The Australian Fabians — Australia’s oldest left-leaning political think tank — will host a discussion and debate about universal basic income in Haymarket, NSW on September 9.

Speakers include Ben Spies Butcher (Senior Lecturer at Macquarie University), Peter Whiteford (Professor at ANU Crawford School of Public Policy), and Louise Tarrant (former National Secretary of United Voice).

Luke Whitington, Deputy Chair of the NSW Labor Party Economic Policy Committee, reports that interest and discussion surrounding has UBI has been on the rise within Australia’s Labor Party. Whitington sees the Fabians’ event as exemplifying this new trend.

The labour movement in Australia is getting serious about basic income. It’s great to see the Fabians facilitating this debate. The motion calling on the ALP to investigate a basic income is gathering momentum in the Labor Party branches. The next NSW and National Conferences will see a strong push for the ALP to investigate a basic income.

Douglas Maclaine-Cross, a Sydney-based software engineer who will be attending the meeting, remarks:

I’m just looking forward to the meeting, and getting an idea for how much support there is for it. Finding out if there are any concerns from people I’m not yet aware of. The prospect of finally having a way of solving out-of-control inequality, that people can rally behind has given me hope.

There are some additional signs that interest in UBI is increasing throughout Australia. In June, for instance, a Productivity Commission of the Australian Government released a research paper on “digital disruption” in which UBI was brought up as a potential solution to economic disruption caused by technological change. The Australian Pirate Party has endorsed a basic income (in the form of a negative income tax), also in June of this year, and one of the newest books in Palgrave Macmillan’s Exploring the Basic Income Guarantee series contains essays concerning the implementation of a UBI in Australia.

For more information about the event on September 9, see the website of the Australian Fabians.

Photo CC BY-NC 2.0 Emmett Anderson

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