Church leaders in Australia worried about Howard Industrial Relations changes



Christian church leaders have requested a meeting with Prime Minister John Howard to express concerns about the Federal Government's workplace relations changes.

Australian Associated Press reports that the National Council of Churches (NCCA), which includes leaders of the Catholic, Anglican, and Uniting churches, as well as 12 other national church groupings, say they are concerned about the impact on workers and want to meet the Prime Minister.

"We are uneasy about the bottom line in all this," said NCCA general secretary Rev John Henderson (pictured). "If this is about Australia remaining competitive as a nation, as Mr Howard has said, then it should not be achieved at the expense of Australian workers and their families.

"The value of each worker is not as a commodity, but as a person, a human being, loved by God. Our community has values that are more important than economics."

The council called on the Federal Government to "slow down and step back from its apparent haste".

"To rush into this would be to risk a disaster for everyone," Mr Henderson said.


LHMU 11 July 2005

The new leader of Australia's 4 million Anglicans has warned Prime Minister Howard that the churches would not be silenced on industrial relations changes.

Dr Phillip Aspinall, the Archbishop of Brisbane, elected on the weekend to lead the church in Australia, told the media he did not rule out taking more direct action on industrial relations reforms.

Archbishop Phillip Aspinall said Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews was wrong to insist that religious leaders withdraw from the debate.

Church won't be silenced on workplace issues
"I don't agree with the minister when he says we should butt out," Dr Aspinall told the media.

The church, he said, had a "voice that ought to be heard".

"The key principle the church would want to defend is proper protection for the weakest and most vulnerable in our community."

Unfair dismissal laws deeply unjust

The Archbishop said he was worried the proposed unfair dismissal laws would lead to deep injustice in the workplace.

"The purpose of unfair dismissal laws is to prevent unfair dismissals.

"If the change means we're going to allow unfair dismissals - that is, expose vulnerable people to unfairness - that is a real concern, not only to the churches but the whole community," Dr Aspinall is quoted as telling The Australian.

In his first interview as Anglican primate Dr Aspinall said the church had a right to defend " proper protection for the weakest and most vulnerable in the community", provided church leaders were properly briefed.

Ready to join picket lines

Asked if he would take to the picket lines, Dr Aspinall said: "I think members of churches do have to be prepared to stand up for deeply held values. And that sort of thing does happen from time to time."

During the 1980s several clergymen were arrested while manning picket lines with sacked striking Queensland power workers.

Our community has values more important than economics, say churches

Dr Aspinall's statement about his attitude to the new workplace laws follows similar attacks on Mr Howard's plans from other prominent church figures, over the last two weeks, including the leader of the Australian Catholics Cardinal Pell.

The National Council of Churches of Australia, representing 15 Christian denominations, has also protested the changes, fearing a decline in minimum wages and conditions.

Council general secretary the Reverend John Henderson said recently: "The value of each worker is not as a commodity but as a person, a human being, loved by God. Our community has values that are more important than economics."


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This page was last updated Thu Jul 14 17:35:18 2005 Pacific time