Fair Pay Commission

14 October 2005

The President of the Uniting Church, the Reverend Dr. Dean Drayton today cautioned against the apparent religious politicisation surrounding the appointment of the Chair of the new Fair Pay Commission.

"It appears the Prime Minister is disturbed by the questions that religious leaders are asking. While Churches are being urged to applaud the appointment of someone of deep religious convictions to this position, the Uniting Church is concerned that the Prime Minister has bound the Chair's hands with the very mandate of the Fair Pay Commission. It is not the person that is important but the policy which is the central issue in this debate.

"It is our fundamental concern that this new system is creating an uneven playing field for those who have to bargain from a position of weakness. The Fair Pay Commission's mandate is geared towards keeping wages low rather than assessing the minimum wage according to what workers need to live a decent life.

"Christians are called to challenge, in word and deed, systems and structures that breed hate, greed, oppression, poverty, injustice and fear. Anything less than this is a watered down expression of our faith. The Fair Pay Commission will be tasked with putting economic prosperity and wealth ahead of the needs of people.

"We are concerned individuals will be considered commodities in the service of greater profits and left open to exploitation. There is more to being human than simply being a piece in the economic jigsaw puzzle."

Rev. Drayton said the appointment ahead of the release of the legislation and its passage through Parliament appeared to exploit the Coalition's Senate majority.

"This is significant legislation that will affect the shape and character of Australian society for generations to come. It deserves more than a fleeting public debate followed by a hasty passage through Parliament.

"We will always be more concerned with the upholding of democratic principles, human rights and policies which support the most vulnerable, than the particular religious affiliation of the individuals charged with supporting and enacting those principles and policies," Rev. Drayton said.