Commission Calls for Focus on Marginalised in State Election
28 August 2006
Brisbane’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission has urged Catholics and all political candidates to place the needs of marginalised people at the centre of concerns during the course of next month’s Queensland State election.
The Commission recently discussed what messages it would send to voters and candidates as the September 9 poll approaches.
The Commission’s Executive Officer, Peter Arndt, said that the Commission was overwhelmingly concerned to ensure that Catholics placed a priority on what the next Queensland Government could do to improve the dignity of the weakest and most vulnerable members of society.
“While the Commission does not reject the importance of water and health as issues in this election, it is concerned that none of the political parties will give much priority to the needs of people on the margins unless voters make them a priority,” Mr Arndt said.
“The Commission does not presume to tell Catholics how to vote, but it does want to encourage Catholics to ensure that the values which Jesus embodied are placed at the centre of political concerns in Queensland,” he said.
Among the concerns which Commission members highlighted in their discussion of the State election were reconciliation, Indigenous health and the “stolen wages” issue, mental health, the provision of affordable housing for people on low incomes, and the needs of people with a disability.
“The Commission is greatly concerned that the commitment to reconciliation in Queensland and Australia has diminished in recent years,” Mr Arndt said.
“Indigenous Queenslanders are still the most disadvantaged group in our community and we cannot see any change in this state of affairs unless there is a genuine passion on the part of every Queenslander and every political party for true reconciliation in our land,” Mr Arndt said.
“The health standards for Indigenous people continues to be much lower than for the rest of the community and this ought to be a scandal which should not be tolerated for a minute longer,” he said.
“Where is the passionate commitment to end this disgraceful and appalling situation in Queensland or Australia?” he said.
“Many Indigenous Queenslanders continue to be dissatisfied at the Queensland Government’s handling of the ‘stolen wages’ issue, but neither the Government nor the Opposition seem to have any great desire to offer Indigenous workers just compensation for wages which were never paid to them,” he said.
”The Commission is also greatly concerned that the provision of affordable housing to Queenslanders on low incomes is not a significant priority for most political parties,” he said.
“People with a mental health problem are not having their needs met and the Commission feels that there must be a greater willingness to deal with the needs of this marginalised group of Queenslanders so that they can live with some dignity,” he said.
“And it also appealed for more attention to be given to providing a dignified life for people with a disability including the provision of worthwhile employment opportunities,” he said.
“Jesus came to bring good news for the poor and marginalised and the Commission hopes that Catholics will try to be witnesses to this message in the way they think about the Queensland election,” he said.
“We can all try to put greater priority on the needs of the people left out of the election headlines,” he said.
“If a local candidate knocks on our door or is talking to voters in the street or at a railway station, we could ask them what they want to do about the health of our Indigenous sisters and brothers or about the housing needs of people on low incomes,” he said.
“When our political leaders appear on talkback radio, we could try to ring in and ask what they want to do to meet the needs of people with a disability or a mental health problem,” he said.
“And once the State election has been decided, we need to keep reminding our elected representatives that the most vulnerable and the most disadvantaged in our community should have first call on the Government’s help,” he said.
Released by the CJPC - Brisbane