On the Origin of Section 96 of the Constitution

28 Pages Posted: 26 Nov 2016

See all articles by Greg Taylor

Greg Taylor

University of Adelaide - School of Law; University of Marburg; RMIT University - Graduate School of Business and Law

Date Written: November 22, 2016


The origins of s 96 of the Constitution have long been mysterious, despite its great importance in constitutional practice. All that was known of it was that it was rejected at the 1898 Conventions and inserted early in 1899 at the ‘secret’ Premiers’ Conference consequent upon the rejection of the Bill in New South Wales. This article shows that there are good reasons for concluding that s 96 was inserted at the instance of the Premier of Queensland, (Sir) James Dickson. He was worried that Queensland might need extra assistance because of its high dependence upon customs duties as a source of taxation revenue. The article also summarises the public debate on s 96 and shows that no-one at the time thought that it would have the role that it has come to have: some thought of it as a federal guarantee of State solvency and others as a means of avoiding unnecessarily high customs duties, but no-one thought that the ‘terms and conditions’ could be more important than the money. To a large extent it was inserted because the future would contain challenges that could not be foreseen.

Suggested Citation

Taylor, Greg, On the Origin of Section 96 of the Constitution (November 22, 2016). University of New South Wales Law Journal, Vol. 39, No. 4, 2016, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2874638

Greg Taylor (Contact Author)

University of Adelaide - School of Law ( email )

Ligertwood Building
Adelaide 5005, South Australia SA 5005

University of Marburg ( email )

Universitätsstrasse 24
Marburg, D-35032

RMIT University - Graduate School of Business and Law ( email )


Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics