Bishop Christopher Saunders, Chair of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, says that the dignity of work is found in its capacity “for individual and family fulfilment, for building up the community and for securing the wellbeing of future generations”. In his 2015 Pastoral Letter for the Feast of St Joseph the Worker he stresses that “Society fails its citizens at these three levels where the economy does not generate sufficient employment and when government does not adequately intervene to promote job creation and maintain basic wages and income support.”
Bishop Saunders critiques the Australian government’s economic policies on a number of fronts. He argues that a person-centred economy would seek to build up vibrant communities rather than refusing to provide basic services for remote Indigenous communities, effectively shutting them down and pushing people off their ancestral lands because they are ‘economically unviable’. He questions the emphasis on keeping older workers in the workforce longer while at the same time failing to provide training and opportunities to gain experience for young people. Bishop Saunders points to the inadequacy of the social safety net, and of unemployment benefits in particular. He rejects the government’s emphasis on reducing social security expenditures and calls instead for greater attention to tax concessions – such as those on superannuation – that overwhelmingly benefit the wealthiest, and the failure to effectively tax corporations shifting profits offshore.
Read the Pastoral Letter here.