The one thing I’d change if I ran Australia

I was recently chatting to my sister about how frustrating it was to follow anything political in the news. Whether

I was recently chatting to my sister about how frustrating it was to follow anything political in the news. Whether you agree or disagree with a topic, the back-and-forward arguments of democracy makes it so long for any meaningful change to happen.

Denise, a retired teacher who still keeps plenty of teacherly habits, couldn’t resist putting forward a little thought experiment:

“Let’s say you could do away with all that,” said Denise. “No democracy. You’re in charge of the country for a day. You can pass any law you’d like instantly. What would it be?”

It caught me completely off-guard. I had to admit I had no idea. But the question stuck with me in the days afterward. I kept thinking about what I would change, and why. And I have only just now come to terms with my own feelings on the idea.

My answer is not something everybody would agree with, and would never be passed in reality – at least not in today’s climate. But I feel this is all the more reason to give it a try:

If I were in charge for a day, I would guarantee a basic living wage for every Australian. Everyone. Unconditionally. No questions asked.

It’s not so far fetched. Finland will soon be trialling the idea, and it has plenty of very rational supporters outside the “socialist” circles you would expect.

Nor is it as expensive as one might assume.

Think about the myriad systems and support networks – running at a cost to taxpayers – that would become almost obsolete overnight. Suddenly, it won’t be such a burden to support the unemployed or impoverished. Basic survival will no longer be a problem for the most vulnerable people in our society.

Welfare fraud and “dole bludging” would stop being an issue. Sure, there will always be some who will take advantage of the system, or use the money to fuel existing habits. But research suggests that most living below the poverty line would use this opportunity to break out of these destructive cycles of poverty and addiction.

If working is no longer necessary for survival, people will aim higher; find work that fulfils their true potential. Think about the incredible boost to morale; the enormous long-term benefit the economy could see from a happy country; a land full of people with a sense of purpose.

And then, of course, there’s the benefit to pensioners. With basic needs taken care of, our pensions and superannuation can be put towards improving the quality of life, not just scraping by.

There are certainly arguments against this idea as well. Perhaps the logistics, in the end, simply won’t work out. Maybe Finland’s trial will go nowhere. Maybe ideas like this will be kept out of our system for a firm, practical reason.

But what more nobler thing could we strive for than to give everybody a “fair go”? If I were in charge of the country for a day: oh, how I would love to try.

If you were in charge of the country for a day, what would you change?

  1. Abolish all fringe benefits for X politicians The country would save hundreds of thousands

  2. I would put Politicians on the old age pension and if they did not perform they would get no rental assistance and be cut off medicare

  3. I would change the pension payments to weekly .a lot of people live week to week and have trouble controlling their finances ,if they got half one week and then half the next I feel they would be able to budget better . I am sure we would have less people struggling ,not everyone can budget .

    • I agree not everyone can budget but doing it your way will not stop the poverty amongst pensioners, I have done the maths the outgoings far exceed the incomings

    • And all other politicians. Once out of politics they are not the taxpayers’ responsibility.

  4. Everyone should retire at age 60, with a pension, so there would be more job openings to get young people off the dole.

    • Compulsory retirement at age 60 is just not realistic. Many people have not finished paying their home off and the extra years are needed to build up their super fund so their would be less people dependent on age pension.

    • I disagree Annette, if you are stil paying off your mortgage at age 60 then you simply overborrowed in the first place. If you have a superannuation savings that has been properly guarded by your government then you can use part of it for that tail-end payment

    • Jo Bain everybody’s circumstances are different a compulsory retirement at 60 is just way too early. We certainly didn’t over borrow second marriage had to start again husband super not nearly enough so need that extra 7 years. My husband would go stark raving mad if he had to retire at 60

    • Jo Bain then you sound like you have no clue what you are talking about .
      There are many reasons people still have mortgages at 60 . Not necessarily be cause they miss managed their money . This just a very stupid comment . Very stupid indeed .

