Social Action Office

A Background Briefing Note
for the 'Fair Go - Fair Share' Campaign

Socio-Economic Polarisation in Australia



The secret is out finally. Despite a booming economy in recent years, the distribution of the benefits of this has been unequal and uneven. In fact, the gap between those doing well from the current economic prosperity and those just struggling to maintain a decent standard of living has widened considerably in recent years. A number of recent studies have illustrated this point graphically:
  • In his recent book Turning Point - Australians Choosing Their Future, the reputable sociologist, Hugh Mackay, has cited the following household income statistics:

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures tell us that about 50 percent of households have an average annual income (after tax) of less than $50,000. But the polarisation of household incomes is graphically revealed by estimates prepared by Ibis Information Systems. In 1997-98, Ibis estimated that the top 20 percent of households had an average annual income of $142,000 and the next 20 percent had an average annual income of $78,900. The bottom 20 percent, by contrast, had an average annual income of $12,625. (p. 55)

  • In The Australian's week-long feature Advance Australia Where in mid 2000 (June 17-22), the gap between the rich and well-heeled and the poor, struggling battlers was explored comprehensively. As part of this feature, an article by Mike Steketee (June 19, p. 10) provided national figures on the growing income gap from the highly reputable National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM).

Research commissioned by NATSEM shows that the numbers of employees in the top earnings bracket doubled by more than 1 million between 1982 and 1996-97 full-time employees in this bracket saw their average pay go up by $299 a week after inflation to $1,488 a week - an 18 percent increase. At the other end of the scale, those in the bottom band almost doubled in numbers as well to reach 1.1 million. But these full-time employees saw their average real income drop by $4 to $205 a week.

In other words, the rise for those at the top was greater than the total earnings of those at the bottom in 1996-97.

  • The Social Action Office's own research into poverty in Queensland (People and Places - A Profile of Growing Disadvantage in Queensland, QCOSS, 1999) revealed a steady increase in the rates and incidence of poverty in this State over a fourteen year period. This study showed that on the most recent statistics available, around 20 percent of households or income units in Queensland are living below the Henderson Poverty Line (HPL). The report also identified areas of relative disadvantage across the State. Building upon an earlier 1995 study, Drawing the Line on Poverty, this research highlighted the geographical/spatial dimensions of poverty and disadvantage in Queensland. This reflects other research which has brought this dimension to socio-economic disadvantage to attention.

The fact is that socio-economic polarisation within Australia has a geographical/spatial dimension.

A focus on the gap between those at the top of the income scale and those at the bottom can serve to disguise another significant socio-economic demographic, namely that middle Australia is struggling. While government assistance to low-income earners, especially families with children, has offset an even worsening socio-economic inequality, the situation facing middle-income earners has deteriorated.

NATSEM data used by Mike Steketee highlights what he refers to as the "hollowing out of middle Australia":

In 1982, 45 percent of the workforce was clustered on earnings of between 75 percent and 125 percent of median earnings. By 1997, that had fallen to a little over 37 percent.

So, in 15 years, the number of middle-income earners shrank by 8 percent, representing 544,000 workers. Of course, a significant number of these middle-income earners moved into the high-income bracket in that period. However, many also fared negatively and their incomes fell in real terms.

In August 1999 the median income in Australia
was $552 per week.

The Australian, 17-18 June 2000

The shrinking of middle-income earners is seen by many commentators as a contributing factor in the growth of the so-called "working poor" - those people who are in paid employment but who are near the bottom of the income scale and being paid incomes which are inadequate for a decent living. The working poor are clustered around insecure, casualised jobs with little protection. Such workers are vulnerable to market forces, cannot rely on the longevity of employment and have little bargaining power in the workplace.

In a recent report from NATSEM, the correlation between poverty and poor health was explored. The Courier-Mail (11 January 2001) headed its account of this report Poorer in health and wealth.

The findings of this research revealed that the "health gap" between the rich and poor in Australia had widened in the last two decades. Those at the bottom of the income scale, on $27,500 a year or less (40% of Australians) tend to have poorer health compared with higher-income groups. This impacted significantly on children of low-income families who were more likely to suffer from illnesses such as asthma, deafness and bronchitis.

The report identified the "working poor", the unemployed and others reliant on social security incomes as the most vulnerable.

