Legalised cannabis, People's Bank, UBI: big ideas to upend the status quo | Australian Greens

Legalised cannabis, People's Bank, UBI: big ideas to upend the status quo

The Greens have always been about upending the status quo. Richard Di Natale recaps three exciting, progressive policies the Greens recently introduced into the national debate.

By Senator Richard Di Natale
Friday, April 20, 2018

I see it all the time inside Parliament House: the Liberals and Labor voting together to protect the interests of their corporate backers. Meanwhile, our communities are becoming more and more sharply divided thanks to skyrocketing corporate profits and flat-lining wage growth.

Nothing upsets the old parties and the vested interests that prop them up more than ideas that threaten the power they cling to. But that’s precisely what the Greens have always been about: upending the status quo and leading the debate.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve introduced several big ideas into the national debate. Here’s a recap on three exciting, progressive policies.

Legalised cannabis for adult use

The war on drugs has failed. The reality, which the old political parties continue to ignore, is that Australians choose to use cannabis. Thirty-five percent of us have tried it or used it socially but, unfortunately, this choice could get you a criminal record just for having a small amount of weed in your possession.

This ‘tough on drugs’ approach causes enormous harm. It drives people away from getting help when they need it and exposes them to a dangerous black market.

From Uruguay to Spain, New Zealand to the United States, countries all around the world are realising that prohibition causes more harm than it prevents, and are moving to develop a regulated legal market. It’s time we joined them.

The Greens see drug use as a health issue, not a criminal issue. Our campaign to legalise cannabis use would regulate and tax cannabis use to reduce harm, increase protection for vulnerable people, and break the business model of criminal gangs.

To support this new campaign, go to www.drugs.org.au

People’s Bank

Australia’s financial sector is defined by the power of the big four banks, the money they make off housing loans and their billion dollar annual profits to shareholders. In the face of ongoing misconduct and price gouging, it’s time for the government to step in and ensure there is a low-cost banking service, backed by the RBA, that is focused on the everyday savings and mortgage needs of customers. To inject real competition, create jobs, and focus on homebuyers, not shareholders.

Imagine a bank whose real goal was to serve its customers, not line its shareholders’ pockets. The Greens will use the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) to establish a People’s Bank to provide basic low-risk banking services to the public.

At the People’s Bank, everyday Australians would be able to establish accounts directly with the RBA for day-to-day banking facilities. Customer service would be provided online, by telephone, or face-to-face through Australia Post and other partners. Everyday banking for public good, not profit margins!

Products provided to the public by the People’s Bank would be:

  • Savings accounts pegged to the RBA cash rate, with debit cards linked to these accounts also available.
  • Mortgage tracker accounts pegged to the RBA cash rate (see further detail below). People banking with the People’s Bank can also have confidence that their savings won’t be used for inappropriate investments, such as new coalmines.

Universal Basic Income

The future of work is changing. Our current social safety net is outdated, and does not properly support those experiencing underemployment, insecure work and uncertain hours. A modern, flexible and responsive system would increase people’s resilience, not marginalise them, and enable them to make a greater contribution to our community and our economy. That’s why we need a Universal Basic Income (UBI).

A Universal Basic Income ensures everyone has access to a basic level of income, as well as access to universal social services. That is the foundation of a decent, caring society.

A UBI is a bold move towards equality and epitomises a government that looks after its citizens in a rapidly changing world – in contrast to the old parties who say, “just look after yourselves”.