One of the bases for the view that Commonwealth powers should be interpreted broadly is the idea that it is wrong to draw negative implications from positive grants of power. The paper argues that far from being wrong to draw negative implications from positive grants of power it is necessary to do so in that it is impossible to interpret such grants sensibly without drawing negative implications from them. This paper considers Isaacs J’s argument in Huddart Parker that it is wrong to draw negative implications from positive grants of power, as it is the most detailed defence of that position, and the adoption of similar arguments in Work Choices.
It then considers the merits of Isaacs J’s argument, rejecting it because it is impossible to interpret positive grants of power without drawing negative implications from them in any context and in the Australian constitutional context in particular. This paper looks at how the scope of such implications is to be determined and how constitutional grants of power ought to be interpreted in the light of negative implications. It concludes that it is possible to determine the scope of the negative implications implicit in the s 51 grants of power and to interpret those powers in the light of the implications while accepting that state powers are residual and that their content cannot be determined until the content of all Commonwealth powers is known.