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Pages tagged "High Court"
CEO of Scripture Union Queensland comments on High Court Challenge ruling
· June 24, 2014 10:00 AM
Peter James is the spokesperson for the National Schools Chaplaincy Association and CEO of Scripture Union Queensland, one of the defendants in the recent High Court challenge about the school chaplaincy program. He spoke to the ACL's Katherine Spackman about the ruling which struck down the funding arrangements of the program. He says there may be an avenue for states to fund the program.
High Court strikes down chaplaincy funding
· June 19, 2014 10:00 AM
Funding for school chaplains has been declared constitutionally invalid for the second time by the High Court of Australia
In handing down its decision, the High Court ruled that the provision of welfare workers in schools is not a “benefit to students”. Specifically, the constitution does not permit the following benefits to be considered capable of government funding: "strengthening values, providing pastoral care and enhancing engagement with the broader community”.
It is a disappointing day for the school communities across the nation who value the work of school chaplains.
However, Peter James, spokesperson for the National School Chaplaincy Association and Chief Executive of Scripture Union Queensland said, “While the High Court has ruled against the current model, the court has acknowledged federal funding can continue for chaplaincy through state/territory grants”.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has reassured the community of the government’s commitment to the program when he said it “very much supports [the program] and wants it to continue”. It follows the announcement in May to continue to fund the program a further $244 million over four years.
In the Senate Question time today, Senator Brandis said "It is important to note that in arriving at that conclusion, the Court did not deal with the merits of the program, merely that the question of whether it fell within a particularly constitutional definition".
Read more of Senator Brandis' comments
The challenge is the second time Toowoomba father of six Ron Williams has brought the issue of school chaplaincy to the High Court. In 2012 he sued the Commonwealth and Scripture Union Queensland, seeking to have the scheme stuck down. The High Court agreed that the legislation which existed at that time was invalid.
Immediately afterward, the Gillard government passed emergency legislation to protect the program. The new legislation sought to rely on section 51(xxiiiA) of the Constitution, which allows the federal government to provide funding for “benefits to students”.
The ACL will continue to advocate for the program to ensure an appropriate funding model can be adopted by government so school communities can benefit from the support of a school chaplain.
Two university studies on the program have shown school communities overwhelming value the role the chaplains provide.
Get informed about the issue by reading the National School Chaplaincy Association’s fact sheet
Dispelling Myths and Answering Questions.
Time to again speak up for the rights of kids
· June 12, 2014 10:00 AM
Since the High Court struck down the ACT Government's same-sex marriage legislation last December, there has been a welcome quiet in the debate.
With a substantial majority of federal parliamentarians in favour of preserving marriage and the rights of kids, there is no reason why this should change.
But the Greens, who cite changing the definition of marriage as one of their top priorities (along with euthanasia), are chipping away.
Recently they set up a Senate inquiry into a bill to recognise same-sex marriages conducted overseas.
This is clearly a tactic to put pressure on parliamentarians as part of the Greens' misguided assault on the rights of children to have their mum and dad, wherever possible.
The truth is there is no discrimination against same-sex couples in Australia. Keeping marriage between a man and a woman does not change this.
But if Australia capitulates on the definition of marriage, our cultural assumption that a child has the right - wherever possible - to her or his biological mother and father, will be lost.
It could take decades to recover this basic value in law.
A civil and unselfish society puts the rights of children first, no matter how emotive the arguments against this are.
Senate inquiries take notice of what the public say. They are very democratic.
ACL will be encouraging everyone to add their voice in this inquiry so the rights of the next generation can be upheld. Visit
to sign the submission to oppose the 'Recognition of Foreign Marriages Bill'.
On another note, thanks to everyone who has responded so generously to our end of financial year appeal, to ensure ACL can continue to be the voice for values our nation needs. We are making great progress but we still have a way to go. If you haven't already, please consider
Andrew Broad MP commends National School Chaplaincy Program in parliament
· June 04, 2014 10:00 AM
This week, Mr Andrew Broad MP (left) - the member for Mallee in Victoria - gave his support for the continued funding of the National School Chaplaincy Program in a statement to parliament.
He gave an account of the important work chaplains have played in his electorate, particularly after a tragic incident where a driver hit and killed six children in Mildura.
Mr Broad said:
"The advantage of helping young students as they grow and struggle to find their place in life and have someone to talk to is very valuable...We also believe that a chaplain's role in school is instrumental in helping young adults become fulfilled, confident and great individuals."
To read the statement, follow
to the Hansard document. Mr Broad's statement begins on page 42.
