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Contents (1987 - 15)
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Interpretation Act 1987 No 15
Current version for 15 September 2015 to date (accessed 21 July 2017 at 12:43)
Part 2
Part 2 Words and expressions
6   Definitions to be read in context
Definitions that occur in an Act or instrument apply to the construction of the Act or instrument except in so far as the context or subject-matter otherwise indicates or requires.
7   Cognate words
If an Act or instrument defines a word or expression, other parts of speech and grammatical forms of the word or expression have corresponding meanings.
8   Gender and number
In any Act or instrument:
(a)  a word or expression that indicates one or more particular genders shall be taken to indicate every other gender,
(b)  a reference to a word or expression in the singular form includes a reference to the word or expression in the plural form,
(c)  a reference to a word or expression in the plural form includes a reference to the word or expression in the singular form,
(d)  a reference to a person does not exclude a reference to a corporation merely because elsewhere in the Act or instrument there is particular reference to a corporation (in whatever terms expressed), and
(e)  a reference to a person does not exclude a reference to an individual merely because elsewhere in the Act or instrument there is particular reference to an individual (in whatever terms expressed).
9   Meaning of may and shall
(1)  In any Act or instrument, the word “may”, if used to confer a power, indicates that the power may be exercised or not, at discretion.
(2)  In any Act or instrument, the word “shall”, if used to impose a duty, indicates that the duty must be performed.
10   Construction of amending Acts and instruments
Words and expressions that occur in an Act or instrument that amends or repeals some other Act or instrument have the same meanings as they have in the other Act or instrument.
11   Words etc in instruments under an Act have same meanings as in the Act
Words and expressions that occur in an instrument have the same meanings as they have in the Act, or in the relevant provisions of the Act, under which the instrument is made.
12   References to New South Wales to be implied
(1)  In any Act or instrument:
(a)  a reference to an officer, office or statutory body is a reference to such an officer, office or statutory body in and for New South Wales, and
(b)  a reference to a locality, jurisdiction or other matter or thing is a reference to such a locality, jurisdiction or other matter or thing in and of New South Wales.
(2)  In any Act or instrument, a reference to a body constituted by or under an Act or instrument need not include the words “New South Wales” or “of New South Wales” merely because those words form part of the body’s name or title.
13   Sovereign and Crown
In any Act or instrument:
(a)  a reference to the Sovereign (whether the words “Her Majesty” or “His Majesty” or any other words are used) is a reference to the Sovereign for the time being, and
(b)  a reference to the Crown is a reference to the Crown in right of New South Wales.
13A   NSW Government agencies and statutory bodies representing the Crown
(1)  If an Act provides that a body is:
(a)  a NSW Government agency, or
(b)  a statutory body representing the Crown,
the body has the status, privileges and immunities of the Crown.
(2)  If an Act provides that a body:
(a)  is not or does not represent the Crown, or
(b)  is not a NSW Government agency or a statutory body representing the Crown,
the body does not have the status, privileges and immunities of the Crown.
(3)  This section extends (without limiting its operation):
(a)  to a provision that is expressed to be made for the purposes of any Act or more generally, and
(b)  to privileges and immunities conferred by law expressly or as a matter of construction.
(4)  In any Act or instrument:
(a)  a reference to a NSW Government agency includes a reference to a body that is declared to be a statutory body representing the Crown, or
(b)  a reference to a statutory body representing the Crown includes a reference to a body that is declared to be a NSW Government agency.
(5)  In this section, the Crown includes the State and the Government of the State.
14   Governor
In any Act or instrument, a reference to the Governor is a reference to the Governor with the advice of the Executive Council, and includes a reference to any person for the time being lawfully administering the Government.
15   Minister
(1)  In any Act or instrument:
(a)  a reference to a Minister is a reference to a Minister of the Crown, and
(b)  a reference to a particular Minister includes a reference to any other Minister who is acting for or on behalf of the Minister.
