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Australian Cases, Legislation and Law Reform: Legislation

Resources for finding cases, legislation and law reform information all Australian jurisdictions

New South Wales Parliament

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

For an explanation of the NSW legislative process, see the publication Legislative Process Explained on the Parliament of New South Wales website.

Authoritative NSW legislation

The NSW legislation website is established under Part 6A of the Interpretation Act 1987 as the official NSW government site for the online publication of legislation and the Gazette. Source: NSW Legislation website 'About Us' There are some qualifications to this, see the NSW Legislation website 'About Us' page for more information.  

New and updated in force legislation

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New South Wales Acts

Acts as made

  • Acts as originally passed by Parliament, from 1824 can be browsed on the NSW Legislation website.
  • The full text of Acts as originally passed by Parliament, from 1990 can be searched on the NSW Legislation website.

Acts in force

  • Acts currently in force can be searched or browsed via from the NSW Legislation website.

Consolidated Acts

  • Consolidated Acts, incorporating all amendments to the Act can be found in the In Force database on the NSW Legislation website. Amendments are usually incorporated into the main Act within 3 days of commencement.
  • Historical consolidated versions can be used to find point-in-time information, via the NSW Legislation website. All titles in the In Force database have complete sets of historical versions from 1 January 2002. Selected titles have more extensive collections of historical versions.
  • A 'Point-In-Time' service is also available through AustLII. A specific date can be chosen to view the legislation. However, this database is still considered to be experimental and may not be completed. Users are advised to check the New South Wales Consolidated Acts database on AustLII for consolidations.

Repealed Acts

  • Acts that have been repealed since 2002 can be found on the NSW Legislation website.

New South Wales Bills

  • Current session bills are available on the Parliament of New South Wales website.
  • Bills introduced since 1990 are available on the NSW Legislation website.
  • A selection of bills since 1978 are available on AustLII.
  • Consultation drafts (bills publicly released before their introduction) from 1990 are available on the NSW Legislation website.

Legislation Review Committee

The Legislation Review Committee reviews all Bills introduced into Parliament and reports on the impact of these Bills on personal rights and liberties. Specifically, the Committee is required under section 8A of the Legislation Review Act 1987 to report to Parliament any Bill that:

  • trespasses on personal rights and liberties
  • does not properly define administrative powers that may affect personal rights
  • does not allow for the review of decisions that may affect personal rights
  • inappropriately delegates legislative power
  • does not sufficiently allow the Parliament to scrutinise legislative power

The Legislation Review Digests (from 2003) are available on the Parliament of New South Wales website.

Research Papers

The Parliamentary Research Service prepares papers on legislation before the Parliament a​​nd on major issues of interest to members. Papers cover a broad range of subject areas including law, politics, government, environment, economics and social issues. Research papers from 1994 onwards are available on the Parliament of New South Wales website.

Explanatory Notes

Since 1938 it has been a requirement under the standing orders for an "Explanatory Note" to be affixed to the front of each bill when it is introduced. Such notes briefly and simply set out the provisions of the bill. The Explanatory Note is not considered in detail. In 1994 the standing order was amended to delete this reference and to simply provide that any explanatory note affixed to the bill be printed after the first reading. Under the current standing orders a bill is printed, with an explanatory note if applicable, once it has been introduced (S.O. 188(7)). From Chp 21.5 of NSW Legislative Assembly Practice, Procedure and Privilege.

  • Explanatory notes for bills introduced since 1990 are available on the NSW Legislation website, with their corresponding bill.
  • Explanatory notes for bills introduced since 1978 are available on AustLII.

Parliamentary Debates

The Parliament of New South Wales has produced a comprehensive index to all parliamentary documents online. The index is organised by date (from 1879) and contains links to all of the documents available for that day, including hansard, House papers and tabled papers.


Hansard is the written record of proceedings and debates in Parliament. It is a verified and accurate record rather than strictly verbatim transcript. Repetitions and redundancies are omitted, obvious mistakes are corrected, and interjections omitted unless responded to by the principal speaker.

  • Hansard for the current session of parliament is available on the Parliament of New South Wales website. The proof (draft) text is published online within 3 hours of the spoken word, progressively throughout the sitting day. A single PDF daily transcript is also made within three hours of the last House rising.
  • Hansard from previous sessions of parliament (from 1879) is also available on the Parliament of New South Wales website.
  • Hansard by bill on the Parliament of New South Wales website provides access to bill speeches, debates and other bill references for the current Parliament.
  • Hansard search on the Parliament of New South Wales website enables full text searching for keywords or terms, by parliament session, date range, parliamentary member, electorate, and other advanced search filters.
  • The University Library holds hard copy Hansard volumes from 1879 to 1974 (catalogue record) - NB: holdings are incomplete. 

Prior to 1879, reports of parliamentary debates were published in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper. Digitised copies of the newspaper are available through the National Library of Australia. The University Library also has the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper on microfilm (catalogue record).

House Papers and Tabled Papers

House business papers include notice papers (a list of motions and bills to be considered by the House); minutes (Legislative Council) or votes and proceedings (Legislative Assembly) (the official record of proceedings including what motions were moved, the progress of bills and how members voted in divisions); questions and answers papers (questions on notice, containing written questions to Ministers and the answers given); votes and proceedings.

The following are available on the Parliament of New South Wales website: 

The First Legislative Council Archive contains documents from 1824 - 1855 and includes tabled papers, Sydney Morning Herald newspaper reports of debates and documents relating to the administration of the First Council.

Government Gazettes

Government Gazettes from 2001 to current are available on the NSW Legislation website.

Digistied copies of the NSW Government Gazette from 1832 are available through Trove's Government Gazette zone.

From 1803 to 1842 government notices were printed in the Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser. Digitised copies are available on Trove

New South Wales Statutory Rules

As made regulations

  • Regulations as originally made, since 1990 can be searched or browsed via the NSW Legislation website. The regulations are listed under the titles of the parent Act.

In force regulations

  • Regulations that are currently in force can be searched or browsed via the NSW Legislation website.

Repealed regulations

  • Regulations that have been repealed can be browsed via the NSW Legislation website.

Finding relevant legislation on a topic

  • Use the New South Wales Government Legislation Search option, enter your search terms and use the fields to refine your search.  
  • LawLex - select the 'browse legislation', deselect all the jurisdictions and then select the jurisdiction you are researching. Then select the category and if necessary a sub category.
  • TimeBase LawOne - use the search option from the top menu, enter the search terms and refine by jurisdiction. 
  • You could also try using secondary sources (books, legal encyclopaedia and journal articles) to identify legislation relevant to a topic.

Discussion of legislative provisions in journal articles

Journals are useful in finding discussion of legislation. 

Use AGIS to browse legislation discussed in journalsThe index feature allows you to search using indexed terms legislation and jurisdiction.  AGIS contains indexed articles from 1970 and full text articles from 1995.

Lexis Advance Pacific includes journals that cover a range of legislative areas. Journals include the Australian Journal of Corporate Law, Australian Journal of Family Law, Australian Journal of Labor Law, Australian Property Law Journal, Insurance Law Journal, Journal of Contract Law and the Media & Arts Law Review.  You can search all journals sources or select one and search using phrases, article title, author and/or article citation.

Westlaw AU subscribes to journals that cover legislative areas such as building and construction, environment and planning, family law, local government and public law.  Useful search features include 'legislation cited' and 'jurisdiction' search fields.