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A Universal Basic Income Party of Australia

Webinar, today, 10th March at 4pm (Sydney time). 



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An Environmental UBI                        (posted 20/02/2021)

UBIPA hereby puts forward one proposal for a partial Universal Basic Income (UBI) attached to an Environmental Tax. This could prove a popular way forward since over 50% of the population now support a UBI and over 70% of the population now support serious action on climate change.


While other forms of environmental tax could be included, the essence would be tax on CO2 emissions, starting at $40/ton, with all revenues being distributed back to the population as a small UBI, distributed on a per person basis as opposed to per household. This would negate the regressive nature of a carbon tax as some 70% of the population could be better off.


This would more than pay for a Livable Income Guarantee, as proposed by John Quiggin et al. Alternatively, if applied as a UBI style payment, this would create only a small payment per person, which could be provided tax-free universally to everyone. However, we need more drastic climate action than this and hence we could increase the carbon rate by $20 each year. With every increase, the UBI style payment would also increase, ensuring that that the public is compensated.


Using simple rounded figures, Australia emits over 500 million tonnes of CO2 per year. Using a carbon tax of $40/ton, this leads to a revenue of $20 billion. Given an adult population of about 20 million, this leads to about $1000pa per person, around $40 per fortnight.


The current fuel tax is 42.7c per litre (excluding heavy vehicles). This equates to a carbon tax of around $170/tonne. With a carbon tax of $170, a UBI, for adults only, of around $212 per fortnight could be paid. We could start with $40/tonne in 2011-12 rising $20 a year to $200/tonne in 2030 and a UBI of $250/fortnight. 


Hopefully, given such action, Australia would be welcome back into international negotiations on what rate is required. Calculating more precise figures than given here may not prove very useful as what happens will all depend, on population growth, economic growth given covid and developments in technology, but the principal effect is clear.


Two key questions arise. Firstly, the tax is meant to dissuade the emission of CO2. If it is successful as hoped, the revenues would decline over time and the UBI would have to be reduced or paid from other sources. Secondly, do current fuel taxes remain or are they reduced so as not to duplicate the tax collected as a carbon tax. Eventually, when carbon taxes rise to $170/kg, then fuel taxes could possibly be removed. It could however possibly be argued that fuel tax is a tax on pollution. Also it can be seen as a user-pays tax to pay for the roads. Hence fuel tax should possibly remain.


As the carbon tax works through the economy and is incorporated into prices, the value of this extra basic income will be reduced. It would be interesting to see research on the average carbon emissions in the consumption bundles at different income levels. While such a UBI would not be something for nothing, it would create pressure for people to consume products embodying less carbon emissions, and thus hopefully alleviate climate change.


Comments or any corrections would be very welcome.


A Universal Basic Income (UBI) will 

  • create a  happier and healthier society,

  • strengthen our society and our economy, 

  • reduce stress and insecurity,

  • create growth both culturally and economically, 


 
 

Please make a donation to support the campaign for a UBI. 


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Given the post epidemic state of our world today, we need ACTION NOW. No promises, no trickle down actions, but real action. Proposals for a UBI have been discussed for centuries but always suppressed by the "authorities". 


We need ACTION now, no more time-wasting, while people lie in the ditch, under the train tracks. 


Recently we learnt that around 700,000 people are relying, on any given day, on Newstart, but around 1.1 million  people are actually flowing on and off Newstart/Jobseeker each year, due to the temporary nature of the job market (casualisation). There are relatively few people living permanently on Newstart. That means that there are 1.1 million people suffering the indignities of applying for Newstart every year. Applying for Newstart  is no fun, cauising serious mental stress that can be detrimental to someone for life. And just think of the world view created for these people's children.


The concept of a UBI is one of the most researched concepts in economics but regrettably not so much in the other social sciences, despite the wide ranging benefits of a UBI. It is not just a question of money as it improves the health of society as a whole, and it would be of great benefit given the wide-ranging impact of the covid pandemic. There have been many trials of a UBI. The overall result is highly positive and now Spain has adopted one form of UBI (June, 2020). 


