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Australian Cases, Legislation and Law Reform: Legislation

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

Victorian Parliament

Image source: Flickr, Creative Commons.

This interactive guide produced by the Parliament of Victoria gives an overview of the law making process in Victoria. 

Authoritative Victorian legislation

From 1 January 2011, electronic versions of Acts and Statutory Rules on the Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents website are the official versions.

See the 'About this site' page and the FAQ section of the Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents website for further information. 

Victorian Acts

Up to date Acts (compilations)

  • The Law Today database on the Victorian Parliamentary Documents website allows you to view the official current version of an Act incorporating all the amendments. 
  • TimeBase - Law One, Victoria Legislation. Contains the current version of an Act incorporating all the amendments.  
  • Warning! Please check the currency statement on the front screen to see the last amendment included.

Point in time Acts

  • In the Law Today database you can view the legislation since 1996 in its historical version. For example, if you wished to view the Property Law Act as it was in July 2002 you would use the 'Version History' link.
  • Act reprints incorporate the text of amendments which have been made. Reprints are carried out by or under the authority of the government printer. Hardcopy reprints of Victorian Acts are kept in Law High Use and are updated by ANSTAT as amendments to Acts are made. 

Acts as made

  • The Victorian Historical Acts site on AustLII contains all Victorian Acts from 1851 - 1995, as made. The Acts are photocopies of the original printed Acts, and may be used as the "official" versions.
  • TimeBase's Numbered Lists provides all "as made" (ie: unamended) legislation since 1998 that has been passed by Parliament. It is a useful resource when searching for amending legislation.
  • Statute book - This provides all legislation since 1996 that has been passed by Parliament. It is a useful resource when searching for amending legislation.

Victorian Bills

The purpose of all bills is to introduce new legislation to either amend an existing Act or to create a completely new Act. Bills must be introduced into Parliament for consideration and debate. A bill is usually introduced into the Legislative Assembly first. Members debate the bill and vote whether to pass it. Legislative Council members then debate the bill. Bills move through multiple stages in each House, but most debate is during the second reading stage. When both Houses pass a bill, the Governor gives it royal assent, making it law.

The Fact Sheets How a bill becomes law and Understanding a bill, both produced by the Parliament of Victoria, provide background information on parliamentary bills.

How to locate Victorian bills

Online (free access)

  • The Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents website contains bills for the current year. The Bills Status List details the current status of all bills considered by the Parliament this year. The archive contains bills from 1996 onwards.   
  • AustLII has Victorian bills from 1967 onwards.

Print

Monitoring the progress of a bill

Bills are debated in parliament and amended accordingly.  A bill can undergo many amendments and because of this, it is important to monitor the progress of a bill through parliament.  The below tools will assist you in monitoring the progress of a bill.

Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents - Parliamentary Documents – Bills Status List.  

Go to TimeBase Law One (Victoria) - Daily Bills Activity.

Victorian Explanatory Memoranda

An Explanatory Memorandum explains each clause of a bill in numerical order. It appears at the front of the printed bill, but is not formally part of the bill.

In Victoria, EMs have been entitled Notes on Clauses, Explanatory Memoranda, or Explanatory Notes. In the early years these titles were used almost interchangeably, but  Explanatory Memorandum is the term now used exclusively.

Does every Victorian bill have an explanatory memorandum?

No EMs were produced prior to 1967.

There were some EMs produced between 1967 and 1971, but very few.

EMs have been issued for most (but not all) Victorian Legislative Council bills since about 1983, and for Legislative Assembly bills since about 1971.  

All bills are now accompanied by an EM.

How to find explanatory memorandum

Print

Explanatory Memoranda are bound in with their corresponding bill. These are shelved on level 4 of the Law Library with the Victorian legislation.

Since 2000, EMs for bills that have been passed have been included in the annual volumes of printed acts, before the text of the act itself. 

Online

Current EMs

  • EMs for the current year are available on the Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents Bills webpage and AustLII.

Older Ems

  • EMs from Spring 2001 onwards (apart from the current year) are available with their bill in the Victorian Parliamentary Documents  Bills Archive.
  • EMs from 1967 onwards are available on AustLII. Note that this collection is not complete, particularly for the 1960s and 1970s, so to ascertain whether there actually was an EM for a bill from this era, check the printed bills.

Parliamentary Debates

About Hansard 

Hansard is the name given to transcripts of parliamentary proceedings for both the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly.  Hansard are also commonly referred to as parliamentary debates. Hansard produces two versions of the report.

Daily Hansard, which is a proof version, is available on the internet 4 hours after the house adjourns for the day and in hard copy by 8.30 a.m. the next day.  Weekly Hansard, which comprises the revised dailies for the week, is available on the internet three working days after the end of the sitting week and in hard copy approximately one week afterwards. The books are later incorporated into bound sessional volumes.

Hansard is important as it contains the second reading debate (or second reading speech) of a bill. The second reading debate is the discussion of the motion moved by the Minister and is usually the most substantial debate that takes place on a bill. Its purpose is to consider the principles of the bill. Debate may cover, reasons why the bill should be supported or opposed, the necessity for its proposals or alternative means of achieving the same objectives.  The second reading speech is often used in legal research to understand the motivation or purpose of a bill and is useful as a tool in statutory interpretation.

Online Hansard (free access)

The record of Parliamentary Debates (Hansard) from the first session of Victoria's First Parliament in 1856 to the present are freely available online on the Parliament of Victoria website.

1856-1999 Hansards are available to download as PDF files - each file is searchable, but the 1856-1990 Hansards cannot be searched all together; only as individual files. There is no way of searching across all of these at one time.

From 1991 (the 52nd Parliament), all Hansards, as well as being available to download, are also contained in a fully searchable database.

