Information on recently updated bills in the Parliament of Australia.
This page includes information to help you locate the following:
Locating up to date Acts
Federal Register of Legislation - Acts from 1901 - present.
TimeBase - Acts from 1998 - present.
Lawlex - The Law Library does not have a subscription to Lawlex, however it provides useful free features. These include links to full text legislation on free government websites, parliamentary materials for recent legislation and a very comprehensive subject index to legislation.
Locating point in time Acts
TimeBase - offers a point in time service for some Commonwealth legislation, and are grouped by subject category.
Federal Register of Legislation - limited point in time service for historical versions of Acts from 1901 - present.
Hardcopy Act reprints are used for point in time research. 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 Commonwealth Acts are kept in Law High Use and are updated by ANSTAT as amendments to Acts are made.
Locating Acts as made
Federal Register of Legislation Legislation Tables contains the Acts Table 1901+ (an alphabetical and chronological consolidated list of all Acts passed and how affected by later legislation. Very useful for historical research); annual Acts Tables 1993+; Repealed Acts Tables 1988+
Making Laws is a publication which describes how government bills are considered and passed by the House of Representatives. It is published by the Chamber Research Office, Australian Parliament House.
How to locate Bills
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.
What is an Explanatory Memorandum?
Explanatory Memorandum (EM) explain the contents and purpose of a bill in plain English. Explanatory Memoranda contain a clause by clause description of a bill. Explanatory Memorandums came into regular use from about 1978/1982 and are kept with bills. Explanatory Statements have been issued for Commonwealth Regulations since 1993.
'Was there an EM?': Explanatory Memoranda and Explanatory Statements in the Commonwealth Parliament by Patrick O'Neill from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library provides an overview of Explanatory Memoranda.
How to locate Explanatory Memorandum?
From 1996, most Explanatory Memoranda are available online through the Parliament House website or the Federal Register of Legislation. In each case, locate the bill first as the Memorandum is linked to the bill.
AustLII has EMs from 1971 however, not all those in AustLII are in PDF format.
TimeBase has EMs for bills going back to 2003.
Remember, EMs only came into regular use in the late 1970s, so if the legislation you are researching is old, there may not be an EM. Browse the Parliamentary Library's Explanatory Memoranda Index to find out whether there was an EM for the bill you are researching. In some cases, this index will link to the EM.
If you can't find the EM electronically, but you think there was one, you will need to look for the hardcopy EM which will be located with its corresponding hardcopy bill.
Hansard is the name given to transcripts of parliamentary proceedings and is also commonly referred to as parliamentary debates. 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.
To locate Hansard:
What is delegated legislation?
Delegated legislation refers to legislation made by government agencies and the Governor-General under authority of Acts of Parliaments, which delegate this power to agencies. Power is delegated for practical reasons such as saving parliamentary time or to deal with rapidly changing situations as they happen.
Delegated legislation is also known as Subordinate Legislation or, since 2005, Legislative Instruments. Legislative instruments must be registered as stipulated in s20 of the Legislative Instruments Act 2003.
The most common form of delegated legislation is a Regulation which is used for legislation of general application emanating from a government department. Regulations were published in the Statutory Rules series until 2004 and in the Select Legislative Instrument series from 2005. Other delegated legislation includes rules, ordinances and by-laws.
How to locate delegated legislation
Locating delegated legislation made under an Act
Journals are useful in finding discussion of legislation.
Use AGIS to browse legislation discussed in journals. The 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.
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.
Federal Annotations produced by LexisNexis is a really useful annotator, providing information on primary and secondary sources related to Commonwealth legislation.
Some popular subject specific titles include: