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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 22 July 2017 at 20:51)
Part 5
Part 5 Construction of Acts and instruments
31   Acts and instruments to be construed so as not to exceed the legislative power of Parliament
(1)  An Act or instrument shall be construed as operating to the full extent of, but so as not to exceed, the legislative power of Parliament.
(2)  If any provision of an Act or instrument, or the application of any such provision to any person, subject-matter or circumstance, would, but for this section, be construed as being in excess of the legislative power of Parliament:
(a)  it shall be a valid provision to the extent to which it is not in excess of that power, and
(b)  the remainder of the Act or instrument, and the application of the provision to other persons, subject-matters or circumstances, shall not be affected.
(3)  This section applies to an Act or instrument in addition to, and without limiting the effect of, any provision of the Act or instrument.
32   Instruments to be construed so as not to exceed the powers conferred by the Acts under which they are made
(1)  An instrument shall be construed as operating to the full extent of, but so as not to exceed, the power conferred by the Act under which it is made.
(2)  If any provision of an instrument, or the application of any such provision to any person, subject-matter or circumstance, would, but for this section, be construed as being in excess of the power conferred by the Act under which it is made:
(a)  it shall be a valid provision to the extent to which it is not in excess of that power, and
(b)  the remainder of the instrument, and the application of the provision to other persons, subject-matters or circumstances, shall not be affected.
(3)  This section applies to an instrument in addition to, and without limiting the effect of, any provision of the instrument or of the Act under which it is made.
33   Regard to be had to purposes or objects of Acts and statutory rules
In the interpretation of a provision of an Act or statutory rule, a construction that would promote the purpose or object underlying the Act or statutory rule (whether or not that purpose or object is expressly stated in the Act or statutory rule or, in the case of a statutory rule, in the Act under which the rule was made) shall be preferred to a construction that would not promote that purpose or object.
34   Use of extrinsic material in the interpretation of Acts and statutory rules
(1)  In the interpretation of a provision of an Act or statutory rule, if any material not forming part of the Act or statutory rule is capable of assisting in the ascertainment of the meaning of the provision, consideration may be given to that material:
(a)  to confirm that the meaning of the provision is the ordinary meaning conveyed by the text of the provision (taking into account its context in the Act or statutory rule and the purpose or object underlying the Act or statutory rule and, in the case of a statutory rule, the purpose or object underlying the Act under which the rule was made), or
(b)  to determine the meaning of the provision:
(i)  if the provision is ambiguous or obscure, or
(ii)  if the ordinary meaning conveyed by the text of the provision (taking into account its context in the Act or statutory rule and the purpose or object underlying the Act or statutory rule and, in the case of a statutory rule, the purpose or object underlying the Act under which the rule was made) leads to a result that is manifestly absurd or is unreasonable.
(2)  Without limiting the effect of subsection (1), the material that may be considered in the interpretation of a provision of an Act, or a statutory rule made under the Act, includes:
(a)  all matters not forming part of the Act that are set out in the document containing the text of the Act as printed by the Government Printer,
(b)  any relevant report of a Royal Commission, Law Reform Commission, committee of inquiry or other similar body that was laid before either House of Parliament before the provision was enacted or made,
(c)  any relevant report of a committee of Parliament or of either House of Parliament before the provision was enacted or made,
(d)  any treaty or other international agreement that is referred to in the Act,
(e)  any explanatory note or memorandum relating to the Bill for the Act, or any other relevant document, that was laid before, or furnished to the members of, either House of Parliament by a Minister or other member of Parliament introducing the Bill before the provision was enacted or made,
(f)  the speech made to a House of Parliament by a Minister or other member of Parliament on the occasion of the moving by that Minister or member of a motion that the Bill for the Act be read a second time in that House,
(g)  any document (whether or not a document to which a preceding paragraph applies) that is declared by the Act to be a relevant document for the purposes of this section, and
(h)  any relevant material in the Minutes of Proceedings or the Votes and Proceedings of either House of Parliament or in any official record of debates in Parliament or either House of Parliament.
