Sunland Group v Gold Coast CC [2021] HCA 35

A developer argued that it was subject to lower infrastructure contributions under earlier DA conditions rather than at a higher rate under later planning legislation.  All the judges rejected this.

Gordon J (at [18-19]) emphasised that the duty to attribute legal meaning to the text ‘remains constant, regardless of whether the words of a statutory provision are uncertain or unclear’5.  There is ‘no void-for-vagueness doctrine in Australia’, the judge added6.  As Steward J further pointed out (at [58]), DA conditions as statutory instruments are ‘not construed by recourse to those principles directed at saving bargains between consensual parties’7.

This principle is from Episode 79 of interpretation NOW!


5 Brown [2017] HCA 43 (at [452]), Kennedy [1985] 1 Qd R 48 (at 49) cited.

6 cf Chevron [2015] FCA 1092 (at [551]), EHL [2015] VSCA 269 (at [74]).

7 King Gee (1945) 71 CLR 184 (at 195), Cann’s (1946) 71 CLR 210 (at 227-228).