What is a UBI? It is a fixed cash amount, universally and equally paid regularly to individuals, unconditional on any means test or any other conditions. Payments could possibly be administered by the tax office, not Centrelink. All you would need to do is give your tax file number and bank account details to the ATO. You would need to register with the ATO if you do not have a tax file number, as the payment could be taxable income. It would probably replace other welfare payments like newstart/jobseeker, the disability pension and possibly the age pension. Income tax scales could be adjusted such that every one earning more than some fixed amount would make no net gain. 


This group could then vote on the preferred forms of UBI and consider related proposals currently being discussed (such as  the Limited Income Guarantee, or Guaranteed Basic Income) that introduce some conditions which UBIPA could support. The aim here is to form a group that any Australian voter can join, not just "experts". If enough people join to make a registered party, then we will put the chosen form of UBI to the public as a whole in an election. A UBI has been found to have so many benefits as listed in the table below.


However, before reading them, the most important thing is to keep an open mind. Our society has been 'brainwashed' into thinking such ideas would never work. People thought cars would never work, that planes would never work, that public health was a pipedream, that we would never be rid of smallpox, that the rich and powerful would never let social welfare systems exist. But these all exist now. Please give this concept your most serious consideration. It took years for people to accept that there is climate change, but now most people have finally realised that we need to work hard to stop it. It will be a similar task to make a UBI policy accepted in Australia. By pressing for a UBI, we we hope to at least improve our welfare systems, even if we cannot yet obtain the ultimate goal.


I say again, a UBI would help make for a much healthier and happier society than we have now.


Talks/Videos


(Click on the speaker's name to see the talk)


"Why we should give everyone a basic income" by Rutger Bregman Ted talk


"A BIG idea, a bot idea — How smart policy will advance tech" by Albert Wenger Ted talk


"Why everyone deserves a basic income" by Guy Standing You Tube Video

Benefits
More Detail
Personal Security
Increased positive sense of security –greater self-confidence, more generosity, kindness, better social relations, a more caring society as a whole
Reduced Poverty and inequality
Reduction in poverty and inequality
Improved Physical Health
Better physical health of society as a whole – reduced public health costs
Improved Mental Health 
Better mental health – less depression, less domestic violence, less suicides
Better Education
Teenagers in trials of a UBI have been found to spend an extra year in school. The trials noted increased participation in further education
Improved Cultural Life of Australia
Increased cultural activity in many areas that do not have a clear monetary benefit to society but they do create an improved enjoyment of life as a whole and of social interactivity
Greater Labour Force Participation
Increased labour force participation arising from a great confidence to go out and seek a job; trials have shown this.
Better Employer/Employee work relations 
Improved employer/employee relations – A more balance relationship where the employer cannot misuse the power to sack someone, threatening to leave them penniless
Admin Cost Savings
Reduction in the huge welfare administration costs, as jobseeker, disability pensions and age pensions are replaced by an automatic fixed payment.
Greater Privacy
Removal of the social psychological cost to society of the investigative/inquisition-like behavior of social services. People cannot cheat the system to obtaint a UBI; everyone gets it automatically.  Destigmatizing government assistance.
Greater Economic Growth, Higher Consumption
With increased security people consume more, save less, leading to greater growth 
Key Advocates. Many people over some two hundred years have supported some form of UBI, going back to Thomas Paine, one of the founding fathers of the United States, who recommended a capital grant with an unconditional citizens pension, back in 1797. Those above are just a few of the many supporters over the last 50 years.

