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Could the idea of a universal basic income work in Australia?

Mark Liddiard writes in The Conversation (2.6.16) about the introduction in some countries of a universal basic income which provides every citizen with at least a basic living wage. The author argues that the policy could also find a home in Australia soon.

‘From next year, Finland will become the first country in the world to introduce a universal basic income, a bold policy idea that gives every citizen a basic obligation-free living wage to meet their living costs.

‘At first glance, the concept of a universal basic income seems both costly and at odds with our prevailing sense of conditionality. That is, what benefit to individuals or society as a whole can possibly flow from letting the idle live in uninterrupted idleness? And how could any politician conceivably sell such an idea in Australia, where the divisive narrative of “lifters and leaners” has been a key plank in justifying recent welfare cuts?

‘However, Finland is not alone. Switzerland will shortly vote on whether to introduce a universal basic income, while in the Netherlands, the city of Utrecht is also considering the idea. It may simply be a matter of time before the idea of a universal basic income becomes mainstream in Australia.’

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