Attorney-General (NSW) v Trethowan [1931] HCA 3 | 16 March 1931

ON THIS DAY IN 1931 the High Court of Australia delivered Attorney-General (NSW) v Trethowan [1931] HCA 3; (1931) 44 CLR 394 ( 16 March  1931).

In 1929, the Constitution Act 1902 (NSW) was amended with the enactment of s7A, which contained a manner and form provision that a bill for the abolition of the NSW upper house (Legislative Council) could not be presented to the Governor for Royal Assent unless the bill was passed by both houses of the state parliament and then approved by a popular referendum.

In 1931, both houses passed a bill for the abolition of s7A and a bill for the abolition of the Legislative Council. The bill for the abolition of the Legislative Council was not approved by popular referendum.

Before the bills could be presented to the Governor for Royal Assent, Trethowan and another councillor obtained a decree from the NSW Supreme Court which in effect restrained the Government from presenting the bills to the Governor. The persons restrained (the defendants) included the NSW Attorney-General, the President of the Legislative Council, the Premier and the other Ministers of the Crown for NSW.

The High Court of Australia dismissed an appeal by the defendants, upholding the validity and binding effect of s7A.


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