Young Australians should be given a grant funded by an inheritance tax on wealthy estates to help them enter the housing market, pay university fees or start a business, argues Tim Ayres, NSW secretary of the left wing Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union.
He raised the idea in a speech to the Fabian Society about inequality and connecting with voters amid the rise of populist politicians like Pauline Hanson and Donald Trump, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
In the speech due to be given on Wednesday night, Mr Ayres – a member of the ALP national executive – offers support for French economist Thomas Pikkety's proposal for an inheritance tax "to fund a one-off capital grant for every citizen at the age of 25".
He quotes Community Council for Australia figures that say if four per cent of the 25,000 families with assets of $10 million paid a 35 per cent duty it would raise $3.5 billion "while affecting only a fraction of the top 1 per cent of Australians".
"A capital grant to young Australians would give millions of young Australians a future: they can put it to a house, they can start their own business, they can pay off their university fees," Mr Ayres says.
"A universal inheritance tax may be bold, but 2016 has taught us that business as usual isn't going to cut it and politics as usual doesn't offer the scale of policy that is required to genuinely tackle regional and intergenerational inequality."
Inheritance or death taxes are in place in countries including Britain and the US but a recognised flaw is that people may transfer wealth before their death to avoid the duty.
In his speech Mr Ayres warns of the limited appeal of progressive politics to blue collar communities, particularly in regional areas where jobs have dried up and living standards have fallen.
Death tax grants would 'give young Australians a future', union secretary says (Sydney Morning Herald)