Is $200/week Enough To Buy The Under 23 Vote In The Election?

The Opportunities Party (TOP) last week extended its Universal Basic Income (UBI) policy to all New Zealanders aged between 18-23.

Set at $200 per week (after tax), the youth UBI is “designed to give all young New Zealanders a safety net of income to allow them to pursue their dreams,” according to a TOP press release.

Originally planned to be only for over 65s and families with children under 3, government budget surpluses have allowed an extension to what TOP considers to be “one of the most needy and neglected groups in society possible”.

The press release states that the National Party’s ‘across the board’ tax cuts, “must be abandoned in the interests of supporting a group who struggle with the highest suicide rate in the OECD and the pressures of ongoing intergenerational inequity”.

The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) President Jonathan Gee said that it is a policy that the association has long called for, considering it to be a “step in the right direction”.

He continued: “In this important election year, politicians need to speak to the lived realities of young people, and allow for their issues to be brought up into the political system.”

The policy would not require means-testing or any level of employment or drug-testing to qualify for the handout, and NZUSA welcomes such policies that look toward universality.

Gee was clear that, though this policy is a start, political parties, “must acknowledge the rising living costs faced by students and young people and also speak to their lived experiences.”

The party has been faring well in the polls recently, coming in above all of the government’s support partners and leading amongst all minor parties too, with 0.8 percent.

The Maori Party polled 0.7 percent, while ACT and United Feature split TOP’s total, with 0.4 percent between them. Considering they formed less than eight months ago, the position they find themselves in is both impressive and surprising.

This article first appeared in Issue 16, 2017.
Posted 10:43am Sunday 23rd July 2017 by Joe Higham.