7 May 2020

John Quiggin calls for a ‘Participation Income’ (similar to a UBI) and a Jobs Guarantee as the foundation of a post-Covid reform agenda: “The ideal response would be to use the JobSeeker and JobKeeper schemes as the basis for a fundamental transformation in our approach to work and welfare. JobSeeker could become the basis of a ‘participation income,’ set at a liveable level (say, equal to the age pension) and available to anyone with no market income and a willingness to contribute to the community, whether through job search, full-time study, volunteer work, or caring for children or disabled or elderly relatives. JobKeeper could be the starting point for a renewal of the commitment to full employment that was a central feature of the decades of widely shared prosperity after the second world war. In the absence of continued support from the federal government, neither the Reserve Bank of Australia nor the business sector has the capacity to prevent sustained high unemployment, even after lockdown restrictions are relaxed. If we truly want reform, we should not trawl through the remains of the neoliberal agenda of the late twentieth century. Rather, we should aim to achieve a positive transformation of our society and economy, and end this crisis better than we started it.”