Statutes – Construction – Media law – Trade law

Project Blue Sky v ABA [1998] HCA 28; 194 CLR 355; 153 ALR 490; 72 ALJR 841 (28 April 1998).

“Statutes – Construction – Reconciliation of conflicting provisions – Intention of legislature – Presumption that provisions intended to achieve consistent goals – Leading and subordinate provisions – Grammatical meaning and legal meaning.

Statutes – Construction – Acts done in breach of a condition regulating a statutory power – Whether invalid – Mandatory and directory provisions – Purpose-based test.

Media law – Television – Regulation of programming – Australian Broadcasting Authority – Standard prescribing Australian content requirements – Whether inconsistent with legislative requirement that functions be performed consistently with Australia’s international obligations.

Media law – Television – Regulation of programming – Australian Broadcasting Authority – Power to make standards that “relate to … the Australian content of programs” – Whether restricted to standards conferring preferential treatment.

Trade law – Australia New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement.”

Statutory construction is to start with an examination of the provision to be construed. When determining the validity of an act done in breach of a statutory provision, the test is “to ask whether it was a purpose of the legislation that an act done in breach of the provision should be invalid”, rather than to “use the elusive distinction between mandatory and directive requirements”.  The purpose is determined by consideration of “the language of the relevant provision and the scope and object of the whole statute.”

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