“Could we have four, five, six (welfare) payments rather than the dozens we’ve got at the present time?”
The question was posed by the Social Services Minister, Kevin Andrews, at the national conference of the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) in Brisbane in June.
Of course we could, Minister. A Basic Income system has just one. Another book on how it could apply in Australia has just been published:
The fact that the government wants to simplify the system is surely a step in the right direction. It has asked its independent review of the welfare system to come up with “understood, reasonable principles but constructed in a simple way.”
What the government considers to be “reasonable principles” will be the crux of the matter. Don’t be surprised if the Number One “reasonable” Principle is that the welfare system should be designed to force everyone to work, regardless of who they are, where they are, how old they are or whether or not there is any work to be had.
Another will surely be that the system has to cost less than it does already.
One can only hope that the welfare review headed by the former head of Mission Australia, Patrick McClure, started with the basic question: Why do we have a welfare system at all?