Ejusdem generis

Kelly v CFMMEU [2022] FCAFC 130

An application for a secret ballot was made to determine if a division of the union might become a separate organisation12.  One issue was whether the division was a ‘separately identifiable constituent part’ of an amalgamated organisation under a statutory definition.  The union said general words in the definition should be read down by reference to the ejusdem generis (‘of the same kind’) principle13.

Reading down in this manner was rejected by the court because of two things – (A) it was doubtful any genus could be identified here as would activate the principle14 and, importantly, (B) the wider context, legislative history and purpose was against it15.

This principle is from Episode 89 of interpretation NOW!


12 s 94 of the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 (Cth).

13 Episodes 25 & 56 provide further background.

14 Clark (2003) 57 NSWLR 113 (at 143), cf Cody (1947) 74 CLR 629 (at 647).

15 Clark (2003) 57 NSWLR 113 (at 143), cf Vella (2015) 230 FCR 61 (at 77).