Bush bishop urges new deal for rural Australia
Australia needs a change of heart if it is to redress the disadvantage faced by rural, remote and isolated Australia, according to Bishop Eugene Hurley of Port Pirie.
The Southern Cross reports that Bishop Hurley, whose diocese covers about one million square kilometres of South Australia, shares with other rural dioceses what he calls "the tragic devastation of rural communities".
"If profit is our only motive then we will discount the value of social capital," Bishop Hurley said.
Losing basic infrastructures like schools, banks and commercial operations which allowed communities to exist and grow was like taking the heart out of them, Bishop Hurley said.
Bishop Hurley was speaking in the wake of the recent release of the Australian Catholic Bishops' 2001 Social Justice Statement which warns that the trend towards centralisation and privatisation of services in the bush is detrimental to Australian society.
Bishop Hurley said: "I think governments have a duty to support the common good. The common good is both economic and social and I think we have put too much emphasis on the economic common good, if you like, to the detriment of the social common good."
A Just and Peaceful Land: Rural and Regional Australia in 2001 (PDF)