed for that in the sense that our vaccination rates are getting higher," Senator Gallagher said.

"That was always the aim of Labor's commitment in that regard and our push to try and get people to roll up their sleeves, and particularly those who were concerned about it.

"There is no doubt that those financial incentives work."

The opposition's $6 billion plan was announced in August in response to a lagging national vaccination rate.

Mr Albanese said the Morrison government should offer a financial incentive of $300 to everyone who had gotten fully vaccinated by the end of the year.

"The government has failed on its two jobs this year, the rollout of the vaccine and fixing quarantine. It needs to use every measure at its disposal to protect Australians and our economy," he said at the time.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison rejected the calls, saying he would not "pay off" vaccine hesitant Australians.


In early August, the national vaccination rate stood at less than 20 per cent with 41 per cent of those aged 16 and over having received one dose.

Finance Minister Simon Birmingham responded on Sunday to the Labor senator's comments, calling the policy a "thought bubble", a waste of money and an "insult" to Australians already planning to get vaccinated.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Sunday Australia had reached a double-dose vaccination rate of 67.8 per cent with 84.6 per cent of the eligible population aged 16 and over having received their first jab.

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This story 'The time has passed': Labor douses $300 vax incentive proposal first appeared on The Canberra Times.


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