Last month, ACL congratulated the Coalition on fulfilling an election promise to continue funding school chaplaincy across Australia. The recent budget revealed that a total of $243.8 million will be allocated to the program over the next four years. Under the program, Australian schools can apply for $20,000 grants from the government to hire a school chaplain. Many school communities raise extra funds so their chaplains can work more than two days per week.
CEO of Scripture Union Queensland - the largest provider of school chaplains in Australia - Peter James recently spoke to ACL's Katherine Spackman about being called to the High Court a second time to defend the chaplaincy program. You can listen to the interview
. A verdict is not expected for some months.
School chaplaincy program gets funding boost
· May 21, 2014 10:00 AM
The Coalition has upheld its election promise by extending funding for the National School Chaplaincy Program, a decision welcomed by the Australian Christian Lobby.
before the election to continue the National School Chaplaincy Program in Schools to support the emotional wellbeing of students.
This month's federal budget revealed that a total of $243.8 million will be allocated to the program over the next four years. Under the program, Australian schools can apply for $20,000 grants from the government to hire a school chaplain. Many school communities raise extra funds so their chaplains can work more than two days per week.
Along with other groups, ACL has advocated for government support of the chaplaincy program, citing widespread community support for chaplains and the important pastoral care role they provide students.
on ABC News last week, Cabinet Minister Senator Eric Abetz commended the school chaplaincy program, saying:
‘The chaplaincy program is a wonderful investment in national building because if you talk to any school chaplain or indeed, any school principal that has a chaplain in their school, they will tell you what a wonderful investment it is in the spiritual wellbeing of young Australians.’
Scripture Union Queensland (SU QLD) - the largest provider of school chaplains in Australia - recently appeared before the High Court a second time to defend the chaplaincy program after an attempt by a Toowoomba resident to prevent funding of the program.
During the first High Court challenge, 85,000 Australians showed their support for school chaplains by signing a statement of support organised by SU QLD. They hope to present over 100,000 signatures to key members of parliament to show that school chaplaincy is important to thousands of families.
ACL encouraged its supporters
to get on board with the campaign earlier this year.
CEO of SU QLD Peter James recently spoke to ACL's Katherine Spackman about the challenge. Listen to the interview
. A verdict is not expected for some months.
Scripture Union's Peter James discusses High Court challenge hearing into chaplaincy
· May 13, 2014 10:00 AM
Peter James is the CEO of Scripture Union Queensland. In this interview with the ACL's Katherine Spackman he discusses the hearings held in Canberra from the 6th to the 8th of May into the school chaplaincy program. It's the second time the school chaplaincy program has being challenged in the High Court. The commonwealth government funds school chaplains in more than 3000 schools across the country.
Support Back Our Chappies Bus Tour
· February 13, 2014 11:00 AM
If you're in Queensland, we encourage you to show your support for the national school chaplaincy program by getting involved in the ‘Back Our Chappies’ bus tour, which will be travelling to more than 20 communities across the state. The tour will commence on the 10
of March and run for three weeks.
The tour is run by Scripture Union Queensland (SU Qld) to spread the message of school chaplaincy throughout Queensland.
to find out if the bus is coming to a town near you.
In September last year,
ACL informed supporters of SU Qld being called before the High Court a second time
to defend the national school chaplaincy program.
The case continues, and the High Court will sit in the first two weeks of May this year to hear the case in regards to ongoing federal funding for school chaplaincy.
Thank you for ensuring our school chaplains continue to serve our school communities to bring hope to the next generation.
for more information.
Lyle Shelton on The Drum about High Court overturning ACT's same-sex marriage laws
· December 12, 2013 11:00 AM
ACL's Managing Director Lyle Shelton appeared on ABC's The Drum last night talking about the High Court's decision to overturn the ACT's same-sex marriage laws.
to watch the interview. Lyle's commentary appears 33 minutes and 45 seconds into the program.
MR: ACL welcomes High Court decision on marriage
· December 12, 2013 11:00 AM
For release: Thursday, 12th December, 2013
The Australian Christian Lobby has welcomed the High Court’s decision to reject the ACT’s same-sex marriage laws.
Managing Director Lyle Shelton said the ruling upholds uniformity of marriage laws across the country.
“The ACT’s “marriage” laws were inconsistent with the federal laws and incapable of concurrent operation,” he said.
“This ruling shows it is not the jurisdiction of states to legislate in regards to marriage,” Mr Shelton said.
“It’s important for marriage laws to continue to be administered federally – this is why the Marriage Act was passed in 1961 to have uniform marriage laws,” he said.
“Marriage between a man and a woman is good for society and beneficial for governments to uphold in legislation. It’s about providing a future for the next generation where they can be raised by their biological parents, wherever possible,” he said.
However, Mr Shelton expressed concern for those same-sex couples who thought they were married under the ACT legislation.
