Voting on 21 May (4): An Economy for Life

Australian citizens go to the polls to elect a federal government on 21 May. The 17 million people eligible to vote will be electing both a local member to sit in the House of Representatives for the next three years; and a number of senators, to sit in the Senate for the next six years.

To assist voters in considering how they might vote, the Uniting Church has prepared a resource that identifies a number of issues, in seven key areas, that should inform the way that we vote, if we take seriously how the Gospel. calls us to live.

The seven areas are drawn from Our Vision for a Just Australia, a 40-page document expressing the Uniting Church vision for a just Australia and why our Christian faith calls us to work towards its fulfilment. It can be read in full at https://uniting.church/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Our-Vision-For-a-Just-Australia_July2021.pdf

The Assembly has prepared a shorter 8-page document as a Federal Election Resource, in which key matters in each of the seven areas are identified. That document is found at https://uniting.church/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Federal-Election-Resources-2022_11-April.pdf

The fourth area reflects the vision of the Uniting Church for An Economy of Life. This was the title of an extensive document on economic policy which the Twelfth Assembly adopted in 2009. See https://ucaassembly.recollect.net.au/nodes/view/17

The resource notes that our “government makes economic decisions that put people first: decisions that are good for creation, that lift people out of poverty and fairly share our country’s wealth. The economy serves the well-being and flourishing of all people. We believe in an Australia where prosperity is shared fairly, embracing all people regardless of their privilege or upbringing.”

The resource makes these observations: “Aspirations for shared prosperity in Australia are unravelling under the sustained, twin trends of weak wage growth and rising asset prices. Over the past 10 years wage growth has limped under 2.5 per cent annually. Over the same period share portfolio and real estate values have grown around 10 per cent annually.”

“These settings deliver economic gains toward those with assets and away from those doing it tough, resulting in a greater and growing gap between the haves and the have-nots. Greater inequality strongly tracks with stress, hunger, poor physical health, poor mental health, homelessness and social exclusion, and has a negative impact on economic growth.”

“Older women are more at risk of reduced financial security after a lifelong gender pay-gap, interruptions to employment for care and reduced superannuation. The retirement savings gap between males and females in 2019 was almost one quarter. The result is that 34 percent of single women in Australia live in poverty.”

The key issues to inform our voting in this regard are what each candidate or their party says about:

• A clear commitment to undertake a review into the past decade of low-income growth.

• An increase in social security payments, especially Jobseeker.

• Tax reforms to increase the progressive nature of the Australian tax system to address unhealthy inequality.

• A clear commitment to make superannuation contributions on top of the government Parental Leave Pay.

For the full series of seven posts, see