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This course continues students’ exposure to the field of public law, to which they have been earlier introduced in LAWS1141: Principles of Public Law. In LAWS2150 students engage with the intellectual debates surrounding methods of constitutional interpretation, before embarking on a study of the scope of specific Commonwealth legislative powers of importance in the contemporary operation of Australia’s federal system. The course also examines the effect of express and implied constitutional limitations upon the powers of government – particularly those which protect civil and political rights. Understanding of the scope of valid legislative action is developed through application of propositions of constitutional law to actual and hypothetical legislative instruments. 

 Main Topics

  • Fundamentals of Australian Constitutional Law
  • The High Court and Constitutional Interpretation
  • The High Court and Characterisation
  • Inconsistency of Laws
  • The External Affairs Power
  • The Trade and Commerce Power
  • The Corporations Power
  • The Races Power
  • The Defence Power
  • The Taxation Power – What is a Tax?
  • Fiscal Federalism and the Grants Power
  • Trial by Jury and Freedom of Religion
  • Freedom of Interstate Trade and Commerce
  • Freedom of Political Communication
  • Judicial Power & Detention
  • The Federal Compact: the Melbourne Corporation Principle
Faculty Faculty of Law
Study Level


Offering Terms

Term 1, Term 3



Indicative contact hours


Conditions for Enrolment

Prerequisite: Principle of Public Law (LAWS1141/JURD7141) and Administrative Law (LAWS1160/JURD7160)

Course Outline

To access course outline, please visit:


Pre-2019 Handbook Editions

Access past handbook editions (2018 and prior)

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