Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

A non-means tested, non-taxed government payment for all ought to be Tony Abbott's 'maxi' reform, and it should receive welfare lobby support

By Brian Frost - posted Thursday, 23 January 2003

Tony Abbott's 'Big Bang' welfare strategy immediately raised my hackles, given the propensity for him to generate ideas inimical to citizens in general and to unwilling recipients of income support in particular.

There is no doubt that the welfare system needs an overhaul. Just as there is no doubt that higher payments are necessary to support those suffering under the inequities of neo-liberal policies. Despite Tony's history, the idea of a 'maxi' welfare reform project does have some merit since we currently have two income support policies: one for pensioners, including age pensioners, and one for the labour force or potential labour force.

That is, provided it helps the people in need of income support and is not presented merely to save money, as Coalition policy usually appears to demand.


A recent item announcing a National Summit on Government and Social Renewal was reported in the QCOSS newsletter of 16 December 2002.

The summit will "consider plans (submitted by participants) which break through barriers, harness diverse institutional capacities, unleash social and financial capital and redraw the boundaries between government, communities and business".

In this context, the time now appears to have arrived for serious consideration, research and, hopefully, implementation of a different concept to address the inequalities in our present system of welfare support.

One idea, variously called "guaranteed annual income" (GAI), "basic income", "territorial dividend", "state bonus", "demogrant", "citizen's wage" and "universal benefit" presents itself as a viable alternative to the present ad hoc and inefficient system.

In the past two decades this concept has gradually become the subject of an unprecedented and fast-expanding public discussion, particularly in Europe and parts of the Third World.

Some see it as a crucial remedy for many social ills including unemployment and poverty. Others denounce it as a crazy, economically flawed and ethically objectionable proposal.


In a background paper presented to the VIIIth International Congress of the Basic Income European Network (BIEN) in October 2000, Philippe van Parijs defined basic income thus: "A basic income is an income paid by a political community to all its members on an individual basis, without means test or work requirement."

The concept of unconditional universal income support has not so far achieved any real degree of political recognition, as this concept is still relatively new to Australia despite one of the recommendations of the First Main Report of the Commission of Inquiry into Poverty in 1975 being for the adoption of a carefully targeted and means-tested proposal.

Allan McDonald of the Organisation Advocating Support Income Studies (OASIS) has stated:
"The primary objective of the support income system is to provide a more equitable distribution of income for all citizens without reducing or weakening individual initiative and enterprise. Within the umbrella of this primary objective there are a number of targets or objectives.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. All

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Brian Frost is a project officer at the Australia Pensioners and Supreannuants League, Queensland.

Related Links
Australian Pensioners and Supperannuants League
Article Tools
Comment Comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy