What judges say

Virgin Australia Airlines v FCT [2021] FCA 523

This case held that pilots have a ‘primary place of employment’ for FBT purposes11.  Griffiths J (at [80]) cautioned about the ‘danger and inappropriateness of over-emphasising the form of expression by individual judges and treating them as though those expressions were themselves the text of a statute’12.  Interpretation principles represent a ‘settled approach of some clarity’13 – cf editorial above.

We should not hang on every word a judge may use to describe basic principles14.  Interpretation involves the flexible application of principles within our purposive system15.  If there is to be any fundamental change, the High Court or parliament will tell us.

This principle is from Episode 74 of interpretation NOW!


11 s 39A(1) FBTAA86 – ‘pilots work on planes’, Andrew Sommer said.

12 Bay Street [2020] FCAFC 192 (at [3]) cited, cf Fanani [2021] FCA 595 (at [31]).

13 A2 [2019] HCA 35 (at [32]), Bay Street (at [5]), cf Episode 69.

14 Saeed [2010] HCA 23 (at [33]), cf Mondelez [2020] HCA 29 (at 66]).

15 Taylor [2014] HCA 9 (at [37]), Li [2018] SASCFC 52 (at [96]).