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Limitations Notes

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Limitations Implied intergovernmental immunity: State immunity from Cth laws

3. Is the Cth law limited or invalidated by the implied intergovernmental immunity?

1. Introduction The Commonwealth can pass laws binding States: there is no absolute immunity (Engineers). However, an implied intergovernmental immunity between the State and Commonwealth governments is a limitation in the CC based on the principle of federalism, which requires autonomous and independent State and central governments. In respect of Commonwealth laws binding States, it limits the extent to which Commonwealth Parliament can bind the States. Here, [State government/State govt instrumentality/etc X] will argue that the implied immunity applies to invalidate the application of [law] to it. The law will be invalid in its application to the State/s if it impairs the capacity of a State or States to function as a government (Austin).


Cth will argue it does not so affect the State/s.

2. Does the law impair the States or a State's capacity to function as a government?
In deciding the answer to this overarching question, there are multiple factors which may indicate governmental function is impaired. French CJ in Clarke v Commissioner of Taxation outlined six factors he believed to be relevant to the question, none of which would be decisive alone. The other judges neither accepted nor rejected the CJ's approach, but the factors seem to fairly represent the case law.

1. Whether the law in question singles out one or more of the States and imposes a special burden or disability on them which is not imposed on persons generally.

2. Whether the operation of a law of general application imposes a particular burden or disability on the States.

3. The effect of the law upon the capacity of the States to exercise their constitutional powers.

4. The effect of the law upon the exercise of their functions by the States.

5. The nature of the capacity or functions affected.

6. The subject matter of the law affecting the State or States and in particular the extent to which

the constitutional head of power under which the law is made authorises its discriminatory application.

i. Cth regulation of State employment matters

Where a Cth law is regulating the relationship between a State instrumentality and its employees (public servants), a number of limitations may apply. Here, what may be relevant is that...
...per Australian Education Union, the Cth will be considered to be impairing the ability of the State to function if it interferes with
[General public sector employees]

The State government's right to determine the number and identity of the persons whom it wishes to employ

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