The Federation Press

Work Choices

What the High Court said


Andrew Stewart and George Williams, leading scholars and media commentators, explain what has been called the most important decision of the Australian High Court since the Tasmanian Dam Case in 1983.

They show what was being argued and why it was being argued, as well as what was decided and the implications for Australia’s future.

They include key passages of the majority judgment, and from the dissents of Justices Kirby and Callinan.

Is this “a destabilising intrusion of direct federal lawmaking into areas of legislation which, since federation, have been the subjects of State laws” (Justice Kirby)?

Might it reduce State Parliaments to “impotent debating societies” (Justice Callinan)?


The background chapters provide an excellent overview of the historical limits of federal power read into the Constitution through successive High Court decisions. This would be particularly useful for academics, students and practitioners of law and industrial relations....Of interest to many readers will be the analysis of the judges on the High Court, and the book provides commentaries on carefully selected extracts from the judgements on key issues raised in the case. - Labour & Industry, Vol 18 No 2, December 2007

Table of Contents

Part I - Background

Australia’s Federal System
Labour Relations and the Constitution
The Work Choices Legislation
The Constitutional Challenge

Part II - The Decision
Interpreting the Constitution The Scope of the Corporations Power The Relationship Between the Corporations Power and the Industrial Arbitration Power Excluding State Laws Making Law Through Regulations Other Issues

Part III - The Implications
What it Means for Labour Relations What it Means for the Federation

Extracts from the Australian ConstitutionSelect BibliographyIndex

Of interest...