Pirate Party’s Universal Basic Income – Costed, considered and good for Australia

While we appreciate the initiative that the Australian Greens have made in putting a version of Universal Basic Income (UBI) forward, Pirate Party Australia long ago developed the idea into a practical and costed policy that is good for Australia.

While some criticisms of the Greens’ approach are valid, our own UBI policy has many fundamental differences. However, many criticisms of the Greens’ UBI policy are unfair and only show the ignorance of the critic, often being based on “intellectual guilt by association”, without any real engagement with the detail.

The Pirate Party UBI policy is not a universal payment to all, but rather part of an integrated taxation and welfare system, where an citizen earning $40,000 a year pays no tax nor receives any benefit. Above this income, they pay tax. Below this income, their income is topped up to a maximum of $15,000 a year, representing an effective UBI.

This reduces the problem of churn, where people pay tax only to have it refunded. It also means people always have the opportunity to apply themselves, with the reduction of poverty traps. It also means increased agency – people can turn down jobs which are not suitable, and do not have to undergo the demeaning bureaucratic process of justifying themselves as being unemployed – and can contribute to society as they see fit.

Critics claim that a UBI would be used as an excuse to reduce spending on education and health. This critique is premature at best – those that would seek to reduce government expenditure already do so. The Pirate Party’s commitment to these expenditures would continue, and presumably the Greens’ would also. As an example, our policies include public support for dental care and a commitment to the NDIS.

Our taxation system comprises over 120 different taxes, and welfare payments number 20 in total. Our policy greatly simplifies the tax and welfare system, with the resultant saving in adminstrative costs.

While ignorant critics ask “what about other cases”, our Universal Basic Income is topped up by additional payments. These inclusions can be counted on one hand, and increase equity at the same time as the overall complexity of the tax and welfare system is reduced.

These inclusions cover child support, pensions for the aged, disabled, veterans and carers and also rent assistance.

Our finances are fully costed, much as some critics flippantly ask where the money is going to come from. We propose to make greater use of land value taxation as our income tax and welfare system becomes fairer. Australia is currently in a time of crisis, something many of us can see. It is time for a fresh approach, without the nit-picking and vacous arguments we have seen from the media so far.

It is time for Australia to have a serious discussion of Universal Basic Income.

The above statement can be attributed to : John August, Councillor, Pirate Party of Australia

The Pirate Party of Australia recognises that elements of a UBI policy have been developed by the Queensland Greens, and that the Liberal Democratic Party of Australia previously had policies and approaches which emphasised a UBI. Nevertheless, our comments remain pertinent with regards to the recent Australian Greens UBI initiative.

Further information may be found in our policy statement

For interviews and further information contact:

John August
Councillor, Pirate Party Australia
Email [email protected]

Simon Frew
Councillor, Pirate Party Australia
Email [email protected]

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