On top of having to struggle with inadequate incomes and deteriorating heath, the quality of life of many Australians has been diminished by:

  • the loss of services, both public and private sector services, especially in rural areas
  • the cutbacks and downsizing of staff in key institutions, again in both the public and private sectors and impacting especially in rural and regional areas
  • the introduction of "user-pays" regimes in many areas of life which were once freely accessible.
In a recent edition of The Australian Magazine (6-7 May 2000), Deborah Hope wrote a feature in which she detailed examples of where "bottom line" economics had reduced the quality of public and private services - hospital and nursing home staff reduced, railway staff replaced with technology, closure of banks, cleaning services in institutions out-sourced and cut back, work overload. In all, Hope took a long look "beyond the bottom line" and concluded that:

The evidence is everywhere: in our health system, aged care, public schools, transport, banks, longer work hours. The Australian economy may be healthy but our quality of life is under attack. (p.29)

In other words, the "bottom line" of economic calculus has been given precedence over social factors which, in many cases, have diminished the material circumstances of many Australian citizens. In particular, in the name of "market failure", both private and public services have been withdrawn or downsized in many parts of the country. This has exacerbated the growing polarisation between the well-off and the low-income battlers.


  • Recent years have seen a dramatic polarisation of incomes within Australia so that now there is a huge social divide between low-income Australians, battling to make ends meet, and the well-off. Middle Australia is declining and a socio-economic polarisation is taking shape.

  • The health gap between low-income groups and those in higher-income brackets is widening. The 'working poor' and the unemployed are particularly vulnerable to poor health. Children of low-income families are also vulnerable to long-term illness.

  • The extent and quality of services has diminished in many parts of Australia which, for many on low incomes, has diminished their quality of life.

Catholic Social Teaching

The tradition of Catholic Social Teaching began in 1891 with Rerum Novarum (The Condition of Labour). This has been followed by a series of social encyclicals and other documents. The Popes have given the lead in the evolution of this social doctrine but have been followed by statements from Synods and Bishops' Conferences throughout the world. For example, Justice in the World, the 1971 Synod of Bishops document, is a significant affirmation of social justice as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the gospel. Similarly, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference reaffirmed the importance of the social gospel in the 1992 document Common Wealth for the Common Good.

In general it can be said that the encyclicals and documents which constitute Catholic Social Teaching have been written in response to the social, economic and political issues which have distinguished the last 110 years. They represent the "engagement" of the Church with the modern world. Figure 1 (below) details the major encyclicals and documents which have emanated from Rome. Consider this time-line and then consider the major historical events which have occurred in that period. The encyclicals have engaged with such issues as (i) economic justice; (ii) the rights of workers to wage justice; (iii) peace and disarmament; (iv) the development debate; (v) global poverty; (vi) human rights; (vii) racism; and (viii) the distribution of wealth.

Catholic Social Teaching 1891-1991


Rerum Novarum (Leo XIII) (The Condition of Labour)


Quadragesimo Anno (Pius XI) (The Reconstruction of the Social Order - 40th year)


Mater et Magistra (John XXIII) (Mother and Teacher - Christianity and Social Progress)


Pacem in Terris (John XXIII) (Peace on Earth)


Gaudium et Spes (Vatican II) (The Church in the Modern World)


Populorum Progressio (Paul VI) (Progress/Development of Peoples)


Octogesima Adveniens (Paul VI) (Apostolic Letter: Call to Action - 80th year)


Iustitia in Mundo (Synod of Bishops) (Justice in the World)


Evangelii Nuntiandi (Paul VI) (Evangelisation in the Modern World)


Laborem Exercens (John Paul II) (On Human Work)


Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (John Paul II) (Social Concerns of the Church)


Peace with God the Creator, Peace with all of Creation (John Paul II)


Redemptoris Missio (John Paul II) (Missionary Activity of the Church)


Centesimus Annus (John Paul II) (One Hundred Years)

Figure 1

Significantly, Catholic Social Teaching has introduced such concepts as "the structures of sin" and "the option for the poor" and into the mainstream of theological discourse.

Key principles of Catholic Social Teaching speak to the issues raised here, notably:

  • the polarisation in household incomes and a growing health gap which, in part, reflects a growing incidence of poverty within the Australian community
  • the growth of a 'working poor' class
  • the diminishment of social and community services and their increasing privatisation which meant that many on low incomes have difficulty accessing the good, quality services they need to ensure a decent quality of life.

What follows is a short exploration of how the principles of Catholic Social Teaching relate to these issues and how they provide guidance for people of faith to engage politically with these issues.

