Round 2 of Chaplains case in High Court today

A follow-up to the School Chaplains case will be heard by the High Court today, again challenging expenditure by the Commonwealth government that is not backed by specific legislation. The earlier decision upheld the separation of powers by requiring legislative approval before the executive could spend taxpayers’ money. The Gillard Government responded with legislation that gave a general authorisation without specifying which programs were covered—today’s challenge will decide if that is sufficient. Professor George Williams thinks the Commonwealth will probably lose, and says, “What’s under challenge is the Commonwealth’s ability to give money to whomever it wants, whenever it wants. It’s hard to overplay the significance of this case. This goes to the very structure of how we are governed.”