Federal Spending Power in Three Federations: Australia, Canada and the United States

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


This paper considers the federal spending power in three comparable jurisdictions - Australia, the United States and Canada. The article responds to a recent High Court of Australia decision which apparently denied that the federal government had a separate head of power to spend. It would (at least in theory) need to demonstrate that its proposed spending was in an area over which it had been given specific constitutional power, in order to be valid. This decision presents a serious obstacle to governance in Australia. The federal government has vast access to taxation powers, with the states having very limited access. There are increasing calls for a national, rather than local, approach to many areas of public policy, given the economic and social integration of the nation. It is necessary to accord the federal government broad spending power in order for it to respond to these demands effectively, contrary to the High Court decision. Other jurisdictions have accorded the federal government significant spending power.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-39
Number of pages27
JournalCommon Law World Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Federal Spending Power in Three Federations: Australia, Canada and the United States'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this