Let’s talk: Kiwis considering universal wage, should we do the same?

Our neighbours across the ditch are considering throwing out their welfare system and paying all citizens a monthly wage instead.

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?

Should Australia consider scrapping welfare and using a Universal Wage instead? Do you receive the pension?

  1. Anne Wolski  

    If it were less than the pension is now, we would be facing more poverty for those who are struggling to survive now

    • Pam Bodger  

      Should not be for the rich as well. How on earth would this work. Bet the old age would get next to nothing.

    • Kym  

      Yes, we should have UBI. It would be enough to live on. About as much as the single pension. What used to be called child endowment could work as an equity thing, additional payments for special needs.

  2. Dennis Lane  

    When anti discrimination laws came into force several decades ago, did they ever include the difference between being poor or not so poor? No they didn’t . So in actual fact if someone receives a benefit, why do we discriminate against others who’ve worked hard and saved hard? Shouldn’t everyone be entitled to the same? Of course the drinkers, smokers and gamblers brigade will be up in arms over this, but we didn’t discriminate against them at the time.


    As a pensioner unable to work due to several debilitating health issues my concern is what they consider a reasonable income would be for pensioners who cannot go out and work to top up any payments under this type of system.
    I do not understand why “everyone” regardless of income should be paid the same as pensioners. Surely that would blow the social welfare budget sky high, Or, would those earning money have to pay much higher taxes to negate the welfare payment.
    Brings up a lot of questions. I will be listening with interest to hear what the present Government have to say about the idea.

  4. Bowsa  

    If you add the high income earners to the list wouldn’t it cost more?
    Unless of course,the amount will be lower than the current pension whjch would make it more likely to lift poverty numbers than improve them.Put this on top of the move to include our home into the assett list then I would think that it would be an election disaster.

  5. Mick  

    The payment will definitely be less than the current pension, not to mention the people who just don’t want to work wont have to try to get work. There is a debate going on in England for women who by a change in the pension age from 60 to 65 had 5 to 6 years added to their job searching and applying for welfare before they received their pensions.the debate is to give the women the option to take their pension early, but at a reduced rate, in my opinion a much better idea than a universal wage .this would only put the burden even more squarely on the workers shoulders.
    And what wrought’s could the pollies get their little snouts into.

  6. Chris  

    If the payments are less than the pensions are now, then the majority of us will be in dire straits.

  7. Vicki Wolstencroft  

    Perhaps a sliding scale of Payment. Those who are better off receive a smaller monthly payment than say those currently reliant on the pension. The idea certainly has merit.

  8. Barb  

    I would like to see more debate on the issue. It has promise. It would certainly reduce current costs significantly as you would not need the large bureaucracy currently devoted to managing the system or the enforcement either.

  9. Derek  

    Will be interesting to see Governments story on this idea.
    Another thing nobody has suggested so far is the number of people that will be put out of work , from Centrelink and other groups that currently administer pensions etc.
    Also how will we get our UBI delivered to us , particularly those living in very rural arrears.
    Will this also do away with pensioner concessions on medical costs?
    I hope that it is really looked through carefully , so they can get it right first time.
    Also how will rises in amount happen as costs rise?

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