The High Court has upheld a challenge to the National School Chaplaincy Program, ruling the law used to maintain Commonwealth funding for chaplains is unconstitutional.
This is a glorious victory – the legislation was an absolute disgrace and the then Liberal opposition that voted for this legislation should be ashamed of themselves.
Update: Chris Berg in The Age:
… the Financial Framework Legislation Amendment Bill (No 3) 2012. This bill received almost no press attention. It was supported by all sides of Parliament. The Coalition half-heartedly put up an amendment, but once that was rejected, it backed the bill anyway. The bill was made law in three hours.
Yet it was one of the most undemocratic and scandalous pieces of legislation passed in recent years. Forget the carbon tax. This is what Australia should be most angry about.
The bill authorises the government to spend money on 415 areas of public policy without having to ask Parliament for permission ever again.
But more importantly, the transfer of power from the Parliament to the executive under this act is immensely anti-democratic. It means we will not have a parliamentary debate on the school chaplains program, or any of the other 414 programs listed.
The new mechanism allows for spending relating to any regulations that fall under those programs. But regulations are not subject to parliamentary debate, so government now has the power to fund almost limitless activities of federal regulators without any parliamentary scrutiny. Section 32B even allows a minister to delegate their powers to make those regulations to junior bureaucrats.
As Simon predicted:
The act as a whole may be constitutionally invalid. The High Court has a history of striking down legislation designed by governments to brazenly circumvent its decisions. This is clearly such a case.
Let me just re-iterate how disgraceful the Coalition was in supporting this legislation.