Bill of Attainder

A Bill of Attainder

A bill of attainder (also known as an act of attainder or writ of attainder or bill of penalties) is an act of a legislature declaring a person, or a group of people, guilty of some crime, and punishing them, often without a trial. As with attainder resulting from the normal judicial process, the effect of such a bill is to nullify the targeted person’s civil rights, most notably the right to own property (and thus pass it on to heirs), the right to a title of nobility, and, in at least the original usage, the right to life itself.

aka a statement of claim from a council or ATO re alleged debt.



Unlike the United States Constitution, the Constitution of Australia contains no specific provision prohibiting the Commonwealth Parliament from passing bills of attainder. However, the High Court of Australia has ruled that bills of attainder are unconstitutional, because it is a violation of the separation of powers doctrine for any body to wield judicial power other than a Chapter III court—that is, a body exercising power derived from Chapter III of the Constitution, the chapter providing for judicial power.[6][7][8] One of the core aspects of judicial power is the ability to make binding and authoritative decisions on questions of law, that is, issues relating to life, liberty or property.[9][10] The wielding of judicial power by the legislative or executive branch includes the direct wielding of power and the indirect wielding of judicial power.[11]

The state constitutions in Australia contain few limitations on government power. Bills of attainder are considered permissible because there is no entrenched separation of powers at the state level.[12][13] However, section 77 of the Constitution of Australia permits state courts to be invested with Commonwealth jurisdiction, and any state law that renders a state court unable to function as a Chapter III court is unconstitutional.[14] The states cannot structure their legal systems to prevent them from being subject to the Australian Constitution.[15]