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City Voice/Scoop Forum Report: Universal Income

LABOUR'S Wellington Central candidate, Marian Hobbs, says she is keen to see further work done on the idea of paying everyone a universal living allowance.

She told the chair of the Wellington Volunteer Centre, Roger Tweedy, at a City Voice employment forum on 28 Oct that "an extraordinary amount" of work was being done by people who did not get paid for it.

"It's not in the policy, but there are people discussing the whole question of a universal allowance quite seriously - a universal allowance to live and support each other," she said.

"I want to keep going down that line. It's a personal thing for me."

Labour would set up a "FutureWork Unit" to:
oDevelop and disseminate information on the reform of working time
oPromote the value of changes to working arrangements
oAct as consultants to businesses wanting to explore ways of reorganising work time; and have a small fund to support innovations in workplace organisation.

The unit would explore issues such as four-day weeks, nine-day fortnights, shorter working hours, family-friendly workplaces, flexible working hours, job sharing, childcare, innovations in income support, and employee ownership and cooperatives.

The Greens' Rimutaka candidate, Don Murray, said work included not just that which is now paid for but "looking after each other, raising kids, caring for the community".

"Jobs are where you structure things so that people are able to work and the system is able to support people who want to help people," he said.

However, National list MP Annabel Young said Labour and Alliance policies announced so far would destroy 20,000 jobs through higher taxes.

"One thing that is very clear in this election is that the Labour Party will impose huge costs on the economy, and those will flow through to the employment market," she said.

"Businesses create jobs, not governments. The actions of governments are more likely to destroy jobs than create them."

She said governments could help by ensuring that unemployed people developed the skills required to get jobs.

"Whether they have jobs that they like, I actually don't care," she said.

"Not everyone loves their job, but people like to be in a job."

Act's Ohariu-Belmont candidate, Kathryn Asare, said one reason National's tax cuts had failed to produce enough jobs was that the cuts had come mainly off the middle tax bracket instead of the top bracket.

"Cutting the top rate of tax frees up investment - that is the money that can be invested to create jobs," she said.

Act would cut both the middle and top tax rates to a flat 20%.

But Alliance candidate Phillida Bunkle advocated raising the tax rates to between 39% and 47% on people earning over $60,000 a year to pay for policies such as an economic development fund to make grants and loans to new businesses.

- first published City Voice Newspaper out today!

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