4.b. Under the rules of statutory interpretation, where two specific sections made a supply GST-free, which section applies?

Non-interpretative – straight application of the law.

The rules of statutory interpretation provide that where two sections of an Act have the propensity to apply to a factual situation, the section which is more specific in its terms to the particular circumstance, will be the applicable section.

For example within the GST Act, both subsection 38-45(1) and subsection 38-50(2) could be applicable to the supply of suppositories. Scheduled suppositories (refer to the discussion in question 3.g. on 'scheduled' medicines) could be GST-free where the requirements of subsection 38-50(2) are met. However, 'enemas, suppositories and applicators' are specifically itemised at item 25 of Schedule 3 to subsection 38-45(1). Therefore under the rules of statutory interpretation, suppositories will be GST-free under subsection 38-45(1) where the other requirements of that section are met, rather than subsection 38-50(2) and the practical outcome is that that class of suppositories will be GST-free at all points in the supply chain.

    Last modified: 02 Apr 2014QC 16333