Australian bishops’ conference calls for minimum wage hike

Canberra, Australia, Mar 18, 2019 / 05:01 pm (CNA).- The Catholic Church in Australia is calling for an increase to the minimum wage in the country, saying that it will help lift families out of poverty.

Megan Kavanagh, a member of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Employment Relations Reference Group, said in a March 17 statement that Australian tradition going back to what is known as the Harvester Case of 1907 dictates that full-time employees with dependents should be able to support themselves without falling into poverty.

“The current level of the minimum wage falls far short of the objective identified and set by Harvester in a much less prosperous Australia 112 years ago,” Kavanagh said.

The Church is calling on the Fair Work Commission to step up, arguing that it has not done enough to support hundreds of thousands of families who are suffering from low wages, as well as children who are living in poverty.

Current minimum wage in Australia is $18.93 per hour. The Austrlaian Catholic Bishops Conference is calling in its submission to the Fair Work Commission for the wage to be raised to $20 per hour.

Kavanagh said this would be an important first step in resolving economic problems facing working families.

She noted that the value of the minimum wage in Australia has declined relative to national wages in the last 20 years.

“The Fair Work Commission last year found that the minimum wage provided a reasonable income for a single adult without family responsibilities,” she said. “In other words, what was an inadequate wage for a family two decades ago has become a reasonable wage for a single adult without family responsibilities. That is simply unacceptable.”

The government should address the poor living standards of people in low-wage jobs, either by increasing minimum wage or offering more government assistance, stressed Joe Zabar, director of economic policy at Catholic Social Services Australia.

He warned that policy moves such as freezing or reducing Family Tax Benefits in recent years have only served to prevent families from achieving living wages.


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1 Comment

  1. A minimum wage set by the State is a bad idea to begin with and the fact that the Australian Bishops are calling for an increase seems to be a sign of their misplaced priorities, which ought to be on evangelization in such a secularized country. When I lived in Australia in the late nineties, I never met any poor people nor did I find any tenement housing or other signs of poverty. Of course, since then the price of housing has skyrocketed. This problem arises from housing bubbles, and fractional reserve banking so that people have to enslave themselves to the banks in order to get a place to live in and continue such enslavement for some 40 years. Governments are part of this problem as the higher the price of housing the more they get in tax income. Once can hardly believe that there is insufficient land for building in Australia, in the U.S. and many other countries.
    The minimum wage tends to increase the percentage of youth unemployment as those who may be able to hire unskilled workers don’t due to such a minimum wage and other taxes on employment. Maybe the bishops could support some form of apprenticeships, something that traditionally existed by means of the guilds. Instead of more State involvement, what is needed, among other things, is to get the dictatorial Nanny State out of many areas which it controls and makes a mess of. Why should there be so much tax on the creation of jobs? Mainly to finance the Welfare State, which in my opinion should be dismantled and people should be taught to be responsible, to save and freely look after themselves, the State, having only a subsidiary role as the Church’s Social Teaching rightly holds. For that of course, people ought to be able to save and receive a decent interest on their savings. When I was in Australia, one could get 6% p.a. interest on a term deposit guaranteed. These days, one would be luck to get 0.25% which is what one gets in the European Union.

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