(2)  In any Act, a reference to “the Minister” is a reference to:
(a)  the Minister administering the Act,
(b)  if different Ministers are administering the Act in different respects—the Minister administering the Act in the relevant respect,
(c)  if different Ministers are administering different portions of the Act—the Minister administering the relevant portion of the Act, or
(d)  if paragraphs (b) and (c) do not apply and 2 or more Ministers are administering that Act or a portion of that Act—any one of the Ministers administering the Act or portion of the Act.
(3)  In any instrument, a reference to “the Minister” is a reference to:
(a)  the Minister administering the Act under which the instrument is made,
(b)  if different Ministers are administering that Act in different respects—the Minister administering that Act in the respect in relation to which the instrument is made,
(c)  if different Ministers are administering different portions of that Act—the Minister administering the portion of that Act under which the instrument is made, or
(d)  if paragraphs (b) and (c) do not apply and 2 or more Ministers are administering that Act or a portion of that Act—any one of the Ministers administering the Act or the portion of the Act under which the instrument is made.
16   British subjects and aliens
(1)  In any Act or instrument:
(a)  a reference to a British subject, or to a natural-born or naturalised subject of Her Majesty or to any other similar expression, is a reference to:
(i)  an Australian citizen, or
(ii)  any other person who would, had the relevant Commonwealth law continued in force, be a person who has the status of a British subject or the status of a British subject without citizenship, and
(b)  a reference to an alien is a reference to a person who would, had the relevant Commonwealth law continued in force, be a person who is an alien within the meaning of that law.
(2)  If a rule of law applies to or in relation to, or has effect with respect to, a British subject, the rule of law shall apply to or in relation to, or have effect with respect to:
(a)  an Australian citizen, and
(b)  any other person who would, had the relevant Commonwealth law continued in force, be a person who has the status of a British subject or the status of a British subject without citizenship,
as if the Australian citizen or other person were a British subject.
(3)  If a rule of law applies to or in relation to, or has effect with respect to, an alien, the rule of law shall apply to or in relation to, or have effect with respect to, a person who would, had the relevant Commonwealth law continued in force, be a person who is an alien within the meaning of that law.
(4)  In this section, a reference to the relevant Commonwealth law is a reference to:
(a)  the Australian Citizenship Act 1948 of the Commonwealth, as in force immediately before the commencement of this subsection, and
(b)  the regulations in force immediately before the commencement of this subsection under the Australian Citizenship Act 1948 of the Commonwealth, as so in force.
17   Public Seal of the State
In any Act or instrument, a reference to:
(a)  the Great Seal of the State, or
(b)  the Seal of the State,
shall be read as a reference to the Public Seal of the State.
18   Sitting days
In any Act or statutory rule:
(a)  a reference to a sitting day, in relation to a House of Parliament, is a reference to a day on which the House actually sits, and
(b)  a reference to a number of sitting days, in relation to a House of Parliament, is a reference to that number of sitting days, regardless of whether those days occur within the same or within different sessions of Parliament.
19   Holders of offices
(1)  In any Act or instrument, a reference to a particular officer or to the holder of a particular office includes a reference to the person for the time being occupying or acting in the office concerned.
(2)  The office of chairperson, chairman or chairwoman may be referred to by whichever of those words is appropriate in relation to the particular holder of that office.
20   References to statutory rules etc
In any Act:
by-law means a by-law made under the Act in which that word occurs.
ordinance means an ordinance made under the Act in which that word occurs.
prescribed means prescribed by, or by a statutory rule made under, the Act in which that word occurs.
regulation means a regulation made under the Act in which that word occurs.
rule means a rule made under the Act in which that word occurs.
21   Meanings of commonly used words and expressions
(1)  In any Act or instrument:
affidavit, in the case of persons for the time being allowed by law to affirm, declare or promise, includes affirmation, declaration and promise.
amend, in relation to an Act or instrument, includes alter and vary.
ASC Law has the same meaning as ASIC Law.
ASC Regulations has the same meaning as ASIC Regulations when used in relation to the ASIC Law.
ASIC Law has the meaning provided for by Part 11 of the Corporations (New South Wales) Act 1990.
ASIC Regulations:
(a)  when used in relation to the ASIC Law, has the meaning provided for by Part 11 of the Corporations (New South Wales) Act 1990,
(b)  when used in relation to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001 of the Commonwealth, means regulations made under, or taken to be made under, that Act.
