Glory without Power: The Nationhood Power and Commonwealth Spending on Sport

(2021) 95 Australian Law Journal 274

12 Pages Posted: 1 Sep 2021

See all articles by Daniel Goldsworthy

Daniel Goldsworthy

Deakin Law School; Melbourne Law School

Date Written: April 1, 2021


The constitutional dimensions of federal spending on sport have yet to be considered by the courts, the academy or various parliamentary inquiries. The current Senate Select Committee on Administration of Sports Grants provides an opportunity to consider the constitutionality of federal spending on sport, which it has not had cause to consider since the seminal decisions of Pape, Williams [No 1] and Williams [No 2]. In the absence of express or concurrent legislative powers regarding sport, this article considers whether the Constitution’s implied nationhood power might support Commonwealth funding in this area. An appropriate constitutional challenge would likely call into question, and possibly fracture, existing aspects of Commonwealth spending on sport for want of necessary constitutional power. In this context, a fascinating conceptual question arises: can sport, as a subject matter, enliven the Commonwealth’s implied nationhood power and therefore validate spending on sport? Were the validity of Commonwealth spending on sport to be challenged, the High Court would have recourse to consider whether, constitutionally at least, Australia is truly a sporting nation.

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This article was first published by Thomson Reuters in the Australian Law Journal and should be cited as Daniel Goldsworthy, Glory without Power: The Nationhood Power and Commonwealth Spending on Sport, 2021, Vol. 95, ALJ, 274.

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Keywords: Commonwealth Spending on Sport; Nationhood Power; Constitutional Law; Pape; Williams No 1; Williams No 2

Suggested Citation

Goldsworthy, Daniel, Glory without Power: The Nationhood Power and Commonwealth Spending on Sport (April 1, 2021). (2021) 95 Australian Law Journal 274, Available at SSRN:

Daniel Goldsworthy (Contact Author)

Deakin Law School ( email )

75 Pigdons Road
Victoria, Victoria 3216

Melbourne Law School ( email )

185 Pelham Street
Carlton, Victoria 3053

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