Chaplaincy decision has implications

Attorney-General Nicola Roxon.
Attorney-General Nicola Roxon. Claudia Baxter

A HIGH Court decision declaring school chaplaincy programs unconstitutional would have wider implications for other government grants, Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said on Wednesday.

The court's decision in Williams v Commonwealth on Wednesday found the long-held belief that the government's executive powers extended to grant the money under the current guidelines was invalid under the Constitution.

But the court found that the school chaplaincy program did not breach freedom of religion in the Constitution.

Attorney-General Roxon said the court's decision would have wide-ranging implications for government grant programs, particularly those for local government.

She said the government had already looked at a range of contingency measures for grant programs, but it would need time to come to a final decision.

Ms Roxon said the government may need to look at legislative changes to ensure grant programs continued.

While the school chaplaincy program remained in doubt, Education Minister Peter Garrett said he would ensure the current funding would continue.

He said the program would not be scrapped, and the government would ensure no school chaplains would be out of a job due to the court's decision.

Topics:  chaplaincy high court