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§ 52. “Legislative Power.”

Legislation consists in the making of laws. It is contrasted with the Executive power, whose office is to enforce the law, and with the Judicial power which deals with the interpretation and application of the law in particular cases. “The legislative power of the Commonwealth,” referred to in this section, means the legislative power in respect of matters limited and defined in the Constitution; or, in the words of the corresponding section of the United States Constitution, it means “the legislative power herein granted.” The legislative power so granted and vested in the Federal Parliament does not exhaust the whole of the quasi-sovereign authority of the Commonwealth. A residuum of power continues vested in the States. What is not granted to the federal government and what is not possessed by the States is reserved to the people of the Commonwealth, and may at any time be brought into action by the provision for amendment of the Constitution of the Commonwealth. By the process of amendment further legislative power may be assigned to the Federal Parliament. That Parliament will possess only such authority as is expressly, or by necessary implication, conferred upon it by the Constitution, as it stands, or by amendments which may hereafter be incorporated into and become part of the Constitution.

The power of the Federal Parliament can only be found by searching through the federal constitutional instrument. It has no scrap or particle of authority except such as can be discovered or inferred somewhere within the document. A general enumeration of the legislative powers of the Parliament is given in section 51 of the Constitution. That, however, is not the only section in which legislative power is conferred. Numerous sections may be referred to, in which law-making authority is embedded. Thus every section beginning with the words or containing the words “until the parliament otherwise provides” contains a grant of legislative power. Other sections not so plainly identifiable are of the same effect; such as sec. 27—the Parliament may alter the number of members of the House of Representatives; Chapter III.—the Parliament may create inferior federal courts and make other judiciary arrangements; sec. 94—the Parliament may distribute the surplus revenue; sec. 102—the Parliament may forbid preferences and discriminations by States; sec. 104—the Parliament may take over the public debts of the States; Chapter VI.—The Parliament may admit new States, govern territories, and alter the limits of States with the consent thereof.

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