Howard's IR laws "immoral": Manning

Religious leaders are pushing for more organised dealings with the federal government, as John Howard and Kevin Rudd court the Christian vote.

The Bulletin magazine, reported some key church leaders want a more formal level of input with Canberra, such as regular meetings between religious and political leaders.

The plan for interfaith meetings could include Jews, Muslims and other religions and is backed by the Catholic Archbishop of Adelaide, Philip Wilson, and Hillsong Church pastor Brian Houston.

The report said Australia's religious leaders remain concerned about the impact of the government's Work Choices industrial laws.

Kevin Manning, the Catholic bishop of Parramatta, said the laws were immoral.

"I started work 50 years ago as a 14-year-old working in a grocery store. I had no rights whatsoever; you did exactly what the boss told you to do, you worked overtime (and) you got no pay for it," Bishop Manning said.

"This bill is taking us right back to then. I think we have every right (to speak out) because the whole thing is immoral."

Bishop Manning described as "idiotic" Mr Howard's dismissal of his criticisms of Work Choices in parliament last year, when the prime minister urged MPs to ignore the clergy on the issue.

"I still think workplace relations is going to be a major focus," Bishop Manning said.

"It's hitting people right where they're most vulnerable, people who are trying to raise families, buy a home, set up a decent standard of living."

Church leaders want more political input, SMH October 9, 2007

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Parramatta Diocese

Govt "canonised" economy, Manning claims
Bishop Manning challenges employment relations law

10 Oct 2007