A BID to restore free infant immunisation clinics has been voted down by a slim majority of Bayswater councillors.
The free clinic days used to immunise about 750 to 1000 kids a year and cost the council around $120,000, until a split council voted to end the clinics to save money in 2022.
Councillor Dan Bull, the former mayor and one of five who’d wanted to keep the clinics last year, moved at the January 31 council meeting that they look into restoring the clinics when preparing this year’s budget.
“This is local. It supports people who are unable to access the state service,” Cr Bull said.
“The easier it is to access the service the greater the chance people will get their children vaccinated. Right here and now there are a bunch of people who can’t access immunisation services … as a consequence of the last budget decision.”
Cr Lorna Clarke agreed the service wasn’t simply a double-up and she’d had a lot of correspondence from people who’d found it more accessible than a GP.
“I think for the sake of what is $120,000, we can sit down and look at our budget line-by-line, which we do most years, and I think we should do again, we can find $120,000.
“We can find it in things like reducing the drinks that get served at the councillor bar behind me, reducing a range of different costs or underspends where the money is not spent and we roll it over year on year, because we have huge rollovers.”
Those opposed mainly argued that vaccination wasn’t the business of councils.
Mayor Filomena Piffaretti, voted against the clinic spending each time.
“When I was elected mayor I promised change and that change extends to financial reform, where we are a council that spends ratepayer moneys with the utmost thought and consideration in a responsible and sustainable way, and on services which are the remit to local government.
“Until this council is in a position where we are financially sustainable, it would be irresponsible for me to support funding a service with ratepayer money, effectively taxing them twice, for a service which is the primary responsibility of other levels of government,” Cr Pifferetti said.
Cr Bull’s motion was backed by councillors Clarke, Sally Palmer, Elli Petersen-Pik, and Giorgia Johnson.
But they were outnumbered by those who voted to cut the funding last time whose stances remained unchanged: councillors Piffaretti, Assunta Meleca, Steven Ostaszewskyj, Josh Eveson, Michelle Sutherland, and Catherine Ehrhardt.
by DAVID BELL