School chaplaincy program returns to the High Court. This is good and unsurprising

This week we learnt that Ron Williams, the parent from Queensland who objected to federal government funding for school chaplaincy programs at his kids' school and other public schools, is returning to the High Court. He is challenging the Financial Framework Legislative Amendment that the federal government brazenly rushed through (in just a hours with support of all political parties) in response to the High Court's judgment on this matter last year. In a victory for federalism, the High Court had vehemently rebuked the federal government for exceeding its executive powers under the Constitution and for its unwarranted intrusion into state domains. This verdict put into question not only the chaplaincy program, but hundreds of other federal spending programs as well and was a major driver of the recently dumped "local government" referendum to extend Commonwealth spending powers.

As I argued last year in a paper (pp. 4-5) to the Australian Political Studies Association Conference, it was only a matter of time before this legislation was taken to the High Court, and if the Pape verdict and previous Williams verdict are anything to go by, it will most likely be struck down as unconstitutional. If this occurs, the federal government will be chastised and forced to reformulate the Chaplaincy program, among others, as tied grants with the states.

New perspectives on Australian federalism and school funding

With major reforms and reviews of Australia’s intergovernmental relations and school funding currently underway, the need to understand these complex areas and re-examine common assumptions has never been greater.

I’ll be presenting my recent findings on these contested and interrelated subjects at the upcoming Australian Political Science Association’s Annual Conference: “Connected Globe: Conflicting Worlds”.  My first paper “The evolution of school funding settlements in Australian and the United States: Intergovernmental perspectives” is the first academic paper comparing the two countries’ school finance from this perspective, and is based upon fieldwork and interviews undertaken during my Visiting Scholar position at Columbia University in New York.  My second paper, “Australian federalism and school funding: Exploring the nexus in Victoria’s devolution reforms”, presents a critique of common perceptions and normative models of federalism and policy reform.  Both papers are based on extensive original research and offer insights for policymakers and academics alike.

The APSA conference is being held 27-29 September at the University of Melbourne.  Click here for more information.   Don’t forget that you can access my earlier work by clicking on the ‘Publications, presentations and media’ link found in the bottom-right corner of this screen

Papers! Papers! Papers!

Back in Chicago for the Midwest Political Science Association’s annual conference. My paper is titled ‘The untold story of Australian multiculturalism: How it was shaped from below by ethnic communities’. Here’s the paper, and the PowerPoint.  My presentation to the Comparative and International Education Society’s annual conference, ‘The transformation of the Australian school funding: The changing federal framework’ can be found here. Stay tuned for my papers to Columbia University’s Teachers College ‘Policy Research Roundtable’ (26 April) and the Canadian Political Science Association Annual Conference (1-3 June).