The NSW Greens will introduce a universal basic income trial in South Nowra if elected, which would allow every working age adult in the area to receive $700 a fortnight, regardless of how much they earn.
The universal basic income (UBI) trial was announced in Nowra on Thursday, by Greens MP David Shoebridge and Greens candidates for Kiama and South Coast Nina Digiglio and Kim Stephenson.
The trio said the purpose of the $55 million trial was to tackle inequality, to give people economic security and to fairly share the country’s wealth.
The trial would roll out over three years, based on other studies done in countries like Canada and Finland, serving about 800 people in the South Nowra area, no matter what their income.
“A UBI is genuinely universal and it does away with harmful and wasteful programs like ParentsNext, work- for-the-dole and RoboDebt calls from Centrelink," Mr Shoebridge said.
Mr Shoebridge said anyone, whether they were in or out of work, or whether they earned $2 million a year, would still have access to the fortnightly payment, which will not be means tested.
"International studies have shown the best way to make a basic income work is to make it universal," he said.
"Indeed the tiny proportion of this payment that goes to people who are wealthy is more than made up for by the vast bulk of the payment that goes to people who are struggling and in real need."
The Greens said one of the purposes of the UBI was to move people away from Centrelink payments, like Newstart Allowance, which they titled "demoralising". People on Newstart Allowance must actively be looking for work, and show proof of that, to receive their fortnightly payments. Mr Shoebridge argued that people should not have to meet job search commitments to get their payments, and denied the UBI handouts would promote unemployment and instead said it would be a "job creator."
"A universal payment gets rid of the over arching apparatus of Centrelink. It stops bureaucratic monstering of people for being poor," he said. "A UBI is a jobs creator, it will inject some $55 million into South Nowra and into the regional economy."
The crux of Mr Shoebridge's argument around the benefits of UBI, was that people would no longer need to deal with Centrelink. To receive a Centrelink payment, a person must supply lengthy documentation and fill out multiple forms to ensure they are eligible for a payment, and are not rorting the system.
"Getting rid of the surveillance associated with organisations like Centrelink is a major economic benefit, a major psycho-social benefit and ultimately a community benefit. Nobody really benefits from the millions of hours spent by Centrelink officers to police the poorest in our society," he said.
"Nobody benefits form the 1.6 million breaches Centrelink did to the poorest Australian in the last 12 months. But everyone will benefit from a universal income."
The Greens said Nowra was chosen to host the trial as it is a regional centre with sufficient geographic distance from a major capital city. This allows for a more controlled study than would otherwise be available in a broader metropolitan area.