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Income maintenance in Australia: The income guarantee alternative

Tomlinson, John Richard (1989) Income maintenance in Australia: The income guarantee alternative. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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By the beginning of the 20th century, Australia was commonly acknowledged to be amongst the world leaders in the supply of social provisions to its citizens. However. Australia gradually lost ground in this arena compared with other developed countries. The election of the Whitlam Labor Government in 1972 presented Australia with the first reform oriented government since the end of the Second World War: a considerable number of suggestions were put forward to extend and improve social welfare programs.

This study investigates those suggestions which dealt with the development of more comprehensive income maintenance programs. It looks, in particular, at the proposal made by the Poverty Inquiry to introduce a Guaranteed Minimum Income - and examines why it (or a similar scheme) was not implemented and what, if any, ideological obstacles to its introduction remain relevant in the last part of this century. But before that can be done, it is necessary to examine the existing system of income maintenance, its structure, the mechanisms which create that structure, and to ascertain what makes the present system of income maintenance attractive to many people.

Attitudes to work, the family and the way social need is viewed affect the public's preparedness to support welfare initiatives; these attitudes are considered preliminary to an examination of a number of generalised income guarantee proposals. The history of income guarantee schemes suggested in Britain, the United States of America and Australia is provided as a backdrop against which the ideological debates which such proposals evoked are assessed.

The analysis of the ideological obstacles to income guarantees in Australia reveals the impediments embedded in the existing system of income maintenance and shows that these are not contained within the central tenets of Marxism, liberalism or social democracy. They are to be found associated with conservatism and discrimination based on gender, age, race, and locality.

Before proceeding to estimate the likely response of either the Labor or Liberal Parties to income guarantees, the study establishes that there is no inherent incompatibility between the Australian mode of production and such guarantees. An examination of the Labor and Liberal Parties' social welfare platforms, their philosophical traditions, and spokespersons· pronouncements suggests that it would be possible for either Party to implement a form of income guarantee.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Social Inquiry
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Baldock, Cora
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