High Court of Australia

Williams v Commonwealth of Australia [2012] HCA 23

248 CLR 156; 85 ALJR 740; 288 ALR 208

20 Jun 2012

Case Number: S307/2010

Before

French CJ, Gummow, Hayne, Heydon, Crennan, Kiefel, Bell JJ

Catchwords

Constitutional law − Executive power of Commonwealth − Commonwealth entered funding agreement with private service provider for provision of chaplaincy services at State school ("Funding Agreement") − Funding Agreement made pursuant to National School Chaplaincy Program − Whether executive power of Commonwealth extends to matters in respect of which Parliament may legislate − Whether s 61 of Constitution or s 44(1) of Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 (Cth) ("FMA Act") source of power to enter Funding Agreement − Whether s 61 of Constitution or s 44(1) of FMA Act source of power to pay service provider.

Constitutional law − Powers of Commonwealth Parliament − Whether law providing for payments in circumstances identical to Funding Agreement would be law with respect to s 51(xx) of Constitution − Whether law providing for payments in circumstances identical to Funding Agreement would be law with respect to s 51(xxiiiA) of Constitution.

Constitutional law − Freedom of religion − Prohibition on religious tests as qualification for any office under Commonwealth − Under Funding Agreement
– "school chaplain" to provide services − Whether "school chaplain" holds office under Commonwealth − Whether Funding Agreement or payments to service provider prohibited by s 116 of Constitution.

Constitutional law − Appropriations of moneys from Consolidated Revenue Fund − Commonwealth paid appropriated moneys to service provider pursuant to Funding Agreement − Whether Appropriation Acts authorised appropriations of moneys for purpose of payments under Funding Agreement.

Constitutional law − Standing − Plaintiff's children attended State school party to Funding Agreement − Whether plaintiff has standing to challenge validity of Funding Agreement − Whether plaintiff has standing to challenge validity of appropriations to pay moneys pursuant to Funding Agreement − Whether plaintiff has standing to challenge validity of payments to service provider.

Words and phrases
– "appropriation", "benefits to students", "capacity to contract", "execution and maintenance of this Constitution", "executive power of the Commonwealth", "office under the Commonwealth", "ordinary and well-recognised functions", "religious test".

Constitution – ss 51(xx), 51(xxiiiA), 61, 64, 81, 96 and 116.

Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 (Cth) – s 44(1).
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