The Church has urged government and business to address “the growing inequality” in Australia by not allowing unfettered market forces to dictate wages, housing costs and power prices, The Australian reports.
The Social Justice Council of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference has identified an ethical failure in banking, huge increases in gas and electricity prices, negative gearing, foreign investment, tax breaks for the wealthy and losses of work protections as fuelling inequality in Australia despite 25 years of economic growth.
“We are a far richer nation than we were 25 years ago. Yet there are still too many among us for whom this wealth remains a dream,” the Church’s social justice statement, to be released today, will say.
The statement, “Everyone’s Business: Developing an inclusive and sustainable economy" is released ahead of the Social Justice Sunday, to be celebrated on September 24.
“Hundreds of thousands of people find themselves in poverty even though they have a job. Meanwhile, for those who depend on welfare payments, life has been made far harder.
“For many Australians, the spectre of homelessness is becoming too real. In major cities and towns the prospect of buying or even renting a home is moving out of reach, even for those with decent jobs. Emerging groups such as older Australians, particularly women, are at risk of becoming homeless.
“The problem for those who believe in a just society is that the benefits of more recent growth have been spread so unevenly.”
Although the bishops value “the freedom, creativity and productivity of well-regulated markets” and acknowledge the role of “business in helping lift billions of people out of poverty” they argue there must be more “inclusive” economic policies. “The circumstances of growing inequality as well as striking examples of the market failing the community as a whole do challenge the notion that the unregulated operation of the economy would benefit all,” they say.
They argue that competition policies without adequate regulation have meant excessive power has been placed in the hands of private interests leading to “public outrage about the huge price increases in gas and electricity” which risk many industries that supply jobs.
Bishops takes government and business to task on poverty gap (The Australian)
Social Justice Statement 2017-18 (ACSJC)
Developing an inclusive and sustainable economy (Aurora Magazine)