The Issue of the Commonwealth's Spending Pattern

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Intro The issue of the Commonwealths spending power?????. The recent High Court decision of Williams’s v Commonwealth [2012] , saw the introduction of significant changes to this area, and the forthcoming Williams v Commonwealth No 2 , currently before the High Court, will likely see issue further developed. The debate surrounding this area has to do with the fact that in addition to the legislative heads of power in sections 51 and 52 of the constitution, there are a number of other constitutional provisions which the federal government has attempted to use as a source of Commonwealth spending power. The two most frequently cited examples being the section 81 Appropriations power and the section 61 Executive power. In considering both of these sections the High Court has come to the conclusion that the scope of the spending powers should be limited. This essay will argue the position that the High Court is justified in this approach and, with reference to the various principles of interpretation set out by the High Court and the notions of Federalism and Responsible Government, will show that limiting the Commonwealths spending powers, outside of the legislative heads of power and the grants power in section 96 is both constitutionally valid and necessary for the democratic process in Australia. The question is asked should the commonwealth be able to spend its money on anything it feels like – including – or should it be limited to expenditure on topics related to

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