Opinion Number. 1394


Post and telegraph
fees for opening post offices after hours: payment of fees into consolidated revenue fund and subsequent credit to officer: whether regulation may provide for obviation of process by retention of fee by officer: public moneys: consistency with constitution s 81

Key Legislation

Post and Telegraph Regulations: Constitution s 81

The Secretary, Department of the Treasury

The Secretary to the Treasury has forwarded me the following memorandum for advice:

  • It is provided in the Post and Telegraph Regulations that arrangements may be made to have a post office opened for transaction of telegraph or telephone business after usual office hours on payment of a detention fee, not exceeding 1/6d, per half hour. The fees are credited to the Consolidated Revenue Fund, and payment of the amount is afterwards made to the officer from an appropriate vote.
  1. As considerable clerical work is involved in bringing the fees to account in the Consolidated Revenue Fund and arranging for their subsequent payment to the official, the Postmaster-General’s Department desire to know whether the necessity for this procedure could be obviated by providing in the Post and Telegraph Regulations for the retention of the fees by the officer performing the service.
  2. I shall be glad if you will kindly advise whether such a regulation would conflict in any way with section 81 of the Constitution.

The fees in question are prescribed by the regulations and are ‘revenue or moneys raised or received by the Executive Government of the Commonwealth’. Any legislation purporting to authorise officers to retain the fees collected under the above mentioned or any other statutory authority would, I think, conflict with section 81 of the Constitution.

I am, therefore, of opinion that the procedure described in the Secretary’s minute cannot be obviated.

[Vol. 22, p. 673]