Catholic Social Teaching has always upheld the right to private property. However, this is not seen as an absolute right. The goods of the earth are meant by God for all. Pope John Paul captured the Church's position on this matter when he stated in his 1987 encyclical Sollicitudo Rei Socialis that:

It is necessary to state once more the characteristic principle of Christian social doctrine: the goods of this world are originally meant for all. The right to private property is valid and necessary but it does not nullify the value of this principle. Private property, in fact, is under a "social mortgage", which means that it has an intrinsically social function, based upon and justified precisely by the principle of the universal destination of goods. (42)

The fact that private property is under a "social mortgage" means that the accumulation of wealth by individuals and organisations cannot continue unabated if others are denied a decent standard of living with access to an adequate level of income and to good social and community services.

Another principle of Catholic Social Teaching is that of the dignity of the human person. This underscores the belief that a human life is sacred and that each person is endowed with a fundamental dignity that is prior to race, sexual preference, ethnicity, nationality and personal achievement. Governments and society must do all that can be done to uphold this dignity and not diminish it. Poverty impedes human potential and thus diminishes human dignity. Society must do all it can to eliminate poverty and to ensure that human beings can live life fully, here and now.

Related to this is the Church's belief in the dignity of work and the right of all to be able to engage in meaningful employment and to do a just day's work for a just remuneration.

Another key tenet of Catholic Social Teaching is that of the "common good". The "common good" is based on the notion that the human person, as well as enjoying individual rights and freedoms, is a member of society and that this requires a respect for the needs and rights of others who are also members of that society. While an individual might pursue his or her interests, this must be balanced with regard for the wider social good. Governments are also required to uphold and preserve the common good.

Common Wealth for the Common Good (1992) summed this up well when it stated that:

Individuals and groups within a society have an obligation to pursue not only their own interests but the good of all. The governing and administrative bodies of a society are obliged to safeguard and promote the common good, as well as the good of the society's component parts. (p.13)

To be 'Catholic' is to take these teachings to heart and, upon reflection, to enable them to inform action. The issues raised so far suggest that the socio-economic polarisation taking shape in contemporary Australia is not serving the common good. Many Australians are experiencing poverty and unemployment and are struggling to live an adequate material life while others are reaping the surplus of an economic boom time. The great socio-economic divide must not be allowed to become wider. Strategies to bridge the gap must be developed and implemented.

Action Arising

The issues canvassed in this Briefing Note so far raise some questions about the priorities of recent economic and social policy directions. While the need for good economic management is not disputed, it has become apparent that elevating market-driven economic policy above all else and ignoring the social impacts of such a policy approach will give rise to greater socio-economic division. The facts outlined above speak for themselves.

When this is set against the guiding principles of Catholic Social Teaching discussed above, it can be argued that, in the interests of the common good, governments now need to do more to address the growing social divide in Australia. Poverty, unemployment and inadequate working conditions for working people are not acceptable. Given that governments are institutions which play a key role in the redistribution of the nation's wealth, it is timely to make demands for a policy re-think in a number of areas which are pertinent to addressing the nation's socio-economic divide. In short, it is time for governments to claim the notion of the "social mortgage" under which private property/wealth is held and make a claim on behalf of the individuals and families struggling to live decently on inadequate incomes.

While there are many policy issues that could be addressed in this context, especially taxation, it is proposed that action be taken up in relation to three issues which pertain to the policy agenda of the Commonwealth Government in the lead-up to the next federal election. The proposed issues are:

  • the Commonwealth's commitment to the provision of public housing
  • the living wage
  • welfare reform.

These issues are proposed because they relate directly to individual and household income and have a real bearing on the incidence and rate of poverty in the Australian community.

The needs of the poor
take priority over the wants of the rich;
The freedom of the dominated
takes priority over the liberty of the powerful;
The participation of the marginalised
takes priority over the preservation of an order
which excludes the marginalised.

From: D Hollenbach SJ, Claims in Conflict, 1979

Issue: Housing Assistance for People on Low Incomes

For over fifty years the Commonwealth State Housing Agreement (CSHA) has been the basis of agreement between both levels of government about funding for housing assistance. First signed in 1945, it addressed a critical housing shortage in the nation in this period after World War II. As part of the agreement, the Commonwealth provided funds which were "matched" by each State Government. The CSHA was renegotiated every five years and over time changed focus to reflect priorities. In latter years, it has reflected the need for more targeting of housing assistance for those in need. It continues to be a key vehicle for funding housing assistance - especially for the people on low incomes. It is from this pool of funds that State Governments have provided many of their social housing programs, including public housing.

