“Government of Laws not of Men” Statutory interpretation through the prism of native title

Power may be conferred on officials or public authorities in broad terms limited only by the requirements of good faith and the scope, purpose and subject matter of the statute under which the power is conferred. On the other hand, official powers may be conferred subject to prescribed conditions. If the conditions are not met then the power cannot be exercised. Judicial review of decisions in such cases may involve questions of statutory interpretation. For if the decision-maker has misconstrued the condition upon which the exercise of his or her power depends, then the purported exercise of the power may be invalid for jurisdictional error. The more words that are used in conditioning the exercise of an executive power, the more scope there can be for debate about what they mean and therefore about the circumstances in which the power can be exercised.