Fr Frank Brennan’s 2017 Rerum
Novarum lecture, ‘The Legacy of Justice Higgins: Seeking a True New Start
for all Job Seekers and workers’, challenged us all to ‘focus more on how our
unprecedented wealth gives us a one off and unprecedented opportunity to break
the cycle of poverty, through education and lifelong support’. This requires ‘economic policies which are
based on, and which build on, the aspirations of the marginalised and excluded
who yearn for the opportunity to access the market, sharing the fruits of
Australia’s prosperity.’ and it must ensure ‘a robust safety net and an assured
leg up for those missing out through no fault of their own’.
Early last century Justice Higgins referred to ‘the pole
star of justice’ as his guide in establishing a just wage system.
Pope Francis has also ‘articulated the concerns of many
about the social and environmental impacts of the dominant economic
system. He has called for a change in
the attitudes and practices of all of us, but placed particular responsibility
on those with the power to change the economic environment through laws that
are capable of protecting the common good.'