Frequent amendment

DMQ20 v Minister [2023] FCAFC 84

Generally, the same expression in a statute takes the same meaning, while different expressions indicate different meanings.  This is not to be pressed too far, and ‘is of very slight force’ if the words are clear7.

The presumption is also muted where differences in wording can be attributed to the scope or frequency of amendment8.  This is another manifestation of the impact of context on interpretation.  In the present case, variations in reference to the ‘Australian community’ within the statute were seen as ‘nothing of substance’ in the context of a ministerial discretion to deny a protection visa on the basis that the applicant ‘is a danger to the Australian community’9.

This principle is from Episode 98 of interpretation NOW!


7 Lennon (1921) 29 CLR 579 (at 590), Stewart [2020] FCAFC 196 (at [44]).

8 Robert Bosch [2011] FCA 1133 (at [35]), Pearce 9th Edition (at [4.9]).

9 s 36(1C)(b) Migration Act 1958, cf SLGS [2023] FCAFC 104 (at [76, 82-83]).