Learning from Experience: Interpreting the Interpretive Provisions in Australian Human Rights Legislation
Human rights legislation in the Australian Capital Territory (‘ACT’), Victoria and Queensland contains interpretive provisions to the effect that legislation is to be interpreted consistently or compatibly with the rights set out in the relevant statute. This article is an attempt to analyse these interpretive provisions as a matter of statutory interpretation; that is, the rules of statutory interpretation are applied to the interpretive provisions. Courts in the ACT and Victoria have interpreted the provisions as conferring modest powers, similar to the common law principle of legality. As a matter of the application of the principles of statutory interpretation, this appears to be the correct approach. Queensland courts may be expected to follow their ACT and Victorian counterparts in this respect.