Andrew Little at WelTec. Credit to:


Following the lead of countries like Finland, Netherlands and Canada, New Zealand is now making its first steps towards a basic income. In a recent Stuff news article, Andrew Little, leader of the Labour Party, the second largest party in the New Zealand’s parliament, says Labour is considering a basic income. This interest is mainly motivated by the rise in structural unemployment, which guarantees profound changes in how New Zealanders work. Automation and precariousness of employment, self-employment and new business models are all affecting the way people work, and these structural changes occupy a central place in present day Labour Party concerns.


Indeed, the Party made these concerns – as well as the possibility of a basic income to address them – central to its Labour’s Future of Work Conference, which took place earlier this week, on the 23rd and 24th of March. The Future of Work Commission has released two background papers on universal basic income, one of which can be found here. This paper, by researchers Max Harries and Sebastiaan Bierema, analyses basic income in general and in the New Zealand context, also mentioning that a pilot programme could be an important first step into a future fully-fledged basic income implementation.


What Labour Party leaders in New Zealand will do, it’s hard to say. However, Keith Rankin, a New Zealander author who has written about basic income, highlights some possibilities in a recent article. These possibilities are similar to other basic income tax reform ideas presented, based on income tax redistribution. Keith proposes taxing income from both labour (work wages) and land (property) at a rate between 33 and 37%, and redistributing that money to all adult residents.


More information at:

Blake Caryton-Brown, “Labour leader Andrew Little promises debate on universal basic income”, Politics, March 14th 2016


Chris Weller, “New Zealand is debating a plan to give people unconditional free money”, Tech Insider, March 14th 2016


Keith Rankin, “Universal Basic Income and income tax reform”, Briefing Papers, March 22nd 2016


André Coelho, “Miguel Horta: “Negative Income Tax in Portugal [Negative Income Tax em Portugal]””, Basic Income News, June 3rd 2015


New Zealand Labour Party, “The Future of Work” website.


Max Harris and Sebastiaan Bierema, 2016, “A Universal Basic Income for New Zealand”, Proceedings of the Conference The Future of Work, New Zealand