The Commonwealth Government also provides direct housing to people on low incomes through the Rent Assistance Scheme which is administered by Centrelink. Rental assistance is paid to people who receive Centrelink payments and are accommodated in the private rental market. This scheme has grown steadily for the last fifteen years and now eclipses the housing assistance funds provided by the Commonwealth via the CSHA. In 2000-2001 rent assistance is estimated to cost around $1.5 billion compared to CSHA housing assistance of $948.033 million.

In fact, the Commonwealth's contribution to the CSHA has been declining since 1996 and, with the most recent re-negotiation of the agreement, Commonwealth funds will decline even further, from $957.609 million in 1999-2000 to $929.18 million in 2002-03 (Press Release, Minister for Social Security, 11 September 1999). Taking all factors into account, National Shelter has estimated a 13% cut in CSHA funds in the four year period 1999-2000 to 2002-03. Added to this is the impact of the GST on housing construction which means that building a house will cost more and, therefore, that fewer houses will be built with the funds available. Some compensation is to be paid to the States but this will only partly compensate for the increased burden of the GST.

In general, this situation strongly suggests a preference for housing assistance delivered through rental assistance in the private rental market rather than through capital-based public housing.

There are good arguments to support this policy trend. For example, (i) public housing stock cannot keep up with the growth in housing need (waiting lists are already long); (ii) public housing stock requires expenditure on upkeep and maintenance; and (iii) rent assistance can deliver housing assistance flexibly to people on low incomes.

Notwithstanding this, rent assistance has very real limitations as a form of housing assistance. For example, (i) it is not linked to policies that encourage investors to invest in low-cost private rental housing so that there is a very short supply of such housing and so, even with rent assistance, many people on low incomes have to pay an excessive proportion of their limited incomes for private rental housing; and (ii) in many States residential tenancy legislation is inadequate and does not provide long-term security nor protection from excessive rent increases.

In the end, both rental assistance and public housing are important forms of housing assistance for people on low incomes. Each form has strengths and each has limitations.

The critical point is that each must be maintained and improved to provide good housing outcomes for low-income people:

  • the diminishment of funds for housing assistance delivered through the CSHA must be stopped; Governments have a real role to play in the provision of low-cost housing stock and this should not be abandoned
  • the continuation of rental assistance delivered through Centrelink must be linked to policies and strategies which address tenant security, affordability and quality of housing issues in the private rental market.

The right to housing should not be interpreted in a narrow or restrictive sense which equates it with, for example, the shelter provided by merely having a roof over one's head,
or views shelter exclusively as a commodity.
Rather, it should be seen as the right to live somewhere
in security, peace and dignity.

Article 11(1) UN Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Issue: A Living Wage

One of the key concepts articulated by Pope Leo XIII in the first social encyclical Rerum Novarum (1891) was that of the "just wage". The exploitation of labour in Europe and the growing revolutionary fervour of the working classes gave rise to the call for wage justice for workers. The Pope and his successors have asserted the rights of labour over capital. They have condemned the exploitation of human labour and affirmed the dignity of the human person and the dignity of work.

In 1907, in the famous Harvester Judgement, Justice Higgins enunciated the notion of the "basic wage". This established a wage benchmark for a family man (men were assumed to be the one and only bread winner at this time) with two children which would enable such a family to live with a decent standard of living in a civil society. It also underscored an attempt to redistribute the benefits of economic growth so that there was some semblance of social equity across the nation.

The "basic wage" was the centrepiece of Australia's centralised industrial relations regimes for decades.

So, at both the Church and political level, the notion of wage justice was a key tenet of public discourse.

In the last two decades, industrial relations in Australia have been slowly decentralised and deregulated. There has been a growing trend away from permanent, full-time work to casualised, part-time work. This has been accompanied by a drop in the number of workers covered by traditional awards which are negotiated collectively and a move towards individual workplace contracts. A consequence of this has been the diminishment of the trade union movement. In some quarters this has been pursued aggressively and with great hostility directed towards trade unionism - witness the MUA dispute in 1998.

In summary, collective bargaining by trade unions on behalf of workers is slowly being overtaken by individual bargaining in the workplace environment.

It is not intended to make definitive judgements about these changes in the industrial relation regime here. This would be the subject of a paper in itself which would, in turn, draw upon Catholic Social Teaching in regard to these matters. The intent here is to put that case for those who are not doing so well from this situation. That is, the largely unskilled and, consequently, poorly paid workers who are the most vulnerable in the labour market.

