Senate debates

Monday, 14 October 2019

Matters of Public Importance

Girls Takeover Parliament

4:35 pm

Photo of Nick McKimNick McKim (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

As part of Girls Takeover Parliament, it's been my pleasure to host Breanna Boljkovac today in my office. She is a fantastic, intelligent 21-year-old Canberran who wanted me to take the chance, firstly, in this very brief speech to say that we need to change our attitudes towards work in this country. Breanna listens to the Prime Minister saying that the best form of welfare is a job, and Breanna would respond to that by saying, 'Actually, no: the best form of welfare is a universal basic income.' She asks the really challenging questions, and I'll just give you a couple. What is raising a child, if not work? What is studying, if not work? And Breanna says, in part in response to those questions, that we need a universal basic income to protect people from accepting exploitative employment. We need a universal basic income because we have a tsunami of automation coming our way, predicted in just 2022, which will obliterate jobs. Breanna reminds us all that the main architect of trickle-down economics and free-market capitalism, both of which are so beloved of the Liberal-Nationals parties—and she's talking of course about Milton Friedman—stated that such an economic system as free-market capitalism cannot exist, firstly, outside an ethical construct and, secondly, without a universal basic income. Well, I couldn't agree more with Breanna on those matters.

She also asked me to share a couple of her thoughts about climate change this afternoon: firstly, Breanna's view that the root cause of the climate crisis—or should we say 'climate denial', in Breanna's words—and refusal to steward with our environment is a dysfunctional and ancient idea about human nature. She's a very intelligent person, Breanna. She asked me to make the point here that that dysfunctional ancient idea about human nature is that humans are here to conquer nature, and that is a mistake. Breanna quite rightly wants us to understand that humans are part of nature and she's worried about profits being put before people and before nature. Breanna urges us to adopt a multidimensional approach, a holistic approach—an approach where we understand that an amoral economic system will always lead to immoral consequences. Hear, hear, Breanna!


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