Q: The idea of a universal living wage - is this idea feasible and if so how do we pay for it?



Nigel Dalton from REA Group says: It's feasible in countries like Australia and NZ much more so than the USA. The gap between rich and poor, whilst growing, is not not yet a state of open hostility. We should guard that carefully.

Jim Stanford from The Australia Institute says: There are many different UBI proposals, some would be incrementally expensive (based on folding in existing programs), some would be very expensive and would require an expansion of the tax base. Society can definitely afford this, if we choose to. I think stronger social security in general is a good idea, and will assist the transition to new work. But it doesn't have to be a UBI: improving benefits & accessibility in existing programs (like Newstart) would be good too,

Jarrod Ball from the Business Council of Australia says: We should start by looking at the existing policy settings that we have to assist during periods of structural change and transition rather than immediately jumping to new policies. Australia has a robust and targeted safety net, mass education, universal healthcare and aspects of the tax and transfer system that will assist in transition.

Fiona McKenzie from Australian Futures Project says: The concept of a Universal basic income (UBI) is being increasingly talked about and even piloted in some countries such as Finland. Even the IMF has started talking about it. The idea is that a UBI would help to reduce income inequality and protect people affected by technological change and globalization. While a good idea in principle, the challenge is working out how this would affect existing tax and ‘transfer’ measures (welfare) that already exist and how it would affect the wider economy. Other measures would have to be carefully replaced by the UBI to avoid negatives like inflation. The risk is that some people would end up worse off than before. Hence the pilot projects to try and figure out if the concept can be applied in practice. If you are interested, see example such as: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/finland-universal-basic-income-lower-stress-better-motivation-work-wages-salary-a7800741.html and https://www.forbes.com/sites/francescoppola/2017/10/15/the-imf-gives-a-cautious-welcome-to-universal-basic-income/2/#23e3143698f2.

Nathan Taylor, from University of Melbourne says: This idea has been around for a long time. President Nixon considered it as part of the ‘War on Poverty’ and it would have guaranteed a family of four $1,600 a year (which was considerable in 1969). The problem? It is both very expensive the implement and it also changes individual incentives so that it becomes more expensive over time.