In a brilliant, insightful article on Online Opinion today, Meg Wallace explains the depths to which the Gillard government has stooped in its efforts to keep funding the National School Chaplaincy Program. It’s a story of how the Gillard government has thumbed its nose at the Australian Constitution and the High Court of Australia, abandoned the principle of parliamentary democracy, sold out public accountability and even manoeuvered to exempt its Ministers from prosecution when it became apparent they had very possibly broken the law. It’s all very, very grubby.
I highly recommend Meg Wallace’s article to you: Undermining the constitution to save school chaplains and others
Please share the link to this article with your own networks (click the Facebook ‘like’ or Twitter links on the article). The more people who understand exactly what the government has done in order to pander to the religious right the better.
One really has to ask what back-room deals have been done to make the government sell out the very basis of our parliamentary democracy in order to put poorly qualified, evangelical, religious zealots into our secular state schools.
But this issue extends beyond government support for religious evangelising. It opens the floodgates for government pork-barreling. If the new amendment to the Finance Act stands, governments can commit tax payers’ money to a whole range of vote-buying programs, without legislation and without proper public accountability. They have organized for themselves a huge government pork-barreling slush fund.
It’s important to note (as the Commonwealth Ombudsman has pointed out) that executive schemes (financed without appropriate legislation) are not reviewable under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 (ADJR Act) and the merits of decisions made under this type of scheme are not reviewable by generalist or specialist tribunals. In other words, as it stands, the government can spend money without legislation and avoid accountability to the watchdogs set up to monitor government schemes. It is truly outrageous.
Ron Williams will be taking this matter back to the High Court of Australia, and it seems likely that the High Court justices will take a very dim view of the government trying to circumvent the Constitution and a High Court ruling by rushing through slip-shod, undemocratic legislation. For some opinions from constitutional experts, have a look at the links on the High Court Challenge website.
Once again, Williams will be risking his family’s financial future to fight for our rights in the High Court of Australia. It’s been estimated the cost of this second action will be around $400,000. Whether or not you support school chaplaincy, you should be appalled at the cynical way our government has dealt with this issue.
Please consider making a contribution towards Williams’ legal costs at the High Court Challenge website: http://www.highcourtchallenge.com .
I’ve donated $200, another friend has chipped in $1,000, but even smaller amounts will help if enough people donate.
This is a chance to be a part of constitutional history, and $50 or $100 is a very small price to pay to say to the government that ‘we the people’ demand they respect the rulings of the High Court of Australia and the Australian Constitution and the principle of parliamentary democracy.