It is on behalf of these people that the notion of the "living wage" is promoted. The living wage follows in the tradition of Leo XIII's "just wage" and Justice Higgins' "basic wage".

The "living wage" is aimed at overcoming the widening income inequality within Australia. It is based on the premise that there needs to be a safety net for low-income workers to ensure a decent standard of living for such workers and their families.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) pursued a Living Wage Claim in 1999-2000 and is doing so in 2001. In the 1999-2000 Claim, the ACTU has argued for a benchmark of $12.00 per hour for the ordinary hours of work and $456.00 for a 38 hour week. This is the benchmark minimum wage to ensure a decent standard of living for a worker and family. Many, including the Federal Government, oppose the ACTU Claim.

A just economy upholds the principle
of paying just wages to all workers.

Adapted from: R Blank, Do Justice, 1992

Many opponents of the living wage argue that this intervention in the labour market will adversely affect employment and hinder employers from taking on new workers. While there has been considerable debate on this, there is no conclusive proof that moderate safety net increases inhibit job growth. In fact, the ACTU points to evidence from the USA which suggests that it is macro-economic conditions, not the minimum wage, that largely determines labour demand, and thus the extent of employment opportunities in the low wage labour market. (ACTU Living Wage Claim, 2000, p. 89)

In the end, a living wage safety net will not stop the rich getting richer. It is not intended to do that. It is intended to provide a very basic safety net for low-paid workers and to prevent them from getting poorer, relative to the wider community. It is also designed to assist such workers to keep abreast of inflation and the cost of living. The fact that this cause is taken up by the ACTU underscores the importance of the trade union movement in society. The right of workers to associate and collectively bargain must be protected. Similarly, the right of workers to call on a union to negotiate with them or on their behalf must be upheld. If this advocacy is lost, where, in particular, do vulnerable, unskilled workers go?

The living wage is a social structure which aims to stop low-paid workers from becoming poorer in a deregulated labour market which generally aspires to drive wages down. It is a preventative intervention which, it is argued here, is consistent with the principles of Catholic Social Teaching discussed above - namely the 'social mortgage' over private property, the equitable distribution of the world's goods and the importance of preserving the common good, in particular, doing all that is possible to eliminate poverty.

Issue: Welfare Reform

Along with tax reform, the current Federal Government's reform focus has been on welfare, so-called. With a growing reliance on long-term income support from Government and a concurrent growth in income support expenditure as a proportion of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the Commonwealth Government wants to encourage people not to become welfare dependent. In 1999, the Government established a Reference Group to oversee a process of reform. This group has received submissions, written an interim report and called for further submissions in the lead-up to presenting a final report to the Commonwealth Government. The final report was released in July 2000.

While the need to address the growing reliance on government income support is not disputed, it would not serve the common good to construct a punitive income support regime which makes the most vulnerable bear the burden of reform. It is also important to acknowledge the link between welfare reform and the income statistics highlighted in sections 1 and 2 of this Briefing Note and of the discussion on the Living Wage. Low incomes in paid work are not a great incentive for people to stay off welfare payments.

The temptation for government could be to reduce such payments in order to make lower paid work an incentive. It is not suggested that this is the intention of the current Commonwealth Government as part of its welfare reform strategy. This is raised here only to point out that some in the community do advocate this position and that it has appeal to some. The logic of reducing income support payments to force people into low-paid employment must not be given any legitimacy at all. It must be avoided at all costs because it will have the effect of further deepening an already growing socio-economic divide in Australian society.

The Welfare Reform Reference Group's final report places great emphasis on the need to ensure that those who are reliant on government income support are enabled to participate in social and economic activity. Participation is seen as a way in which people can discharge their part in a mutual obligation relationship with the wider community - they offer something back in return for income support payments. This is the "work for the dole" scheme writ large.

While there is merit in the notion of mutual obligation and the active encouragement of and support for people to participate socially and economically, it is essential that this be entered into freely. It should not be used punitively, to make people participate or lose their entitlements. Since the introduction of mutual obligation, the incidence of so-called "breaches" by Centrelink is alarming. The Welfare Rights Centre network across Australia and ACOSS have estimated a 250 percent increase in the number of welfare recipients being breached in the last three years and, therefore, losing part or all of their income support. In the last financial year over 300,000 "breaches" were imposed. The burden of this fell on almost 200,000 unemployed people and students. Further, when these are appealed a significant number of breaches are revoked. Estimates indicate that at around thirty-five percent of breaches have been overturned. This raises the question of why they were imposed in the first place and why vulnerable people have been subject to the stress of this.