    • Sometimes a little wisdom is required in the workplace. Older workers can provide this. I do agree that youth unemployment is an issue we should deal with.

    • Jo Bain you are so wrong there, to say that if you still have a mortgage at sixty you over borrowed?? There are many in that situation and I am one of these, I was a single parent my mortgage was paid at the minimum rate, as I had other priorities, and I worked full time.

    • Jo Bain, you have that so wrong, sorry. Not everyone who is still paying a mortgage overborrowed. I agree with Lee and Carolyn. As for retiring at 60, I would be bored to tears. We still have so much to offer.

    • A lot of people are working when they truly don’t need the money. Some are just plain greedy and the sad thing is you don’t live forever and the body wears out.
      Voluntary work should be available to those that don’t need the extra cash so that we can get the young ones that wish to work off unemployment benefits.

    • Jo Bain when you can walk in anothers footsteps then you can comment for them until then don’t .i’m one of those still working over 60 and you don’t know my life

    • 60 too young to retire I had trouble retiring at 70, reared family home paid off for years had travelled the world for the last 35/40 years done everything I wanted to do while working & money available,retired now 7 years have slowed a little, still travelling but glad I did the bulk of it while younger & sixty is still young if you have your health,if you haven’t got health you’ve got husband retired about 76,now 79 & bored [email protected] drives me nuts he would still be working if he could,WISH HE WOULD LOL..

    • Kerry Sandford  

      If you are fit and well age should not dictate when you retire. I am 69 working 30 hours a week and dont plan to stop any time soon.

    • Age should definitely not dictate when you retire. I plan to work as long as my health and partner will allow which like Lizzie Windsor means i might hit the double zeroes before the boots and hiviz jacket are hung up.”old farts hang around for ever”

    • Patricia Moule,your living in the past,the young who want to work assert themselves get jobs (plenty around) then there are the lazy who think the world owes them something & would rather bludge off the taxpayer,they are able bodied people quite capable of working,we will never be free of them as unfortunately Australia has become a welfare society…retiring at 60 wouldn’t make any difference to the young, it would just put more people on the pension,a long time too not live but exist…

    • not only that really, but when retrenched in your 50’s its hard to get more work or even with retraining, believe you me I did that many times… so 60 should be the pension age, ditch diggers, manual labourers are sometimes unhealthy because of all the hard work t hey have had to do for 40 or more years, not like the desk sitting pollies. who wouldn’t have a clue…. If you can work longer it should be fine, but if you cant, then you shouldn’t… that’s it.. a choice has been taken from us, but the pollies can retire when they like and get all the benefits to go with that..

  5. I would give everyone over 60 a free all expenses paid Holiday at Malcom Turnbulls house, let him see first hand how little we have to live on

  6. My wish would be for equal pay for both sexes when the job is exactly the same!

    • Owen Gustafson
      That is a liad of crap.
      What you get paid is the legislated wage for the job you do. And in some cases it is how many drinks you buy the boss.

  7. I would give everyone over 60 the baby bonuses they missed out on when they had their children

    • Please welcome our new PM…. Libbi Elliot. When do I get my cheque Libbi for 4 kids lol

    • Loretta Pekin  

      …and child care rebates and 1st home buyers grant and low interest rates…

    • Mike here-not necessarilly (?) Catch up the bonus but stop the current one & pay only unmarried mothers pension for the first mistake. Any after that it becomes a career choice

    • JuneMike Denison how rude!
      I’m not married with 4 children because my “husband” didn’t want the responsibility any more…. So get fucked

    • And can you think maybe ask for child support agencies to actually collect money and stop letting dads quit work to stop paying or getting cash in hand so they pay $7 a fortnight per child….

    • At the risk of being wicked Libbi it’s not too late you know to cash in. With the wonders of modern science all of you lovely ladies could be collecting the bonus right now. Oh my God! Put that sharp implement down! Noooo I was only kidding. Jeez sorry I meant joking.

  8. Politicians to do what’s best for ordinary Australians, rather than what is best for themselves.

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