Melbourne v Commonwealth (“Melbourne Corporation case”) or (“State Banking Case”) [1947] HCA 26

ON 13 AUGUST 1947, the High Court of Australia delivered Melbourne v Commonwealth (“State Banking case”) [1947] HCA 26; (1947) 74 CLR 31 (13 August 1947), also known as the Melbourne Corporation case.

The Commonwealth attempted to nationalise Australian banks through the enactment of legislation including s48 of the Banking Act 1945 (Cth). The legislation was enacted under the Commonwealth Parliament’s banking powers under s51 (xxxi) of the Commonwealth Constitution.

The High Court declared s48 to be constitutionally invalid. The court implied, from the federal nature of the Constitution, limitations on the Commonwealth’s express powers. Those limitations were (1) prohibition of discriminatory burdens or disabilities on the States and (2) prohibition of making laws of general application which operate to destroy or curtail the continued existence of the States or their ability to govern.


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