Locating up to date Acts
Federal Register of Legislation - Acts from 1901 - present.
TimeBase - Acts from 1998 - present.
Lawlex - Acts from 1901 - present.
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 the Legislation section on level 4 of the Law Library, view the catalogue record for details.
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 Very useful for historical research); annual Acts Tables 1993+; Repealed Acts Tables 1988+.
LawNow on Lexis Advance provides detailed information about the history of Acts and subordinate legislation including assents, commencement information, and amendment information.
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
Commonwealth Explanatory Memoranda
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 a limited number of EMs for 1959, 1971, 1974-76, with the collection increasing from 1977 onwards. 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.
Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates
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 online:
Commonwealth Government Gazettes
Commonwealth Delegated Legislation
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.
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
Commonwealth Statutory Interpretation
Popular Commonwealth 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.
Some popular subject specific titles include: