PM rejects Labor's $300 cash-for-jabs plan

Anthony Albanese wants the government to pay $300 to everyone who is fully vaccinated by December 1.
Anthony Albanese wants the government to pay $300 to everyone who is fully vaccinated by December 1.

Fully vaccinated Australians will not be offered one-off cash payments after Scott Morrison dismissed a Labor plan to boost jab rates.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese on Tuesday called for all people who receive both jabs by December 1 to receive $300.

He believes the $6 billion plan will drive up sluggish vaccination numbers and boost consumer spending.

"What we can't afford to do is to continue to languish where we are at the bottom of the table when it comes to our vaccination rates," Mr Albanese told reporters in Canberra.

"We need action now."

The prime minister blasted the proposal as a bankrupt thought bubble that was an insult to all Australians.

"This is a serious public health crisis, it's not a game show," he told reporters in Canberra.

Mr Morrison said how Australians engaged with the program needed to be respected.

"If they do have hesitancy about vaccine, I am not going to pay them off," he said.

"I am going to pay for a GP to sit down with them and work through their concerns, which is what I have already done."

The coalition government is banking on greater freedoms and protecting people's health as major motivations for people to get the jab.

It has also been supportive of businesses offering vaccinated customers rewards through loyalty schemes and other bonuses.

Federal and state governments have set a 70 per cent vaccine coverage target for lockdowns to be minimised and 80 per cent for them to be a thing of the past.

Vaccine rollout coordinator John Frewen said incentives were not needed at this stage but didn't rule them out.

"Right now what resonates most strongly with people in Australia seems to be the incentive of being able to travel internationally again, to not have to quarantine, to avoid lockdowns," he said.

The government argues behavioural economics research shows cash incentives are not necessary and won't be effective.

Mr Albanese said $300 would support local jobs and reward people for tough years during the pandemic.

Leading epidemiologist Mary-Louise McLaws said cash incentives were unnecessary for now, with Australians generally good at reaching high vaccination coverage.

"I actually don't think Australians are that hesitant. There is just not enough vaccine available," she told the Nine Network.

"I would prefer that money to go to people who are really hurting financially with the lockdown."

Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott said nothing should be off the table in achieving high immunisation rates.

"It's got to be open to everyone as an incentive. We have got to make sure there are no perverse incentives," she told Sky News.

The Australian Council of Social Service's Emma Campbell said vaccine access remained the central problem with the rollout.

"People are not being vaccinated, not because they don't want to, but because they're unable to get vaccinated."

Australian Associated Press