Imagine an Australia where every citizen is paid a tax-free sustenance payment to live. It may sound like a Utopian dream but according to Griffith University student Myles Bayliss, it’s not so far-fetched.
“The idea of a Universal Basic Income has existed in various forms for hundreds of years,’’ he says.
“Currently several countries including Canada and Finland are running UBI experiments as well as other countries such as the Netherlands which is planning to begin trials.”
Indeed Myles, who is in his final year of a Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Commerce degree, and passionate about the topic, has been awarded The Law Council of Australia’s 2017 Forsyth/Pose Scholarship for his paper entitled “Universal Basic Income: The Potential Impact on the Australian Tax System”.
He writes that a UBI can offer realisable benefits to the individual, government and nation as a whole, and possibly complement Australia’s tax system.
While acknowledging that UBI policies can vary greatly in structure, his paper outlines the potential positive impacts a UBI could have on the Australian tax system, its impact on reducing the strain on welfare and addressing issues in income inequality and labour market changes.
“Right now I don’t think there is the need or resources to properly implement a UBI, but I think it will be needed quite soon. Until then it would be quite wise to adopt UBI concepts in our welfare system to ease the transition,’’ Myles says.
“When I found I’d won the prize I was shocked. It’s really quite amazing – I didn’t think I’d win on my first attempt. It’s a great way to start 2018.”
Myles has edited the Griffith Journal of Law and Human Dignity since 2016 so has had plenty of practice in academic writing and editing.
Lecturer and mentor Associate Professor Brett Freudenberg says the scholarship is recognition of Myles’ research and writing.
“Especially tackling a topic that makes us re-consider how the tax system could operate between the government and its citizens,’’ he said.
Myles has wanted to be a lawyer since secondary school where he was inspired by the US TV program Law and Order.
“I was also inspired to come to Griffith and study law because of the Innocence Project and the story of Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter,” he says.
“I decided to study a double degree to increase my career prospects and commerce seemed to be the most suited to my interests and with the most flexibility.
“I really enjoy studying at Griffith, there’s many great teachers and lots of opportunities including mooting.”
Myles’s team came second in the 2017 UQ International Law Society Arbitration Moot and he’s now preparing for the 2018 Wilhelm C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot in Hong Kong.
The Forsyth/Pose Scholarship is offered by the Business Law Section of the Law Council of Australia. It was offered for the first time in 2013 and commemorates Neil Forsyth QC and Kevin Pose who were leading taxation law practitioners.