Australia means the Commonwealth of Australia but, when used in a geographical sense, does not include an external Territory.
Australia Acts means the Australia Act 1986 of the Commonwealth and the Australia Act 1986 of the United Kingdom.
Australian lawyer means a person admitted to the Australian legal profession.
Australian legal practitioner means an Australian lawyer who holds a current Australian practising certificate.
authorised deposit-taking institution or ADI means an authorised deposit-taking institution within the meaning of the Banking Act 1959 of the Commonwealth.
bank means:
(a)  a bank as defined by section 5 of the Banking Act 1959 of the Commonwealth, or
(b)  a bank constituted under a law of a State or Territory.
British Act or Imperial Act means an Act of the British Parliament.
British Parliament or Imperial Parliament means:
(a)  the Parliament of England,
(b)  the Parliament of Great Britain,
(c)  the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, or
(d)  the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,
as the case requires.
calendar month means a period commencing at the beginning of a day of one of the 12 named months and ending:
(a)  immediately before the beginning of the corresponding day of the next named month, or
(b)  if there is no such corresponding day, at the end of the next named month.
calendar year means a period of 12 months commencing on 1 January.
committal proceedings means proceedings for the purpose of deciding whether a person charged with an offence should be committed for trial or sentence.
Commonwealth means the Commonwealth of Australia but, when used in a geographical sense, does not include an external Territory.
Commonwealth Constitution means the Constitution of the Commonwealth.
Consolidated Fund means the fund formed as referred to in section 39 of the Constitution Act 1902.
contravene includes fail to comply with.
Corporations Law has the meaning provided for by Part 3 of the Corporations (New South Wales) Act 1990.
Corporations legislation means the Corporations legislation to which Part 1.1A of the Corporations Act 2001 of the Commonwealth applies.
Corporations Regulations:
(a)  when used in relation to the Corporations Law, has the meaning provided for by Part 3 of the Corporations (New South Wales) Act 1990, or
(b)  when used in relation to the Corporations Act 2001 of the Commonwealth, means regulations made under, or taken to be made under, that Act.
date of assent, in relation to an Act, means the day on which the Act receives the Royal Assent.
definition means a provision of an Act or instrument (however expressed) that:
(a)  gives a meaning to a word or expression, or
(b)  limits or extends the meaning of a word or expression.
document means any record of information, and includes:
(a)  anything on which there is writing, or
(b)  anything on which there are marks, figures, symbols or perforations having a meaning for persons qualified to interpret them, or
(c)  anything from which sounds, images or writings can be reproduced with or without the aid of anything else, or
(d)  a map, plan, drawing or photograph.
enrolled nurse means a person registered under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law:
(a)  to practise in the nursing and midwifery profession as a nurse (other than as a student), and
(b)  in the enrolled nurses division of that profession.
environmental planning instrument means an environmental planning instrument within the meaning of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.
estate includes interest, charge, right, title, claim, demand, lien and encumbrance, whether at law or in equity.
Executive Council means the Executive Council of New South Wales.
external Territory means a Territory, not being an internal Territory, for the government of which as a Territory provision is made by a Commonwealth Act.
foreign country means any country (whether or not an independent sovereign state) outside Australia and its external Territories.
Gazette or Government Gazette means the New South Wales Government Gazette published in print or on the NSW legislation website.
Government means the Government of New South Wales.
Government Printer means the Government Printer of New South Wales, and includes any other person authorised by or on behalf of the Government to print any Act or instrument or other document.
Health Practitioner Regulation National Law means:
(a)  the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law:
(i)  as in force from time to time, set out in the Schedule to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act 2009 of Queensland, and
(ii)  as it applies as a law of New South Wales or another State or a Territory, or
(b)  the law of another State or a Territory that substantially corresponds to the law referred to in paragraph (a).
High Court means the High Court of Australia.
indictable offence means an offence for which proceedings may be taken on indictment, whether or not proceedings for the offence may also be taken otherwise than on indictment.
individual means a natural person.
internal Territory means the Australian Capital Territory, the Jervis Bay Territory or the Northern Territory.
