Opinion Number. 1450


Weights and Measures
power of commonwealth to legislate on subject of weights and measures: weights and measures power: establishment of standards and monitoring arrangements

Key Legislation

constitution s 51(xv)

The Secretary, Prime Minister

The Prime Minister has referred to me, for advice as to the constitutional powers of the Commonwealth, a report and recommendations by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research as to the establishment of Commonwealth standards of Weights and Measures.

The recommendations are summarised by the Secretary of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research as follows:

  1. That the Commonwealth Government should pass a Commonwealth Standards of Weights and Measures Act defining the Commonwealth standards and adopting those standards which are legalised or recognised by Great Britain.
  2. That the Commonwealth Council for Scientific and Industrial Research should be made responsible for the maintenance of Commonwealth standards.
  3. That C.S.I.R. should appoint a Standards Board to control, on its behalf, the work of standards maintenance.
  4. That the work should be sub-divided in accordance with the arrangements at the (British) National Physical Laboratory under the following headings: (a) Metrology, (b) Physics, (c) Electricity and wireless, (d) Electro-technics and photometry.
  5. That co-operative arrangements for carrying out the work required should be made with (a) The Laboratory of the Munitions Supply Board, Defence Department; (b) University of Melbourne, Department of Natural Philosophy; and (c) University of Sydney, Departments of Physics and Electrical Engineering.
  6. That the estimated expenditure for carrying out the programme of work recommended by the Committee is as follows:
  7. Capital Expenditure £9500

    Annual Expenditure £2000 increasing to £2750.

    In the event of it being necessary to subsidise the Defence Department for the work proposed to be carried out in its Laboratories additional sums of £5000 for capital, and of £500 increasing to £750 for annual expenditure would be required.

Section 51 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth empowers the Commonwealth Parliament to make laws with respect to:

(xv.) Weights and Measures:

In my opinion, the Commonwealth Parliament has full power to legislate on the subject of weights and measures on the lines indicated in the report.

[Vol. 24, p. 279]