The cost of such a proposal is surprisingly small. The payment would be taxable and tax brackets could be changed so that only people with low or no income make a gain. The UBI payment could replace jobseeker, the age pension. The cost of the administration of Centrelink would be substantially reduced and the distrustful attitude created by the presence of Centrelink, and how it works, would be replaced by a positive wholesome sense of working together for a better Australia. The current government has already spent around $25,000 per man, woman and child on economic stimulus, most of which will go to the wealthy, increasing inequality; this is far more than the net cost of a UBI. 

The good news is that worldwide there is already a significant interest in this concept. Spain adopted the policy in June of this year.  In Australia, while the concept is supported by people from all sides of politics, green, labor and liberal, no one party would therefore represent them fully. It needs to be a cross-party policy for the benefit of all Australians. Hence the question of whether a one policy political party should be established to exert pressure on the government. Given the pandemic, we regrettably cannot call a national conference to discuss this but we could have a mass Zoom meeting with some key speakers from all sides of politics to see if there is sufficient public interest.


The way forward. The first aim is to put pressure on the government to reform the welfare system. Hence we wish to form an incorporated association to see if enough people are interested in pursuing this reform policy. The association can then raise funds with which we can start employing a small staff, to promote the policy professionally. It would need a following of over 500 members to create a party. Let's start with an incorporated entity that can raise funds..


Why a Party? The LNP has currently moved so far to the right that it would seem unlikely for a UBI policy to gain any support from them. The Labor Party is not united behind this policy either given some negative responses from some unions which mistakenly think that a UBI might affect their union members negatively. Many in the Labor Party believe in seeking "real jobs", i.e. manual work, while they see a UBI as supporting the Giga economy and soft services like care workers. Finally, the Greens are supporting this policy but their other policies are not universally well received. 


This is a problem of our party democracy; one has to vote for a party which may have some welcome policies but other unwelcome ones, for example, the treatment of refugees, or putting dentistry on to Medicare. We know that a UBI appeals to many people from both right and left, but these supporters' views in favour of a UBI are not backed by the party leadership. Hence the aim is to form a one-issue party to draw these people out so that they can express their wish for a UBI. 


Other policy aims? The current idea is purposefully to not state other policy aims, as these might well deter people from one side or the other. Stating other policies would only divide the support for a UBI. We need to show how much support there is for a UBI in a very tangible way so that the other parties will listen. We also believe that a UBI would fundamentally change attitudes in society for the better, towards more self-confidence, better mental health, more caring, more generosity, a much warmer giving society. This would change attitudes for the better such that many other improvements would follow on if we can get a UBI started.


A single-issue Basic Income party was formed in Germany ( The Basic Income Alliance (In German: Bündnis Grundeinkommen, abbreviated BGE)) and it has been fairly successful. There is also a party in Sweden (The Basic Income Party (In Swedish: Basinkomstpartiet )).


UBIPA is a democratic political group, not another discussion group or think tank. The time has come for ACTION.  As a democratic group, the group as a whole will be final arbiter of what specific form is UBI is put forward. The current aim is to hold a conference in February 2021 at which proposals can be put forward and voted on. The ultimate aim would be to gain a presence in one or more political forums, such as state or federal senates.


To register your interest in general, please go to  the Contact page, if you would like to hear more, or give your support for such a policy, or help in establishing the organisation to develop this further. 


To join UBIPA, please go to the To Join page.


The sooner we can employ a young management group, the better. We will advertise positions if we obtain sufficient donations. The aim would be for 2 or 3 staff to promote the creation of local support groups. We wish to build a social network of people, all equal and talking to each other, sharing their lives with each other, and hence the aim to create local groups supporting a UBI. 


Please write to us at any time if you have any issues about joining UBIPA (info@ubipa.org)



UBIPA's head office is currently in Young and hence we, at UBIPA  acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands and waters of the people of the Wiradjuri and Ngunnawal nations, and show our respect to elders past, present and emerging. As a national organisation, we also respect the traditional owners of the lands and waters all over Australia.


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Organisations


Basic Income Studies, the new journal created as there is so much research today upon this topic.