The Daily Hansard for any sitting day can be downloaded approximately 4 hours after the house rises, and the weekly revised Hansard is available approximately three working days after the completion of the corresponding sitting week. Daily Hansard is a draft proof and is marked as such on each page. Daily Hansard must not be quoted in any way as it is subject to alteration. Once the revised book becomes available, Daily Hansard ceases to exist.

Print Hansard - University of Melbourne

Baillieu Library

Law Library

  • Both houses - 1979/90-1982 (vols 348-365) are on Level 4, shelved with the Victorian legislation. For these years the debates of both houses were bound in the same volumes.
  • Legislative Assembly - 1982/3 - 2011 (vols 366-494) - level 4, shelved with the Victorian legislation.
  • Legislative Council - 1983/4 - 2011 (vols 371-502)  - level 4, shelved with the Victorian legislation.

Votes and Proceedings (Minutes) of the Legislative Assembly and Minutes of Proceedings of the Legislative Council

Votes and Proceedings (Minutes) of the Legislative Assembly and Minutes of Proceedings of the Victorian Legislative Council assist in understanding what was debated and voted on in a particular parliamentary sitting.  The minutes are a summary of all the formal actions and decisions of the each house.

The Victorian Parliament website has Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Assembly and Minutes of the Proceedings of the Legislative Council for the current Parliament.  Use the Search Parliamentary Documents feature to search for Votes and Proceedings and Minutes of Proceedings of previous parliaments.

Victorian Government Gazettes

The Victoria Government Gazette also provides official notification of decisions or actions taken by, or information from, the Governor of Victoria, Government authorities, Government Departments, local councils, companies and individuals.  The Victorian Government Gazette publishes information pertaining to Acts of Parliament (commencment information, notices required under particular Acts), and information pertaining to the making of Statutory Rules. 

How to locate government gazettes

The Victorian Government Gazette Office has Recently published Gazettes freely available online for the current year. 

The Victorian Government Gazette, Gazette Archive - has freely available online gazettes from 1998 - present.  Use the drop down menu next to 'Look for Gazettes for:' option.

AustLII has freely available online copies of the original gazettes for:

  • Port Phillip 1843-1851
  • Victoria 1851-1999

The State Library of Victoria has freely available online html and pdf copies of the original gazettes for:

  • Port Phillip 1844-1851
  • Victoria 1851-1997

Hardcopy Gazettes are held in Special Collections and the Government Documents section of the Baillieu Library, University of Melbourne.

Subordinate legislation

The most common type of Subordinate Legislation are Regulations and Statutory Rules. Subordinate legislation is also referred to as delegated legislation or legislative instruments. The Act governing Subordinate Legislation is the Surbordinate Legislation Act 1994. 

Subordinate Legislation is made pursuant to an empowering Act. A person or body may be given the authority to make Statutory Rules by an empowering Act.  Subordinate legislation is also referred to as delegated legislation, subsidary legislation, subordinate legislation, statutory rules, regulations and legislative instruments.

How to locate subordinate legislation

Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents - use the Law Today database. Please note you will need to select Acts or Statutory Rules before selecting the alphabetical letter you wish to choose.

TimeBase Law One (Victoria) – select Current Regulations, enter the first few letters in the Starting with field and click on Go.

Finding regulations made under an act

TimeBase Law One (Victoria) – Locate the current Act then click on the 'Subordinate Legislation' link.

Statutory Interpretation

Section 35 of the Interpretation of Legislation Act 1984 outlines the extrinsic material that may be used in interpreting an Act. These include:

  • All indications provided by the Act or subordinate instrument as printed by authority, including punctuation;
  • Reports of proceedings in any House of the Parliament
  • Explanatory Memoranda or other documents laid before or otherwise presented to any House of the Parliament; and
  • Reports of Royal Commissions, Parliamentary Committees, Law Reform Commissioners and Commissions, Boards of Inquiry or other similar bodies.

Parliamentary Committee Reports browse the Committees section of the Parliament of Victoria website to find a listing of committees and committee reports.  The University of Melbourne holds some Parliamentary Committee Reports in hardcopy. Use the catalogue and search for the keywords 'parliamentary committee reports'.

Reports of Royal Commissions - The University of Melbourne holds some Reports of Royal Commissions in hardcopy. Use the catalogue and search for the keywords 'royal commission reports'.

The Victorian Law Reform Commission (VLRC) Reports - Inquiry Reports and other publications produced by the VLRC from 2001 to present can be found on the Victorian Law Reform Commission website. Hardcopy VLRC Reports from 1986 to present are kept in Law High Use, level 3 of the Law Library and are organised by report number.

A range of parliamentary papers are kept in the Government Documents section of the Baillieu Library, University of Melbourne. The Baillieu Library, holds indexes of parliamentary papers from 1901 to 1992.

A useful text is Statutory Interpretation in Australia by Pearce and Geddes.

Popular Victorian annotated Acts

Annotated Acts provide information relating to Acts and can be used to trace the history of an Act.  They should be used in conjunction with the latest reprint or compilation.

 Victorian Statutes Annotations (UniMelb access) includes details of each current Act of Parliament and include the following components: reprint information; amending Acts and proclamation details; details of amended sections with commencement dates; case annotations where there has been judicial consideration of a statute; regulations made under the Act with amendment details; references to related Acts; and relevant books and articles.

Some popular subject specific Victorian commentary services that include annotated Acts: 

Finding relevant legislation on a topic

  • The Subject Index to Victorian Legislation (free) is an up to date index on the Legislative Information site of the Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents website. 
  • 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 (UniMelb staff & students) – Select 'Search' from the menu to go to the Advanced Search mode and refine by jurisdiction (Victoria)  
  • Tip: use 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.

LexisNexis 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.