Media Release: St Joseph The Worker Pastoral Letter

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29th April 2010, 09:00am - Views: 943

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NSW 2015

Tel:  +61 (0) 2 8306

3499    Fax:  +61 (0) 2 8306


29 April 2010


Australia Fair? A nation at the crossroads

Australia is at the crossroads according to the Chairman of the Australian

Catholic Social Justice Council, Bishop Christopher Saunders, who has

issued a Pastoral Letter for the Feast of St Joseph the Worker (1 May).

Comparing the circumstances of the richest and poorest Australians following

the global financial crisis, he says, ‘How we respond to the needs of the

poorest individuals and families will characterise the spirit of this nation.

‘Over the past decade, minimum wages have fallen further behind average

weekly earnings. Safety net wages, even when supplemented by family

benefits, have not prevented families falling into poverty or coming close to it.

‘In 2009, the Australian Fair Pay Commission imposed a wage freeze on 1.6

million safety net workers with the aim of preventing job loss and promoting

economic recovery. This burden has not been carried proportionally by the

average income earner, and still less by those at the highest levels of the

wealth spectrum.

‘While the lowest paid workers endure a pay freeze for the sake of Australia’s

economic interests, the Productivity Commission recently dismissed

suggestions of pay caps or reduced tax concessions on executive

remuneration on the grounds that this “could damage our national economic

interests”’, Bishop Saunders said.

Drawing on Pope Benedict XVI’s Encyclical, ‘Charity in Truth’, the Bishop

highlights the need for long-term development with adequate protections for

low paid and unemployed workers.

‘Equity and justice must be built into the operation of the market and not

remain just an afterthought. The market must not be a place where the strong

subdue the weak. The minimum wage decision that Fair Work Australia

makes in June will be a critical test of this nation’s fairness,’ Bishop Saunders


The Pastoral Letter can be downloaded at:

For further information:

Bishop Christopher Saunders

Chairman, ACSJC

Tel: 0418 260 155

John Ferguson

National Executive Officer, ACSJC

Tel: 02 8306 3499

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