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Introduction to Legal Research

This guide is an introduction to legal research at the University of Melbourne. This guide is intended for law students in the JD, MLM , Breadth programs who are new to legal research. Students in other disciplines who may need to conduct legal research

Introduction to Statutory Interpretation

Statutory interpretation is an important legal skill. Section 15AB (2) of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 (Cth) and section 35 of the Interpretation of Legislation Act 1984 (Vic) provide information about the various extrinsic aids which may assist with interpreting legislation. Extrinsic material which are permissible to assist with interpreting an Act include:

  • Parliamentary debates on the bill (Hansard), in particular, the second reading speeches in both the House of Representatives and the Senate
  • The bill that created the Act, and all subsequent amendments to the Act
  • Explanatory Memorandum (EM) which accompanies the bill
  • Committee Reports resulting from the debates in Parliament
  • Journals of the Senate and the Votes and Proceedings of the House of Representatives
  • Reports by Royal Commissions, Law Reform Commissions, committees of inquiry or other similar bodies

Subscription resources such as TimeBase and Lawlex Premium help in statutory interpretation research to the extent that they package legislation, linking an Act to its corresponding Bill, Explanatory Memorandum and second reading speeches. This module provides an overview of how to find this type of information. 

See the Australian Cases, Legislation and Law Reform research guide for information on how to find other extrinsic material such as parliamentary committee reports and papers, and law reform commission material. 

Note:  If you cannot find statutory interpretation materials on TimeBase or Lawlex Premium, see the Australian Cases, Legislation and Law Reform research guide for further assistance. Consolidated Acts will not have one single bill that created it.


Contains Bills, Explanatory Memorandums, Second Reading Speeches, etc.  Once you locate an Act, click on 'Key Info'':


Locate the Act on Lawlex and then click on the 'Related Links' to locate the Explanatory Memorandum and Second Reading Speech. The Bill is on the right hand side of the screen under Lawlex Premium Research: