Severance & exclusion

Spence v Queensland [2019] HCA 15

This case involved the validity of provisions that purport to enable retention of gifts for non-electoral purposes.  Section 15A of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 requires Acts to be read subject to the Constitution, and any enactment in excess of power ‘shall nevertheless be a valid enactment to the extent to which it is not in excess of that power’. 

The High Court held that s 3025 was valid in part, but that s 15A could not save what remained.  This was because that part was not ‘unchanged’, and it was beyond judicial power to remedy the defect6Spence illustrates the preservation policy behind s 15A, but that it operates as no cure-all in practice7.  

This case is from Episode 49 of interpretationNOW!


5 Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918.

6 Pidoto v Victoria (1943) 68 CLR 87 (at 108, 111) cited.

7 cf Episode 7, NAAJA [2015] HCA 41 (at [75-78]).