The luvvies have just realised that they have been mugged.
It’s easy to see why so many progressives are happy today. In mid-2014, almost one year into the reign of the most ideologically right-wing government Australia has seen, and little more than a month after a Federal Budget that set out to destroy Australia’s social safety net, a controversial program is gone. It’s a victory against a government we would all like to see gone too.
But we should spare a thought for some of the other Commonwealth programs now at risk. The High Court has said, in effect, that Commonwealth spending must be supported by a head of legislative power under the Constitution. A general piece of authorising legislation wasn’t good enough. The ‘fix’ put in to support a raft of Commonwealth spending two years ago was today found wanting. Presumably his means that the Parliament will now need to pass new laws specifically authorising a range of new spending, and do to that the law will need to be supported by a specific constitutional head of power. Most are found in Section 51. There’s a lot that the Commonwealth currently does that is not clearly supported by that list of powers.
Here’s a taste of what could be at risk:
• Environment grants
• Industry assistance
• Funding to local government
• Housing and homelessness support
• Carer’s services
• Financial counselling
• Support for volunteer groups
• Sports infrastructure and program grants
It sounds like the wish list of a right wing think tank.
(The $200 vouchers for marriage counselling are probably safe – the Commonwealth’s marriage power in section 51(xxi) will see to that.)
Many of these programs exist because a Labor Governments created them. Will a Liberal Government protect them, or use this as an opportunity to shut them down?
…suddenly the Williams case looks a lot different. Instead of a gang of plucky atheists taking on the chaplains, Ron Williams’ hillbilly litigious circus is actually cover for an altogether more sinister cause: states’ rights activism.
Even though state governments were in favour of the chaplaincy program, every single one of the state attorneys-general intervened in the case in support of Williams’ second challenge. This should have immediately thrown up an enormous red flag. The states were in no way interested in joining the secular crusade against god botherers in primary schools; they were only interested in protecting the states from Commonwealth interference.
Shocking. How dare the States insist that the Commonwealth comply with the constitution?