Parents in Australia who don't have their children immunized by Jan. 1 will soon find themselves embroiled in what the country calls its "no jab, no pay" laws—meaning if they don't take their kids for vaccinations by then, they'll lose childcare benefits, rebates, and a federal tax benefit, Yahoo Australia reports. The legislation passed the country's Senate on Monday, leaving only exemptions for medical reasons, meaning that parents who opt out of vaccination for philosophical or religious reasons would miss out on welfare payments that could total up to $15,000 Australian (nearly $11,000 US) per year, ABC News Australia reports. The paper notes that close to 40,000 Aussie kids under the age of 7 haven't been immunized due to parental objections, while the Sydney Morning Herald cites a stat from Australia's health department that says 1.8% of the country's kids were registered as conscientious objectors in 2014, up from 0.2% in 1999.
The new laws will save about $500 million over four years, the Herald notes. There's some back-and-forth over timing, with at least one Aussie leader noting the changes should be delayed until 2018 to get data systems up to speed; another lawmaker, though, says parents would have at least two weeks to remedy the situation before payments are nixed, per Yahoo. One legislator in particular wants to go even further and take away most welfare for all parents and their "little blighters." "The government is not your parent or your spouse—get over it," liberatarian Sen. David Leyonhjelm said Monday, grumbling "the least they can do is immunize their bundles of dribble and sputum so they don't make the rest of us sick," per Yahoo. Leyonhjelm also thanked "the childless people of Australia" for their productivity and for subsidizing benefits, per the Sydney Morning Herald—which he says is like having people in "wheelchairs pay for other people's running shoes," Yahoo notes. (Read more Australia stories.)