New Zealand could become one of the first developed countries to introduce a basic citizen’s wage, while scrapping benefits.
Labour leader Andrew Little hinted his party was considering the idea as a way to combat the “possibility of higher structural unemployment”, according to a report by The Independent.
Citizen’s income involves a basic, unconditional, fixed payment made to everyone in the country by the state in lieu of benefits.
Little says Labour will debate the idea at the back end of March.
“The question is whether you have an income support system that means every time you stop work you have to go through the palaver of stand-down periods, more bureaucracy, more form filling at the same time as you’re trying to get into your next job,” Little told Fairfax.
“We are keen to have that debate about whether the time has arrived for us to have a system that is seamless, easy to pass through, [with a] guaranteed basic income and [where] you can move in and out of work on a regular basis.”
“The debate does not mean the policy will be included in the party’s manifesto at the next general election,” The Independent reported Little as saying.
Finland and Norway are considering launching a similar debate, while Canada has already debated the issue.
Switzerland is due to hold a referendum on introducing a citizen’s income later this year.
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