Melbourne Archbishop coordinating IR response

Melbourne's Archbishop Denis Hart has sought to protect Church agencies from manipulation by lobby groups working to gain Church support for their position on the Federal Govenemnt's industrial relations reforms.

In a memo to agencies of the Archdiocese published in today's Online Catholics, Archbishop Hart points out that the reforms proposed by the Federal Government are "engendering consideralbe debate", and advocates "have been publicly seeking the support of churches and community groups for their positions".

In order to avoid the Church being used as "a pawn in this debate" and to ensure the views expressed are "consistent and made after full consideration of all issues", Archbishop Hart has directed that statements and comments on the proposed industrial relations legislation should be cleared by him prior to their release.

The memo was directed to a range of agencies based in the Archdiocese that includes the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria, Catholic Social Services Victoria, Catholic Youth Ministry, Centacare, and the Commission for Justice Development and Peace.

Online Catholics could not make contact with Archbishop Hart or Vicar General Monsignor Les Tominson, but one agency representative contacted expressed the fear that their task of public advocacy would be made more difficult by the directive.

Neither Archbishop Hart nor any Catholic agency in Melbourne has made a public statement about the IR reforms. The Australian Catholic Commission for Employment Relations is based in Melbourne, but it is a national body and therefore not part of Archbishop Hart's coordinated response. It has made comments in recent months, as has Cardinal George Pell of Sydney and a small number of other Church respresentatives.

In the same article, Online Catholics reported that Unions NSW president John Robertson last month sought and gained a meeting with the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal Pell, to solicit his support in the union's fight against the IR legislation. Online Catholics sources said that the Cardinal was prepared to give support for the maintenance of the minimum wage but would not give his support for any wider union campaign.

Hart silences Church Agencies (Online Catholics 3/8/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Archdiocese of Melbourne | Agencies and Organisations
Australian Catholic Commission for Employment Relations

Minister tells churches to stay out of IR fight (CathNews 11/7/05)
Pell voices wages concerns (CathNews 4/7/05)
Canberra bishop speaks out on job insecurity fears (CathNews 1/7/04)
Church leaders worried about Howard IR changes (CathNews 29/6/05)
Bishop hits back at Minister's claims on IR reforms 1/6/05)
Catholic body seeks meeting with Minister over workplace laws (CathNews 30/5/05)

ACCER Letter to the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations (Australian Catholic Commission for Employment Relations July 2005)

3 Aug 2005