universal basic income

There is a common trend when arguing against a Universal Basic Income (UBI) to use critiques that could apply to any policy. The logical thing to do, if we were to take this line of reasoning at face value, would be to stand for nothing.

Before looking into these criticisms, we should begin by addressing exactly what is a UBI. A UBI is an unconditional, liveable wage for every citizen. If it does not meet the three metrics of 1) unconditionality; 2) liveability; and 3) for every citizen; then it is not a UBI.

The idea of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) is for the government to give everyone — rich and poor — a regular income that would be enough to cover their basic needs. It would be an unconditional payment, meaning you would not have to work or satisfy job-search tests to receive it.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale raised the prospect of a “four-day work week or a six-hour day” as part of an address to the National Press Club on March 15.

This is a good discussion to be having in a country where people work among the longest hours in the world and where productivity growth has massively outstripped wage growth in recent decades.

Di Natale also flagged the possibility of a Universal Basic Income — which he described as a “guaranteed adequate income”.

Universal Basic Income (UBI) is not a new idea. But it is an idea whose time has come. It is one of the simplest, most obvious pieces of social policy imaginable: every member of a society, with no exceptions, is entitled to enough money to live on.

Eligibility is not conditional on age or employment status, or education or criminal record like the poorly-built social welfare programs of modern Australia that have deep, but invisible, cracks for the most vulnerable to fall into.

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