Outrage is being felt by anti-vaxxers as the government prepares to cut some benefits from those who choose not to immunise their children.
Outrage is being felt by anti-vaxxers as the government prepares to cut some benefits from those who choose not to immunise their children. Allan Reinikka ROK030516apharmac

Budget 2017: 3 controversial costs for the North Coast

BOLD plans to boost vaccination rates and crack the whip on dole bludgers drawn up in the Federal Budget will leave some on the North Coast reeling.

Anti-vaxxer heartlands around the North Coast are among those set to feel the pinch as a result of reforms canvassed in Tuesday night's plans for Australia's economy.

Anti-vaxxers

ANTI-vaccination groups are up in arms against the plan to slug parents who don't vaccinate their children under the budget.

From July 2018, the Federal Government is set to slash the family tax benefit by $28 a fortnight from those who refuse to vaccinate in an effort to boost immunisation rates in known problem areas such as the North Coast.

A Facebook page supporting the Bangalow-based Australian Vaccination-Sceptics Network lashed out at the cuts saying it disregards parents rights to chose how they care for their children.

"Anyone who thinks this government respects a parent's rights to raise their children needs to look at what is happening now and realise that this government thinks they not only own us, but our children as well," Fans of AVN wrote.

Member for Richmond Justine Elliot supported the budget measure outlining the importance of vaccination for the health of our communities.

But she did say she'd like to see more education measures implemented to bust misconceptions about immunisations within anti-vaxxers heartlands within her electorate.

 

Anti Vaccination activists Robert Deutsch and Donna Koscica are in Murwillumbah spreading the word about the dangers of Vaccination.
Anti Vaccination activists Robert Deutsch and Donna Koscica are in Murwillumbah spreading the word about the dangers of Vaccination. Scott Powick

Welfare crackdown

DRUG testing and tough regulations for welfare recipients will be strongly felt in pockets around the Northern Rivers.

Ms Elliot criticised the trial to test 5000 welfare recipients for illicit substances as "a headline-grabbing initiative".

"While it may give (the government) the headlines lets look at the reality and the complexity of the situation," Ms Elliot said.

"I don't want to see that we have a massive underclass of people in our region living in poverty because of some of the extreme measures."

Page MP Kevin Hogan rejected the suggestion the measure is draconian by ABC North Coast and labelled the trial as an approach to deter those on government benefits from using their money on drugs.

Mr Hogan clarified concerns around the threat to cut-off payments to those who don't attend welfare-related appointments.

He said the hard-line stance to stop payments for a period of time only applies to those who "habitually" skip meetings.

 

Man Slumped On Sofa With Drug Paraphernalia In Foreground In House
Man Slumped On Sofa With Drug Paraphernalia In Foreground In House monkeybusinessimages

University students

ANGER over university fee restructures is set to hurt young people already struggling to make ends meet, Ms Elliot said.

From 2018, students will contribute an additional 7.5 per cent, to be phased in over four years.

"That's a big issue for local, young people who want to try and get to university its already very difficult, there are a lot of challenges," she said.

SCU vice-chancellor Professor Adam Shoemaker told The Northern Star last week following the shock announcement the changes were "a sad state of affairs".

"The amount being clawed back by the Government is around $2.8 billion and this is almost the amount squandered by the VET fee fiasco," he said.

Professor Shoemaker said another issue is the repayment threshold is too low, as from July 2018 students will have to start paying back their loans when they reach an income level of $42,000 per year, down from the current level of about $55,000.

"The minimum wage is close to $35,000 and the tax-free threshold has gone up, so why would this go down," he said.

"You don't want to bankrupt future generations."

 

Southern Cross University's new vice chancellor, Adam Shoemaker, is enjoying the new role based at Lismore.
Southern Cross University's new vice chancellor, Adam Shoemaker, is enjoying the new role based at Lismore. Cathryn McLauchlan

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