“Understandably they will be disappointed at the decision handed down today and it is unfortunate they were put in this position,” Mr Shelton said.
“The debate about changing the definition of marriage has been given a fair go for the past three years with nine parliamentary attempts to change it,” he said.
“Like the republican debate, the public and parliamentarians have had plenty of time to evaluate it and it is now time to move on.”
High Court hears ACT same-sex marriage law case
· December 05, 2013 11:00 AM
The High Court heard the ACT same-sex marriage case on Tuesday, December 3rd, reserving its decision until December 12. ACL’s Research Officer Daniel Simon attended the hearing and reports on the arguments presented.
The Commonwealth argued that the ACT’s same-sex marriage law, passed in October and taking effect on December 7, is invalid because it is inconsistent with the Commonwealth Marriage Act 1961. Under the Australian Constitution, the federal government has the power to legislate for marriage. The Constitution also says that any state or territory law inconsistent with a federal law is invalid.
In its arguments, the Commonwealth, represented by Solicitor-General Justin Gleeson SC, made two main points: the uniformity of marriage law in Australia, and the intention to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
One law for Australia
Firstly, marriage is a federal power because this allows for one uniform law throughout the country. Prior to 1900, the separate colonies had different laws governing marriage and divorce. A similar situation existed, and still exists today, in the United States. Wanting to avoid what they called this “mischief”, the founders deliberately gave the federal parliament the power to make laws for marriage, which they did with the 1961 Act.
In the words of Mr Gleeson, the need to avoid the problems of diverse marriage laws was “at the heart of the very case for Federation itself”.
The intention to define marriage as between a man and a woman
The second main theme in the Commonwealth’s arguments was that the Commonwealth has clearly shown its intention that marriage in Australia be limited to the union of a man and a woman. This was assumed in the original Act but made clear in the 2004 amendments, which inserted a definition and also expressly prohibited the recognition of same-sex relationships formalised overseas.
In response, the ACT argued that the Commonwealth law only regulates opposite-sex relationships, and that it is open to the states to confer the status of “marriage” onto same-sex couples. The ACT also argued that although the intention was clear, the text of the Marriage Act as amended does not expressly prohibited the formalising of same-sex marriages in Australia.
The High Court also allowed submissions from Australian Marriage Equality (AME), represented by Mr Kirk SC, who argued that the ACT law creates a new and distinct status, not “marriage” but “same-sex marriage”. The ACT – and any state or territory – has the right to do this, they argued, because the federal law only deals with the status “marriage” as defined in the Act.
The potential for other statuses of marriage
The Court drew two important points out of the ACT and AME arguments.
Firstly, after some probing questions from Chief Justice French and Justice Bell, AME had to admit that, based on its argument, a state or territory could legislate a new status of marriage for any type of relationship, including those currently prohibited by the federal Marriage Act. Such relationships include those where one or both parties are a child, or already married to somebody else, or where true consent is not given, or where the parties are related.
The fallacy of “equality”
Secondly, it was exposed just how shallow the claim of “equality” is.
Justice Bell asked the ACT’s solicitor Ms Eastman SC whether a same-sex couple married in the ACT would be “married” for the purposes of any Commonwealth laws which deal with married couples – such as the Evidence Act, which allows a person not to be compelled to give evidence against their spouse in a criminal matter.
Ms Eastman replied that “for Commonwealth laws, they are not recognised as married”.
In the words of Justice Bell, the ACT Act gives “a somewhat limited quality to equality”.
It is not known how the Court will rule next Thursday. It may decide the ACT Act is totally invalid, totally valid, or something in between. Despite the uncertainty, some same-sex couples are planning to wed under the new law on the weekend, even though they may be left without the legal recognition they thought they gained.
Based on legal advice the ACL has received, it seems there are strong grounds for the Court to reject the ACT bill as unconstitutional.
There is a clear case for the importance of a single marriage law for the whole of Australia. Moreover, it was the clear intention of our elected federal parliament to define marriage in Australia as between a man and a woman.
The transcript of the hearing is available
An audio-visual recording is available
The submissions from each party are available
The case was heard before the full bench of the High Court, with the exception of Justice Gageler, who was recused, most likely because of an advice he gave as a private lawyer to the ACT Government regarding their civil union laws in 2006.
The Commonwealth Government's arguments were presented by Commonwealth Solicitor-General Mr Justin Gleeson SC.
The ACT Government's arguments were presented by ACT Solicitor-General Mr Paul Garrisson SC and Ms Kate Eastman SC.
AME was allowed by the Court to make oral and written submissions as an
, or “friend of the court” – a party not connected with the case but with arguments which may assist the Court with their decision. They were represented by Mr Jeremy Kirk SC.
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