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Tuesday, 12 November 2002
Page: 6144

Senator PATTERSON (Minister for Health and Ageing) (9:08 PM) — Under the federal system that operates in this country, the Commonwealth only has power to legislate with respect to those matters where power is specifically given to it under the Constitution. Legislation relies on the corporations power, the trade and commerce power, the external affairs power, the census and statistics power and the incidental power to provide significant coverage for the activities described by the legislation. It applies to things done by the Commonwealth and Commonwealth authorities as well as entities undertaking interstate trade and commerce.

The heads of powers that support the legislation are set out in clause 4 of both bills, and the Commonwealth has received legal advice indicating that reliance upon these constitutional powers provides the bills with fairly extensive coverage. Many other Commonwealth acts rely on a range of constitutional powers' validity and these bills are certainly not unique in that regard. To ensure that legislation applies to individuals and other entities outside the scope of the Commonwealth bills—for example, state government research facilities—the states and territories have agreed to enact complementary legislation.