State church leader calls on the Federal Cabinet to introduce a wage subsidy guarantee immediately

The Uniting Church in Australia, Queensland Synod oversees congregations across the state, schools and Queensland’s largest community service agency, UnitingCare Queensland.

We are calling on the Federal Government to ensure wage continuity through an 80 per cent wage subsidy guarantee program to save business and jobs.

As Moderator of the Uniting Church in Australia, Queensland Synod, I believe that in a time like this it is more important than ever that our society be caring and compassionate, founded on the promotion of human dignity and the common good.

Inspired by Jesus Christ, we believe that as a community we should work together to secure the common good, especially in a time of distress. The common good is all the material and social conditions necessary for all people to live truly purposeful and fulfilling lives in relationship with others.

The employment relationship is one of the more important, and it must be protected.  In our society work a significant basis of our sense of dignity.

The impacts of unemployment are deep and lasting. It unleashes a Pandora’s box of other social problems from worsening mental health to domestic violence.

Therefore, urgent action is needed to avoid mass unemployment in this unprecedented time.

We acknowledge the work of the Federal Cabinet to date, including the additional welfare payments. However, welfare alone risks entrenching unemployment, leaves workers queuing around the block, Centrelink inundated, and does not arm businesses to rebound quickly. We must unite to save businesses and jobs.

We call on the Federal Cabinet to urgently establish a scheme to protect workers and businesses through a wage subsidy guarantee program.

Under this model, payments could go to business via PAYG, state revenue offices or other existing mechanisms. Business receiving these funds would do so with the agreement they pay and retain workers. Similar schemes have been adopted in the UK, Ireland and Denmark, and other countries to support businesses to keep their workforce on the job and receiving an income.

Beyond this crisis, recovery will be long and hugely difficult with a disconnected workforce who have been cut off from their employers, colleagues and their normal working lives for months.

The scale of the COVID-19 crisis is alarming. We commend our political leaders for their readiness to work together for the good of the nation.

The communities and agencies as part of the Uniting Church are ready to work with the Federal Cabinet for a better outcome for Queenslanders and Australians.

Rev David Baker is the Moderator of the Uniting Church in Australia, Queensland Synod.


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