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Support students, respect parliament: Greens propose amendments to High Court response bill

Media Release
Christine Milne 27 Jun 2012

The Greens will today move amendments to the Financial Framework Legislation Amendment Bill (No.3) 2012 that responds to the High Court's decision invalidating the schools chaplaincy program aimed at ensuring that properly qualified people are employed in schools to assist students and that new government programs get appropriate parliamentary scrutiny.

"We understand and respect that existing government programs need guarantees that their funding will not suddenly evaporate, but our amendment would ensure that any new programs come before the parliament to be debated in legislation as the High Court indicated they must," said Australian Greens Leader, Senator Christine Milne.

"In the months ahead, a new balance will need to be struck between the powers of the executive and the parliament. The Greens have always argued for stronger parliamentary scrutiny of the executive, and we welcome the High Court's recognition that the executive has exceeded its powers.

"As to the chaplaincy issue, schools across Australia need the resources to employ properly qualified counsellors, student support officers and other non-teaching staff to assist students and schools. Our amendment calls on the government to change the program to make that a reality."

Greens spokesperson for Legal Affairs, Senator Penny Wright, said the Greens would work with the Government to ensure the continuation of funding of existing programs which are in doubt following the High Court decision.

"It's important that current recipients of funding are given the certainty that they need to continue to operate," Senator Wright said.

"Our amendments seek to do this while maximising the scrutiny of the executive's power to spend public money; this would be a good outcome for democracy."

The Greens' amendment would ensure that, as of 1 January 2013, the government will need legislation to make commitments to spend public money. Between now and 1 January 2013, as a transitional period, the Government would be empowered to use regulations for expenditure of public money.

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