Commonwealth v Tasmania

Commonwealth V Tasmania

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Commonwealth v Tasmania

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Commonwealth v Tasmania (1983) 158 CLR 1, (popularly known as the Tasmanian Dam Case) was a significant Australian court case, decided in the High Court of Australia on 1 July 1983. The case was a landmark decision in Australian constitutional law, and was a significant moment in the history of conservation in Australia. The case centred around the proposed construction of a hydro-electric dam on the Gordon River in Tasmania, which was supported by the Tasmanian government, but opposed by the Australian federal government and environmentalist groups.

Background to the case

In 1978, the Hydro-Electric Commission, then a body owned by the Tasmanian government, proposed the construction of a hydro-electric dam on the Franklin River, in Tasmania's rugged south-west region. The dam would have flooded the Franklin River. In June 1981 the Labor state government created the Wild Rivers National Park in an attempt to protect the river.

In May 1982, a Liberal state government was elected which supported the dam. The federal government at the time, also Liberal (under Malcolm Fraser), made offers of compensation to Tasmania, however they were not successful in stopping the dam's construction

In November 1982, UNESCO declared the Franklin area a World heritage site. During the federal election of 1983, the Labor party under Bob Hawke had promised to intervene and prevent construction...
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