Closing the gap with an Australia Card

Many right-thinking people in this country would be concerned with the lack of equality of its citizens.

Every adult in Australia should be entitled to the basic necessities of life.

This would be access to housing, nutrition, health care, education and life opportunities.

Gender should not be a means of discrimination, nor should skin colour.

The contribution that people make is conditioned by their upbringing and education.

The attitude and behaviour of people is linked with their early life and should not be a ground for judgment.

The health of the nation as evidenced by the incidence of obesity and diabetes requires more attention.

I am concerned with the lack of equality in this country.

The widening gap between the rich and poor is unsustainable.

No one should be at a disadvantage because of the way they were brought up.

Every government has an unwritten mandate to look after its citizens; governments up to the present time have operated a laissez faire society.

This is not the way of the future, as witnessed by the loss of work due to automation and increased use of smart phones and computers.

The solution to this state of affairs would be to issue every adult with an Australia Card that had a value allowing everyone to live above the poverty line.

At this time it would be at least $30,000 pa (i.e. $577/week) tax free and adjusted for CPI.

It would be adjusted in the budget each year and would cover the necessities of living, rent, transport, food, clothing, etc. but could not be spent on alcohol, tobacco, drugs and gambling.

The card could not be cashed. Any unspent amount would accumulate.

It would allow the wealth of the country to be more equally distributed to Australians.

The actual amount of the card could well be higher than the amount suggested. In any case its value would reflect the wealth of the nation in any given year.

The Australia Card should not be given to those with dual citizenship or those with a foreign passport; only to those with sole allegiance to Australia.

To improve equality would also require lifting the lower incomes and limit the top levels with a cap on executive income and bonuses.

Those on high salaries and therefore with a higher stake in the country would pay higher taxes.

In a democracy with no corruption, as I think exists in Australia, no one should live in poverty or be homeless.

The taxation system would have to be reviewed and company tax adjusted. Employers would add a margin to a comfortable level depending on the value of the employee to the company.

Margins could not take into account the amount a partner had received. The mother of children would continue to receive a “baby bonus”.

Government would be simplified; a large section of Centre Link would not be needed, unless they administered the system, a shorter working week could be possible allowing more employment.

With the margin paid to the employed partner, couples would be more independent, there would be less domestic violence because the woman would be more independent.

Couples might find it easier to get into the housing market.

There are many aspects that are impossible to cover here. For example, the card for anyone in custody would be used to contribute to their upkeep, but they would have it returned on release. A similar approach could be adopted in public hospitals the patient would contribute towards their accommodation.

The government would top up payments to veterans and adjust the allowance to the disabled and any special cases. Aged care centres would take over the value of the card. Nothing can be said about superannuation at this point as for many other aspects of how the economy would be adjusted.

The Australia Card would have a PIN and possibly a DNA reference. It would be a security safeguard. It would benefit the economy.

The idea of an Australia Card is not new. A debit card of the type suggested has been used by this government in special cases, namely an Aboriginal group some time ago and recently some disadvantaged Australians.

John McLennan PhD is a retired lecturer from the University of Newcastle.

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