Our neighbours across the ditch are considering throwing out their welfare system and paying all citizens a monthly wage instead.
The New Zealand Labour Party is thinking about taking the idea to the next election, after Finland and the Netherlands recently confirmed similar programs in their countries.
The citizens’ income, also known as the Universal Basic Income (UBI), is a basic, unconditional, fixed payment made to every person in the country by the government in lieu of benefits.
It’s thought such a system would help people who regularly find themselves out of work and would eliminate the trouble of having to sign up for welfare every time you lose a job or have a change of circumstance.
NZ Labour leader Andrew Little says his party will debate the issue at a conference at the end of March.
“The question is whether you have an income support system that means every time you stop work you have to go through the palaver of stand-down periods, more bureaucracy, more form filling at the same time as you’re trying to get into your next job,” he told New Zealand website Stuff.
“We are keen to have that debate about whether the time has arrived for us to have a system that is seamless, easy to pass through, [with a] guaranteed basic income and [where] you can move in and out of work on a regular basis.”
Canada has also recently debated the issue, prompting some to question whether or not Australia should consider adopting the policy.
If Australia did embrace the UBI it would mean no more pension for seniors, no more unemployment benefits for those without jobs, and no more Youth Allowance payments for students.
Instead, everyone in the country, no matter how rich or poor, would receive a monthly payment in their bank account from the government.
There is no word yet on how much the payment will be or whether it will be more or less than people on pensions and welfare currently receive.
The idea has found some support in Australia, but opinions are still largely divided.
What do you think?