Jervis Bay Territory means the Territory referred to in the Jervis Bay Territory Acceptance Act 1915 of the Commonwealth.
land includes messuages, tenements and hereditaments, corporeal and incorporeal, of any tenure or description, and whatever may be the estate or interest therein.
Legislative Assembly means the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales.
Legislative Council means the Legislative Council of New South Wales.
local council means a council within the meaning of the Local Government Act 1993.
Local Court means the Local Court established under the Local Court Act 2007.
Magistrate means a Magistrate appointed under the Local Court Act 2007.
make, in relation to an instrument, includes issue and grant.
mentally incapacitated person means a person who is an involuntary patient or a forensic patient or a correctional patient within the meaning of the Mental Health Act 2007, or a protected person within the meaning of the NSW Trustee and Guardian Act 2009.
midnight, in relation to a particular day, means the point of time at which that day ends.
minor means an individual who is under the age of 18 years.
minor indictable offence means an indictable offence that is not a serious indictable offence.
month means a calendar month.
named month means January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November or December.
National Electricity (NSW) Law means the provisions applying because of section 6 of the National Electricity (New South Wales) Act 1997.
National Electricity (NSW) Regulations means the provisions applying because of section 7 of the National Electricity (New South Wales) Act 1997.
National Gas (NSW) Law means the provisions applying because of section 7 of the National Gas (New South Wales) Act 2008.
National Gas (NSW) Regulations means the provisions applying because of section 8 of the National Gas (New South Wales) Act 2008.
Northern Territory means the Northern Territory of Australia.
NSW Health Service means the NSW Health Service referred to in the Health Services Act 1997.
NSW legislation website means the website with the URL of www.legislation.nsw.gov.au, or any other website, used by the Parliamentary Counsel to provide public access to the legislation of New South Wales.
NSW Police Force means the NSW Police Force established by the Police Act 1990.
nurse means an enrolled nurse or a registered nurse.
oath, in the case of persons for the time being allowed by law to affirm, declare or promise, includes affirmation, declaration and promise.
office includes position.
Parliament means the Parliament of New South Wales.
party includes an individual, a corporation and a body corporate or politic.
penalty includes forfeiture and punishment.
penalty unit is defined in section 17 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999.
person includes an individual, a corporation and a body corporate or politic.
police officer means a member of the NSW Police Force who is a police officer within the meaning of the Police Act 1990.
proclamation means a proclamation of the Governor published in the Gazette or on the NSW legislation website.
property means any legal or equitable estate or interest (whether present or future and whether vested or contingent) in real or personal property of any description, including money, and includes things in action.
Public Service or NSW Public Service means the Public Service referred to in the Government Sector Employment Act 2013.
registered dentist or dentist means a person registered under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law:
(a)  to practise in the dental profession as a dentist (other than as a student), and
(b)  in the dentists division of that profession.
registered medical practitioner or medical practitioner means a person registered under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law to practise as a medical practitioner (other than as a student).
registered midwife or midwife means a person registered under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law to practise as a midwife (other than as a student).
registered nurse means a person registered under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law:
(a)  to practise in the nursing and midwifery profession as a nurse (other than as a student), and
(b)  in the registered nurses division of that profession.
registered optometrist or optometrist means a person registered under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law to practise in the optometry profession (other than as a student).
registered pharmacist or pharmacist means a person registered under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law to practise as a pharmacist (other than as a student).
registered physiotherapist or physiotherapist means a person registered under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law to practise in the physiotherapy profession (other than as a student).
registered podiatrist or podiatrist means a person registered under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law to practise in the podiatry profession (other than as a student).
registered psychologist or psychologist means a person registered under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law to practise as a psychologist (other than as a student).
Registrar-General means the person employed in the Public Service as the Registrar-General.
repeal, in relation to an instrument, includes revoke and rescind.
rules of court, in relation to a court or tribunal, means rules made by the person or body having power to make rules regulating the practice and procedure of the court or tribunal.
serious indictable offence means an indictable offence that is punishable by imprisonment for life or for a term of 5 years or more.
sign includes the affixing of a seal and the making of a mark.
