The sting of not being vaccinated

Beryce Nelson writes: Re. “The ethics of enforced child vaccinations” (yesterday). It is not just the fact that the children themselves get sick and die — so do their playmates, parents and grandparents. The “carrot” approach worked well for decades with free, readily accessible immunisation services supported by strong government promotion. But the disappearance of key life-threatening childhood diseases has resulted in a generation of less interested younger parents and governments seemingly complacent about the need to maintain high participation rates of immunisation.

But because the participation rate is now so low in some areas and with the daily use of “planes, trains and automobiles” by a highly mobile population, Australia is experiencing a significant re-emergence of diseases like whooping cough with all their terrible consequences. The AMA has been trying to get some sense into the national debate for some time, and many rural GPs think it is only now a matter of time before polio and other devastating diseases reappear.  Time for state and federal health ministers to get serious. Australia is not a Third World, country is it?

Barbara Preston writes: Paula Gerber’s “The ethics of enforced child vaccinations” did not mention other categories of children whose rights must also be recognised. There are babies too young to be immunised who may be infected by, for example, an unimmunised friend of an older sibling, and there is that very small number of children with a genuine reason to delay immunisation. They have a right to health, too, and not to be infected with a terrible disease by children whose parents “choose” not to vaccinate them. With rare exceptions, unvaccinated children should not be in childcare or in school (or mixing with others in any way  where they can infect vulnerable others). Of course carrots are better than sticks, and we do not want to jeopardise rights to education, but babies also have rights to health — and life.

Tighten the tax loopholes

Peter Matters writes: Re. “Memo to Hockey: what’s really wrong with the Tax Office” (yesterday). The reason that the ATO needs to come down too hard on small business, is firstly, that big business can make use of a wide choice of loopholes to avoid paying tax and secondly, that public opinion allows them to get away with it.

Kerry Packer used to declare often — and proudly — that it is every citizen’s duty to pay as little tax as possible. Furthermore, his inference was quite clearly that if you can get away with tax evasion, good luck to you.

Australia is not only a lowly taxed country, but the rich pay a much smaller sum in tax in proportion to their income that the wage slaves and due to the current trend of increasing income gaps, the tax avoided no doubt amounts to a large sum. Furthermore, the big boys — and girl — are skilled in using their money to buy public opinion to allow them to get away with it. I am not a lawyer, but it is strikingly evident, that the law must not only be tightened but also simplified to stop up the loopholes.

Sadly, if Labor should ever have a majority in both houses to push through such a real measure — not a token one — the billionaires would buy themselves into a situation close to civil war. Furthermore, the next reactionary government would repeal such a law, as the current Opposition Leader has promised to do. In  case I am being accused of being a rabid socialist, my plea is “not guilty”. I believe in the most elementary precept of Christianity: “All people are my brothers and sisters.”

Peter Fray

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