Many breaches were for such minor 'offences' as failing to reply to a letter or being late for an interview. The penalties take no account of the circumstances of the people involved - for example, that homeless people, people with a psychiatric disability and people with low literacy skills might have difficulty negotiating the complex social security mutual obligation system!

Economics can be defined as the management of God's household so that all may have life.

From: R Blank, Do Justice, 1992

Now that mutual obligation is to be extended to single parents and disability pensioners there is a concern that the punitive nature of this policy will impact even further on the vulnerable.

As well as the stress this is causing to the people involved, welfare agencies are also feeling the pressure of having to respond to growing homelessness and poverty in the community. People have a right to the means of livelihood and this should be respected.

It is also important to acknowledge that many, especially the adult unemployed and young people, have to survive on income support payments which are 20-30% below the Henderson Poverty Line (HPL). To reduce this even further or to take it away will create poverty on a scale not seen since the 1930s.

A further point to make is that social and economic participation is not possible if people do not have secure housing. A person cannot participate without housing!

In their submissions, the Social Action Office and the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission argued to the Welfare Reform Reference Group that income support must be the key goal of the social support system and that while participation is laudable if entered into freely it is a secondary goal.

Consistent with the philosophy behind the living wage, consideration needs to be given to a guaranteed minimum income for all Australians.

In summary, welfare reforms cannot be allowed to erode income support and be used punitively against the most vulnerable in society.


The bottom line of economic calculus has dominated policy discourse now for many years. It is as if people have had to "fit" into economic models and serve economic ends. Rather, the reverse should have happened. The economy should be designed to serve the human community (indeed, the whole Earth community) and uphold human dignity and it "fit" within these parameters. This is consistent with the values and principles of Catholic Social Teaching.

As Deborah Hope has reminded us, if we take a good look beneath the bottom line we will see some situations where both individuals and communities, in growing numbers, have been abandoned - with comparatively low incomes, insecure housing, lack of support services and a bleak future.

It is time to address these concerns to elected and aspiring politicians. The three issues raised here do not present the total picture of growing social inequity in Australia today. However, they touch on two key matters which, combined, have a significant bearing upon the ability of people to live decently - namely, the housing safety net and an income safety net. If politicians take these matters as seriously as they take macro- and micro-economic reform we would not be facing the great socio-economic divide which is emerging in our country today. The socio-economic polarisation must not be allowed to go unacknowledged by policy makers and legislators. Steps must be taken to bridge the gap between the rich and poor in Australia and give everyone a fair go and a fair share.

The Centenary of Federation is a good time to set a national socio-economic agenda that includes a FAIR GO and FAIR SHARE for all!


© Social Action Office - CLRIQ, February 2001


Australian Council of Trade Unions (2000)
ACTU Living Wage Claim 1999/2000

Duffy M (2000)
"A welfare state of mind" in The Courier-Mail, June n.d.

Hannon K (2001)
"Poorer in health and wealth" in The Courier-Mail, 11 January

Hope D (2000)
"Beneath the bottom line" in The Australian Magazine, 6-7 May

Mackay H (1999)
Turning Point - Australians Choosing Their Future. Pan McMillan Australia

Minister for Social Security (1999)
Press Release, 11 September

Reference Group on Welfare Reform (2000)
Participation Support for A More Equitable Society

Steketee M (2000)
"Pay-packet injustice to get worse" in The Australian, 19 June

Thornthwaite T, Kingston C, Walsh P (1995)
Drawing the Line on Poverty. QCOSS

Social Action Office and Queensland Council of Social Service (1999)
People and Places - A Profile of Growing Disadvantage in Queensland. QCOSS

Welfare Rights Centre Network and ACOSS (2000)
Doling out punishment - the rise and rise of social security penalties. ACOSS Website

Encyclicals and Synod Documents

Rerum Novarum (1891)
Justice in the World (1971)
Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (1987)

Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (1992)
Common Wealth for the Common Good - A Statement on the Distribution of Wealth in Australia. Collins Dove


Note: This Briefing Note replaces earlier editions which were entitled
(i) Beneath the Bottom Line and (ii) The Growing Gap

The Fair Go - Fair Share Postcard Campaign was launched by the Social Action Office in April 2001. The campaign targetted candidates in the three major parties. If you would like information about this campaign, please email SAO.

Click here for a Theological Reflection on Fair Go - Fair Share.


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