Episode 102

Gordon Brysland

The Melbourne Cup was run this month and a horse named Interpretation came sixth.  Horseracing and statutory interpretation have one thing in common.  They are both about picking winners.  A degree of ‘interpretation’ may be applied to the form-guide, and there are any number of ‘systems’ dedicated to this exciting pursuit.  They include raw statistics, urban mythology, superstition and the sure-bet ‘trainer talk’.  With statutes, however, there is but one system to determine which meaning wins.  This is the orthodox ‘text>context>purpose>text’ process.  Four things can be noted.  First, all starters run strictly on their merits.  Second, never think you know the winner before the race is over.  Third, you may fox the bookies, but you can’t game the interpretation system.  Fourth, purpose almost invariably crowns the winner1iTip – interpretation … don’t leave it to chance!

Gordon Brysland – Tax Counsel Network gordon.brysland@ato.gov.au

See here for the official PDF of Episode 102 of interpretation NOW!

Thanks – Matt Snibson, Oliver Hood & Annie Huang.


1 s 15AA of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 (Cth), Episode 66.