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Schools chaplaincy program is 'constitutionally invalid'

Discussion in 'The Pub' started by TRA, Jun 20, 2012.

  1. I post this here, as there has been some interest in the past.

    The High Court has just handed down its decision on the Williams V Commenwealth of Aus case.

    SMH article here:

    Judgement here:

    Schools chaplaincy program is 'constitutionally invalid': High Court
    June 20, 2012 - 10:38AM
    Read later

    Queensland father Ron Williams wins High Court challenge against the national school chaplaincy program. Photo: Andrew Meares
    The High Court has ruled that the national school chaplaincy program is constitutionally invalid, because it exceeds the Commonwealth's funding powers.

    The court this morning ruled on a challenge to the scheme by Queensland father Ron Williams.

    The Howard government introduced the scheme in 2007, offering schools up to $20,000 a year to introduce or extend chaplaincy services.

    Advertisement: Story continues below
    About 2700 schools have received funding under the program to date. The Gillard government has promised to extend the scheme to up to 1000 further schools.

    The judgment could have implications for a raft of other federal government initiatives, from roads funding to arts grants and even private school funding.

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/polit...-high-court-20120620-20n2d.html#ixzz1yI7OjNM9

    Its a shame s116 looses out again.
  2. :-s By any stretch of the imagination it was upheld.
  3. They're both a little bit of a technicality really though, cos the Commonwealth doesn't actually employ the chaplains then the religeous test is invalid

    And because there's no legslation they can't fund it. Both are a reach really...

    But who care anyway to keep the botherers away from kids is a win...
  4. Umm No Lilley, it specifically says that there was not a breach of s116 but there was a breach of s61. The judgment was on the grounds of breaching s61 and states there was no breach of s116 at all. :angel:
  5. My understanding is that the program allowed the employment of a chaplain or a secular cousellor and so no religious test was being applied, thus no breach of s116.

    I'd like to see this decision result in a wholesale rethink of the program (not necessarily scrapping; I think that there's merit in the provision of couselling services by appropriately qualified professionals without a barrow to push) rather than some rushed legislation to allow it to continue in its current form.
  6. Certainly, more counsellors are required in schools or in the case of my sons school the same number of cousellors is fine, but they need to be there every day.

    I think it's a mistake for the counsellor to be a religous cleric. If the child needs religous help, go to church.
  7. Can some help determine if I'm understanding this rightly:

    - s61 relates to the powers of the Commonwealth
    - the issue is the division of powers between the states and the commonwealth
    - education is a state responsibility, and funding for it is a prerogative of the states
    - the ruling actually applies to federal government contributions to the funding of schools.

    Now have I got this correct? Why am I asking?

    - The introduction of commonwealth funding to schools was an initiative of Menzies, who stole a march on the Labor party by introducing commonwealth funding to all schools (both state and private) as a means of propping up an over-stretched system of catholic schools

    - technically this initiative was constitutionally invalid (s61), but no one was interested in challenging it, since the clients of catholic schools were, by and large, Labor's constituency and they would have introduced it anyway if Menzies hadn’t got there first

    - why did Menzies do it? it as it was universally recognised that the need to inject funds into the catholic system existed, but by taking the initiative and introducing funding to schools across the board, it also provided (unnecessary?) cash to the protestant grammar schools, the parents of whose students were Menzies' own liberal constituency

    also, by claiming to fund all schools - state and non-state; secular, protestant and catholic - all alike, he could claim not to be contravening the principle of secularism (i.e. s116)

    - due to successive instances of consolidation of taxation power in the hands of the commonwealth (which as been done by governments of both flavours) the state taxation base has been eroded, and their ability to fund to public schools has been unable to keep up with increasing demand

    - this has lead to a series of increases in commonwealth funding to all schools

    - grammar schools used this increase in funding to lower their fees and increase their market share

    - enter the Howard government with a new funding model which apportions funding on a per student basis, and allows this funding to follow students between state and private systems.

    - grammar schools used this funding to more aggressively pursue increased market share, not by lowering class sizes, but by (a) dropping fees and (b) engage in capital works programs (gyms, pools, sports grounds, music rooms, libraries)

    - state schools lose market share, but due to increases in population, number of students doesn't fall. Funding to state schools stagnates as loses in student numbers no longer represent a proportional increase in funds against remaining students

    - we now have a perverse incentive for federal and state governments (of both flavours) to purposefully under-fund state schools, as this represents budgetary savings.

    - state schools increasingly seen as a residual system leading to greater flight to private schools (oh, and remember, they are pretty much all religious)

    - this flight of the wealthy legitimated by rhetoric of consumer choice (meaning parents, not their children) and conservative rhetoric (i.e. dog-whistling) about the need for "values in schools" (Christian values)

    Question: will today's judgement lead to:

    (a) a cessation of federal schools chaplaincy program (in line with the high court ruling vis-à-vis s61)?
    (b) a change in the system due to a cessation of federal school funding more generally (also in line with the high court ruling vis-à-vis s61)?
    (c) Business as usual? (My pick.)
  8. My understanding of the introduction of funding from the Feds to non-public schools was a bit of clever politics, probably with a fair dose of bluff, by the Catholic bishop at Goulburn. It started with one run down toilet block and funding was refused. So all of the Catholic schools closed their doors and the students turned up on the doorsteps of the local public schools. There clearly wasn't the capacity to absorb the and the cost of building new schools to cover the Catholic enrolments too great, so it was agreed to provide a base level of Federal funding regardless of the school attended.
  9. By and large the clients of these private and religious schools are also tax payers and are in my view entitled to funding. These schools are actually saving the government money since parents not only pay their taxes but also pay for a far larger amount of school fees...................If the government truely wanted to separate government from religion then they should fund ALL schools and make no distinction on whether that school is religious or not. They should fund these school because a large portion of TAX payers have decided that a private and private religious school is better for their kids.

