The Brisbane Dialogues

The Brisbane Dialogues is Australia's first dedicated "civil discourse organisation", a wholly independent, non-aligned, intergenerational, not-for-profit project to stimulate and civilise public discussion about big ideas and issues.

7pm, Mon 20 Jul 2020. Doors open 6pm

The Tivoli, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane

In our second event, we intend to raise raised the bar for public discussion by conducting a genuine dialogue between experts with opposing perspectives, rather than an adversarial debate. The aim is was to seek enough common ground to explore issues collaboratively, defining differences and pointing to areas for further reflection and discussion, ideally suggesting possible trade-offs and solutions. There will was still be plenty of room for good-natured or at least civil disagreement!

We aim to move the discussion forward by taking UBI out of the largely conceptual realm and into a practical Australian context. Speakers have been selected for their expert knowledge, ability to communicate publicly and most importantly their interest and willingness to do something different, more difficult and hopefully better. They are:

  • Gigi Foster, Professor of Economics at University of NSW and co-host of "The Economists", ABC Radio National

  • Greg Marston, Deputy Executive Dean, Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Queensland and Australian representative, Basic Income Earth Network

  • John Humphreys, Economics Lecturer at University of the Sunshine Coast and University of Queensland and founder of the Australian Libertarian Society and Liberal Democrats party

  • Simon Cowan, Research Director, Centre for Independent Studies (by video message)


The discussion will be moderated by Bob MacDonald, a senior journalist and former government advisor and trade commissioner.  Mistress of Ceremonies will be Kayci Gillies, actress, graduate of the Aboriginal Centre for the Performing Arts and full time Creative Industries student at QUT.

The concept of universal basic income (UBI) is an idea whose time has come, for many; anathema to many others. UBI or its variants have had a strangely diverse appeal for a long time and have attracted renewed interest in the light of the large income support programs implemented recently. Many journalistic and academic articles are written, but there have been few actual public discussions in Australia. All or most of them have been something of a rehash of the same main arguments for and against.

Is UBI a substitute for existing welfare programs? Can or should it really be universal? What level of basic income is affordable? Who pays? How much? Why don't the major parties seem to pay it any attention?

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The Brisbane Dialogues - better discussions

"He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that." J.S. Mill