Implications for Commonwealth funding as a result of Williams High Court decision

By Paul McGinness and Tom Galvin

The High Court has delivered its highly anticipated decision in Williams v Commonwealth of Australia [2014] HCA 23 (Williams [No. 2]).

The court unanimously held that the legislation, which purported to provide legislative authority for the Commonwealth to enter into agreements to make payments, is invalid in its operation with respect to a funding agreement between the Commonwealth and Scripture Union Queensland (SUQ) for the provision of chaplaincy services in schools.

While not all Commonwealth funding programmes will be jeopardised by this decision, it will raise doubt about the legality of other funding programmes that were the subject of the same legislation…

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