welfare rights

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.

Currently more than 800,000 people are without paid work and are struggling to meet basic needs such as housing and food. There are countless stories of those living on welfare having to choose between paying a bill or eating a meal. Anyone who has been unemployed knows it costs money to seek employment, from printing your resumes to the cost of travel to interviews, appropriate clothing or a haircut. It is nearly impossible to look for paid work if you are homeless and hungry.

In delivering his third federal budget speech on May 8, federal Treasurer Scott Morrison claimed his government would guarantee the essential services Australians rely on. Presumably this included the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

However, Morrison only mentioned the NDIS once in his half-hour budget speech, and that was 25 minutes in. He said, “every dollar and every cent committed to delivering the National Disability Insurance Scheme remains in place and always will,” before quickly moving on to "stopping the boats", "terrorism" and border security.

A Senate committee inquiry into the Community Development Programme (CDP) — supposedly covering remote employment and community development — has found it causes real harm to people and communities. It is a racist work for the dole scheme and it must be scrapped.

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.

Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton reported that on February 14 Moreland City Council in Victoria passed her motion calling for an increase in the Newstart allowance. This follows similar decisions by 10 South Australian local councils prompted by campaigners from the Anti-Poverty Network.

The motion called for Newstart to be increased to the Henderson poverty line. Newstart is currently $177 below the poverty line.

Mass mobilisations broke out in Argentina over the last two weeks of 2017 following the government’s attempt to cut pension benefits. Unions, political parties and student organisations took to the streets to protest the austerity measures and resist the battering of the police.

When federal parliament reconvenes on February 5, the Coalition government’s first priority will be to pass two punitive bills which, if made into law, will make life even harder for those trying to get by on income support.

Disabled people faced off with armed police at Parliament on July 19 as they were told their T-shirts exposing the savage nature of Tory cuts were off-limits, Morning Star Online said the next day.

The campaigners were there to lobby MPs over the horrendous toll the Conservatives’ austerity and blitz on essential benefits has had on disabled people. The rally was part of a week of action organised by Disabled People Against Cuts to flag up the brutal nature of the attacks.

"Social justice isn't copyrighted," British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn told Naomi Klein in an interview published at The Intercept on Thursday.

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