Attorney General (Vic), EX Rel Black v Commonwealth ('Dogs case')  HCA 2
The Attorney General of the State of Victoria and other plaintiffs, taxpayers of the Commonwealth of Australia, sought to have a number of statutes of the Commonwealth Parliament declared constitutionally invalid under Article 116 of An Act to constitute the Commonwealth of Australia (i.e. the Australian Constitution). These statutes provided for the transfer of funds from the consolidated revenue to the States, conditional upon the financing of capital and recurrent expenditures of non-governmental schools, some with religious affiliations (mostly with the Roman Catholic Church).
Article 116 states: 'The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth.'
The High Court of Australia, in a unanimous judgment, interprets the first portion of Article 116 as a restriction on the exercise of legislative power, rather than a guarantee of the rights of individuals. Furthermore, according to the High Court, Article 116 only prohibits statutes with the express, direct and sole purpose of establishing a state religion or church as an official institution of the Commonwealth and therefore does not prohibit the funding of schools as provided for by the impugned statutes. Given the above, the High Court concludes that the statutes are constitutionally valid and therefore dismisses the action.
Author Organisation: IBAHRI