Topic: The myth of the Engineers Case and the expansion of the corporations power

Presenter: Mr Michael Stokes - University of Tasmania

The Engineers Case is well known for exploding a doctrine called the reserve powers doctrine. The paper argues that if such a doctrine ever existed, it had been abandoned by the High Court by the time of Huddart Parker v Moorehead. That case agreed that State powers were residual and that exclusive State powers could only be identified after Commonwealth powers had been interpreted. It also accepted that section 107 was not a grant of any definable exclusive powers to the States.

It disagreed with later cases in that it held that limitations on one power were relevant to the interpretation of others. These are express not implied limits.
Engineers did not deal with these arguments only noting that some early cases were influenced by the doctrine of implied prohibitions and would need to be reconsidered. Huddart Parker was not such a case.

As a result, Huddart Parker's arguments for taking limits on one power into account in interpreting others have been rejected without proper consideration. But that rejection is crucial to the expansion of the corporations power which is a wrong turning in Constitutional law.

All welcome, please register by emailing Beth Williams.

Contact: Beth Williams, ph: 334 69350, email:


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