Harmony rules, OK!

Universal Property v BCC [2020] NSWCA 106

The old idea that parliament does not intend to contradict itself14 finds modern emphasis in the ‘principle of harmonious operation’15.  Brought to attention in Project Blue Sky, this requires harmony to be sought for warring provisions within and between statutes of the same legislature.  Implied repeal only occurs where ‘actual contrariety is clearly apparent’. 

Basten JA (at [12]) said the ‘search for harmonious operation’ applies even more to instruments administered by the same department within a ‘single broad subject matter’ – here, environmental planning instruments.  iTip – seek peace not war in the land of statutes wherever reasonably possible.

This principle is from Episode 62 of interpretation NOW!


14 Garnett (1878) 3 App Cas 944 (at 966), Butler (1961) 106 CLR 268 (at 276).

15 Eaton [2013] HCA 2 (at [98]), cf Tomaras [2018] HCA 62 (at [125]).