Standards Australia means Standards Australia International Limited (ACN 087 326 690), and includes a reference to the Standards Association of Australia as constituted before 1 July 1999.
State means a State of the Commonwealth.
State industrial instrument means an industrial instrument within the meaning of the Industrial Relations Act 1996.
State owned corporation means a State owned corporation within the meaning of the State Owned Corporations Act 1989.
statutory declaration means a declaration made by virtue of any Act authorising a declaration to be made instead of an oath.
statutory rule means:
(a)  a regulation, by-law, rule or ordinance:
(i)  that is made by the Governor, or
(ii)  that is made by a person or body other than the Governor, but is required by law to be approved or confirmed by the Governor, or
(b)  a rule of court.
summary offence means an offence that is not an indictable offence.
swear, in the case of persons for the time being allowed by law to affirm, declare or promise, includes affirm, declare and promise.
Teaching Service means the Teaching Service of New South Wales referred to in the Teaching Service Act 1980.
Territory means a Territory of the Commonwealth.
the State means the State of New South Wales.
Transport Service means the Transport Service of New South Wales referred to in the Transport Administration Act 1988.
United Kingdom means the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
writing includes printing, photography, photocopying, lithography, typewriting and any other mode of representing or reproducing words in visible form.
(2)  In any Act passed before the commencement of this Act, and in any instrument made under such an Act:
Colony, in relation to any part of Australia, means the State or Territory that corresponds to that part of Australia.
the Colony means the State of New South Wales.
(3)  In any Act or instrument:
(a)  a reference to an offence that is punishable by imprisonment for a specified term or more includes a reference to a common law offence, and
(b)  a reference to an offence that is punishable by imprisonment for a specified term or more includes a reference to an offence punishable by imprisonment for life.
21A, 21B   (Repealed)
21C   References to de facto partners and de facto relationships
(1) Meaning of “de facto partner” For the purposes of any Act or instrument, a person is the de facto partner of another person (whether of the same sex or a different sex) if:
(a)  the person is in a registered relationship or interstate registered relationship with the other person within the meaning of the Relationships Register Act 2010, or
(b)  the person is in a de facto relationship with the other person.
(2) Meaning of “de facto relationship” For the purposes of any Act or instrument, a person is in a de facto relationship with another person if:
(a)  they have a relationship as a couple living together, and
(b)  they are not married to one another or related by family.
A de facto relationship can exist even if one of the persons is legally married to someone else or in a registered relationship or interstate registered relationship with someone else.
(3) Determination of “relationship as a couple” In determining whether 2 persons have a relationship as a couple for the purposes of subsection (2), all the circumstances of the relationship are to be taken into account, including any of the following matters that are relevant in a particular case:
(a)  the duration of the relationship,
(b)  the nature and extent of their common residence,
(c)  whether a sexual relationship exists,
(d)  the degree of financial dependence or interdependence, and any arrangements for financial support, between them,
(e)  the ownership, use and acquisition of property,
(f)  the degree of mutual commitment to a shared life,
(g)  the care and support of children,
(h)  the performance of household duties,
(i)  the reputation and public aspects of the relationship.
No particular finding in relation to any of those matters is necessary in determining whether 2 persons have a relationship as a couple.
(4) Meaning of “related by family” For the purposes of subsection (2), 2 persons are related by family if:
(a)  one is the child (including an adopted child) of the other, or
(b)  one is another descendant of the other (even if the relationship between them is traced through an adoptive parent), or
(c)  they have a parent in common (including an adoptive parent of either or both of them).
(5)  Subsection (4) applies:
(a)  even if an adoption has been declared void or is of no effect, and
(b)  to adoptions under the law of any place (whether in or out of Australia) relating to the adoption of children.
(6)  Subsection (4) applies in relation to a child whose parentage is transferred as a result of a parentage order, or an Interstate parentage order, within the meaning of the Surrogacy Act 2010 in the same way as it applies in relation to an adopted child, even if the parentage order is discharged or otherwise ceases to have effect. For that purpose, a reference in that subsection to an adoptive parent is to be read as a reference to a person to whom the parentage of a child is transferred under such a parentage order.