(3)  In determining whether consideration should be given to any material, or in considering the weight to be given to any material, regard shall be had, in addition to any other relevant matters, to:
(a)  the desirability of persons being able to rely on the ordinary meaning conveyed by the text of the provision (taking into account its context in the Act or statutory rule and the purpose or object underlying the Act or statutory rule and, in the case of a statutory rule, the purpose or object underlying the Act under which the rule was made), and
(b)  the need to avoid prolonging legal or other proceedings without compensating advantage.
34A   Declaration of validity of certain laws
Each provision of an Act or statutory rule enacted or made, or purporting to have been enacted or made, before the commencement of the Australia Acts:
(a)  has the same effect as it would have had, and
(b)  is as valid as it would have been,
if the Australia Acts had been in operation at the time of its enactment or making, or purported enactment or making.
35   Headings etc
(1)  Headings to provisions of an Act or instrument, being headings to:
(a)  Chapters, Parts, Divisions or Subdivisions into which the Act or instrument is divided, or
(b)  Schedules to the Act or instrument,
shall be taken to be part of the Act or instrument.
(2)  Except as provided by subsections (3) and (4):
(a)  a heading to a provision of an Act or instrument (not being a heading referred to in subsection (1)),
(b)  matter within a provision of an Act or instrument (being matter in parentheses that merely sets out a heading to or describes the effect of some other provision of the Act or instrument or of some other Act or instrument), or
(c)  a marginal note, footnote or endnote in an Act or instrument,
shall be taken not to be part of the Act or instrument.
(3)  A heading to a provision of an Act or instrument (not being a heading referred to in subsection (1)) shall be taken to be part of the Act or instrument if, immediately before 1 February 1981 (being the date on which section 3 of the Interpretation (Amendment) Act 1980 commenced), it was part of the Act or instrument.
(4)  A heading to a provision of an Act or instrument (not being a heading referred to in subsection (1)), or a marginal note, footnote or endnote in an Act or instrument, shall be taken to be part of the Act or instrument if:
(a)  it is referred to expressly, otherwise than by means of matter within some other provision of the Act or instrument (being matter in parentheses that merely sets out a heading to or describes the effect of the firstmentioned provision) or by means of a symbol, in some other part of the Act or instrument, or
(b)  not being so referred to, it is a heading, marginal note, footnote or endnote to a table or form in the Act or instrument.
(4A)  The number of a section, subsection, clause or subclause of an Act or instrument is taken to be part of the Act or instrument even though it appears in a heading to the section, subsection, clause or subclause.
(5)  This section does not limit the application of section 34 in relation to the use of any heading, marginal note, footnote or endnote in the interpretation of the provision to which the heading, marginal note, footnote or endnote relates.
36   Reckoning of time
(1)  If in any Act or instrument a period of time, dating from a given day, act or event, is prescribed or allowed for any purpose, the time shall be reckoned exclusive of that day or of the day of that act or event.
(2)  If the last day of a period of time prescribed or allowed by an Act or instrument for the doing of any thing falls:
(a)  on a Saturday or Sunday, or
(b)  on a day that is a public holiday or bank holiday in the place in which the thing is to be or may be done,
the thing may be done on the first day following that is not a Saturday or Sunday, or a public holiday or bank holiday in that place, as the case may be.
(3)  If in any Act or instrument a period of time is prescribed or allowed for the doing of any thing and a power is conferred on any person or body to extend the period of time:
(a)  that power may be exercised, and
(b)  if the exercise of that power depends on the making of an application for an extension of the period of time—such an application may be made,
after the period of time has expired.
37   Age
For the purposes of any Act or instrument, a person attains an age in years at the beginning of the person’s birthday for that age.
38   Measurement of distance
In the measurement of any distance:
(a)  for the purposes of any Act passed before the commencement of this Act, or any instrument made under such an Act, the distance shall be measured according to the nearest route ordinarily used in travelling, and
(b)  for the purposes of any Act passed after the commencement of this Act, or any instrument made under such an Act, the distance shall be measured in a straight line on a horizontal plane.