    If anything the government is propping up its own government schools by using tax payer money, tax peyers who want nothing to do with government schools.
  10. So because I don't wish to use public transport and decide to ride a motorccyle, I should get a subsidy for that as well.

    That logic doesn't stand up. The state provides a service - if you don't choose to use it then it's your choice and you should pay for it.**

    It's interesting that in most countries (including the US) there is no state funding for private schools. Australia is the rare exception.

    ** and I'll point out that I went to a Catholic school and my daughter went to a private school.
  11. While that may be true, and some private schools charge two testicles and 3 kidneys to send your kids to their school, it makes cheaper private schools accessible for people who want an option from public system.

    Besides that, I see the fact that US don't provide state funding for other schools as a very good reason for Australia to provide it.
  12. Tosh...

    The government provides public schools. If you don't want to use that service then don't but you don't get that money back.

    You don't get back your share of the public transport budget back because you choose not to use it.

  13. Depends how you look at it I guess.. imagine that the govt budgets $X on education per kid (not how it works but run with it for a moment). Private schools receive gvt funding, but not as much per head as public, right?

    So parents sending a kid to a private school results in the $ per kid budget for public schools to increase?

    Which to me suggests that private schools take pressure off the pubic system. If that is correct then surely some funding as incentive is beneficial
  14. Nope...

    A lot of private schools receive more commonwealth funding than public. The public system still has to deal with the expensive kids whilst the scaremongering means that children of parents that care are removed from the public system exacerbating it's problems...

    Doesn't help the public system at all.
  15. Jah, but the government also supports privately owned PT.
  16. Not quite the same...

    The government doesn't support exclusive busses the run the same routes as public ones just so that the uses don't have to sit with the plebs.
  17. The public systems of many sorts would collapse under the weight of EVERYONE withdrawing from private arrangements........

    And the parents involved in private schools would not be guaranteed to put the millions they put into those schools if their children were going to public schools....
  18. That's what the private sector would like you to believe. There would be problems no doubt but it's the public system that has the experience of coping with fluctuating numbers the private sector doesn't show up until layer.
  19. I can't recall reading this bit of the story, but it sounds totally plausible that the Catholic Church had an interest in forcing the issue. But why force the issue in the first place? Because the Catholic system wasn't coping with (a) the post-war baby boom and (b) post-war migration from southern Europe. The student-teacher ratio (which is a common index used to estimate quality of teaching) was much higher at Catholic Schools (classes often being 50+), and the catholic demographic was, on the whole, anything but wealthy, so raising fees wasn't an option. Assisting the catholic sector at that time was justifiable in terms of equality. (That it gave Menzies opportunity to get a jump on Labor helped. If I remember rightly, there was a minority within the left-wing of the Labor party opposed to it on grounds that there should be a single, universal education system, so it had the extra attractiveness to Menzies of splitting the Labor ranks over the issue. Maybe someone can chime in if I've got this aspect muddled.)

    The problem AFAIKS is how the issue of equality and secularism intersected to create a situation, which, over the course of time has changed so that now federal education funding has created a two-tier system, first-grade private tuition for those who can afford it, and an increasingly second-rate public system, which state governments have a perverse incentive to under-fund, because by doing so drives more people into the public system, so saving them money.
  20. You might think so, but stigger is right. What you two suggest doesn’t take into account the way government funding is formulated. Here is an article from 2010 that demonstrates that the reverse is true:

    Bullshit. What your saying is that I pay my taxes therefore I should get a return on my investment which sees me an mine right, and to hell with the social good.

    People send their children to private school for two reasons: (1) they can afford to, and (2) they recognise it as a means of entrenching privilege. Private schools teach somewhere between 35 and 40% of students in Victoria. It is the highest proportion of private school tuition in the world. (In the UK it is less than 7%). For their money, their children get spoon fed and are able to better compete for university places and therefore the best jobs, before the cycle continues with the next generation. On any given year between 85 and 90% of students at Melbourn Uni come from private schools. It’s not because they are smarter, but because they have been better supported by a system which is grotesquely distorted in their favour.

    At the end of the day it comes down to a matter of principles: you either believe in equality or you don’t. Many people will pay lip service to the concept by uttering some backsliding bullshit about equality of opportunity being what's important, and equality or outcome being totalitarianism - as if equality of income meant people had to spend their money in the same ways and spend their time doing the same things. Either way, the fact is, if you don’t support equality of opportunity in regards to education, you don’t give a fuck about equality in any way, shape or form.