Representatives of Australia’s major churches, along with environmental groups and civil society organizations, are urging the federal government to support an international campaign for a so-called “Robin Hood” tax on financial institutions.

In an open letter delivered to Prime Minister Julia Gillard June 22, 65 signatories asked the government to support a 0.05 percent tax on financial speculation by investment banks, hedge funds and other finance institutions at November’s Group of 20 world leaders meeting in Cannes.

“The Uniting Church supports this campaign because even this tiny social responsibility tax will contribute to shifting the balance of our economy away from the relentless pursuit of profit by a tiny minority and towards the public good,” said the Rev. Elenie Poulos, the Uniting Church’s Justice Director.

Signers include the Uniting Church, the National Council of Churches, aid arms of Baptist, Anglican and Catholic churches, as well as aid agencies Oxfam, TEAR Australia and World Vision.

Supporters claim the levy could generate billions of dollars to help fight poverty, tackle climate change and provide for investment in domestic social and environmental public spending.  

The open letter was organized by Jubilee Australia, campaigners for the forgiveness of Third World debt. It says that “as Australia builds its profile as a financial hub, we will need a stable and strong global economy in which to participate. As the developed world grapples with how to source the billions of dollars they are legally obligated to raise to support developing countries dealing with climate change, new sources of revenue are needed.”

Andrew Hewitt, Executive Director of Oxfam Australia, said the tax would primarily be felt by hedge funds and investment trading, with a limited impact on ordinary investors. “It’s a minor reform that would see major change for millions of people around the world in need,” he said.

The levy is also seen as a key measure to stamp out speculation in global financial market. “Introducing a financial transaction tax would generate funds for supporting equitable development, mitigating climate change and as well reduce the risk of another global financial crisis,” said Jubilee Australia advisor Professor John Langmore of Melbourne University.

Delivery of the letter coincided with a global day of action on financial transaction taxes, with activities planned in 35 countries worldwide.