Opinion Number. 1836

Subject

SHIPPINGSALVAGE BY ROYAL AUSTRALIAN NAVY VESSELS: WHETHER MERCHANT SHIPPING (SALVAGE) ACT 1940 (UK) APPLIES TO AUSTRALIA: POWER OF COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENT TO ENACT SALVAGE LAW

Key Legislation

STATUTE OF WESTMINSTER, 1931 s 4: MERCHANT SHIPPING (SALVAGE) ACT 1940 (UK)

Date
Client
The Secretary, Department of the Navy

I refer to your memorandum dated 8th August, 1947, regarding the above-mentioned matter.

2.  The position is, I think, substantially as state in paragraph 4 of your memorandum. Section 4 of the Statute of Westminster, which became effective in relation to Australia from 1st September, 1939,1 provides that no United Kingdom Act passed after the commencement of the Statute shall extend, or be deemed to extend, to a Dominion as part of the law of that Dominion, unless it is expressly declared in that Act that that Dominion has requested, and consented to, the enactment thereof. It is true that the Commonwealth Government intimated to the United Kingdom Government that it concurred in the terms of the proposed Bill which became the Merchant Shipping (Salvage) Act, 1940 but no reference is made in the Act to the consent of the Commonwealth Government. As the Act was passed after 3rd September, 1939, it should not be regarded as applying to Australia (see Wheare’s Statute of Westminster and Dominion Status, pp. 216k–216m.).

3.  Any difficulty in regard to payment for salvage services rendered by the ships of the Royal Australian Navy could be overcome by the enactment by the Commonwealth Parliament of an Act along the lines of the British Act of 1940.

[Vol. 38, p. 120]

1 Statute of Westminster Adoption Act 1942.