Opinion Number. 1592



Key Legislation

SUNDAY OBSERVANCE ACT 1677 (Engl.) (29 Car. II c. 7): SUNDAY OBSERVANCE ACT 1625 (Engl.) <br>(1 Car. I c. 1): SUNDAY OBSERVANCE ACT 1781 (G.B.) (21 Geo. III c. 49)

The Secretary, Department of the Interior

The Secretary, Department of the Interior, has forwarded to me for advice a copy of the following memorandum received by him from the Administrator of the Northern Territory:

During the present football season, the Darwin Town Council has permitted football matches to be played on the Darwin Oval on Sundays as well as on Saturdays.

I am of the opinion that there is a very old Act dated from the time of King Charles II respecting the forbidding of sports in public places on Sundays, an Act still in force in Australia, the only reference to which I can locate here being section 7 of the Imperial Statute 29, Car.2, which concerns working and trading on Sundays.

In view of the fact that the Administration is to take over the civic administration, I should be obliged if the matter were referred to the Attorney-General’s Department so that the Administration may not unwittingly commit an illegality by permitting the continuance of sport on the Darwin Oval, a public place, on Sundays.

With reference to the second paragraph of the Administrator’s memorandum, I have to state that the only Act of 29 Car. II which relates to Sunday observance is 29 Car.II C.7 and this Statute does not contain any provision relating to the holding of sports on Sundays.

There is an earlier statute 1 Car.1 C.1 which forbids meetings of people out of their parishes on Sundays for any sports or pastimes whatsoever and provides for the imposition of a penalty on any person so doing. I am not aware whether people in Darwin offend against this provision.

The Statute 21 Geo. III C.49 which the High Court in Scott v. Cawsey(1) declared to be in force in Australia has not, so far as the Northern Territory is concerned, been repealed.

That Act declares that ‘any House, Room or other Place, which shall be opened or used for publick Entertainment or Amusement, or for publickly debating on any Subject whatsoever, upon any Part of the Lord’s Day called Sunday and to which Persons shall be admitted by the payment of Money, or by Tickets sold for Money, shall be deemed a disorderly House or Place’ and provides for penalties to be imposed on the Keeper of the House, Room or Place and on his servants.

Unless the operation of the provision above quoted is cut down by the ejusdem generis rule, it would apply to the use of the Darwin Oval on Sundays for football matches.

In view, however, of the antiquated nature of the legislation above referred to, and of the changes in circumstances which have taken place since it was enacted, it is suggested that, if it is desired that such football matches should be forbidden, it would be preferable to deal with the matter by Ordinance rather than rely on the Statute abovementioned.

[Vol. 29, p. 153]

(1) (1907) 5 CLR 132.