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Australian Legislation (archive Sept 2021)

Documents produced in the legislation making process


There are a range of documents that are produced in making of laws. The table below outlines the stage of the legislative process, and the document produced at that stage. The documents that are produced alongside statutes are useful for understanding the context and intended purpose of the statute. Access to these documents is listed in the Legislation by Jurisdiction sections of this guide.

Stage of the legislation process Document Produced
An inquiry into legislative reform may be established and submissions are called for Report forming the basis for legislative reform eg. Law Reform Commission Report
A Bill is drafted Exposure draft Bill - may be posted for public scrutiny on Government departments website
Bill presented to Parliament


A plain language explanation of the bill is produced and tabled in Parliament

Explanatory Memorandum (EM)

Bill is debated in Parliament (often in both the House of Representatives and the Senate) Second Reading Speech in Hansard
If changes are required following debate, the Bill is referred to a Parliamentary Committee Parliamentary Committee report
Bill is passed and Assent given by the Governor-General Assent notice in Government Gazette
A principal Act is created and given a number and a year Sessional (or Numbered) Act
The Act commences on a set date or date to be proclaimed Commencement date/s provided in s 2 of the Act and published in the Government Gazette and legislation databases
Amendments to the Principal Act are introduced via an Amending Act which progresses through Parliament in a similar way Amending Act
Amendments are incorporated into the principal Act

Reprint (published by the government printer)

Principal Act compilation (on the Parliamentary website, Federal Register of Legislation) 
Legislation made by government agencies and the Governor-General under authority of Acts of Parliaments, which delegate this power to agencies.  Delegated legislation, subordinate legislation or legislative instruments

Note: Delegated legislation is not strictly part of the legislative process, however they are produced alongside other legislative documents.

 Track the currency of legislation


Checking whether an Act is up to date

The easiest way to know if your Act is up to date with the latest legislative activity is to use a reliable source for legislation. We recommend using the legislation website for each jurisdiction. Locate your Act and ensure it's the latest version. Check the Notes at the end of the Act to see the amendments included in the version.

Warning! You may wish to check the current Bills Activity to find any Bills that have recently passed or may soon pass and affect your Act. Bills for the current parliament are available on parliament websites. 

Checking whether an amendment is in force

To check amendments in relation to a principal Act:

  • Locate the Act on the legislation website for that jurisdiction and view the Endnotes - Table of Amendments. This will include all legislation that has altered or amended the act. 
  • TimeBase LawOne – locate the Act and view the End Notes.

To check an amending Act:

  • Locate the amendment act on the legislation website. There is generally an option to view Commencement Information. If not, commencement information is included in section 2 of the act.
  • Government Gazettes - search Gazettes for the relevant Act name.
  • Capital Monitor – check Proclamations for the jurisdiction using the chronological lists.

Tracking legislative history, commencement and future changes


Legislation is dynamic and it is important to know how your legislation, and if relevant, provisions have changed over the years by tracking the legislative history. It is also important to check the currency of the legislation you are using, specifically whether the Act or provisions have been incorporated and come into effect.  

Tracking legislative history

  • Locate your Act using a reliable source and check the Notes or Endnotes section of the Act to see a chronological list of amending Acts. To see how each section of an Act has been amended, look to the list at the end of the Act titled 'Amendment History' or 'Table of Amendments.' 
  • Locate the Act on TimeBase and use the 'Key info' box to find the 'Table of legislation' link to find information about how the Act has been amended.  
  • Locate the Act on Lawlex Premium and select the links 'View the History of Amendments to this Title' and 'Check for Amendments since the last Consolidation.'

Tracking legislation commencement 

  • Use legislation tables and statute annotations to check whether your legislation has commenced and whether sections of the Act have commenced. Legislation tables are published on government websites, Lawlex Premium and TimeBase. The Library has statute annotations for Federal, Victorian and New South Wales legislation on Lexis Advance (find these via the Publications list on Lexis Advance). 

Tracking potential legislative changes 

  • Check the current Bills Activity to find any Bills that have recently passed or may soon pass and affect your Act. Use Capital Monitor Bills Monitor (for Federal, New South Wales, Victorian, Queensland and Western Australian Bills) or the TimeBase Bill Activity RSS (covers all Australian jurisdictions or you can select specific jurisdictions).
  • Create an alert on Lawlex Premium to monitor legislative activity.

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.

  • Capital Monitor - Bills Monitor. Available for selected jurisdictions
  • TimeBase LawOne - Law Tracker RSS feeds - under the heading 'Bill Activity' click on the link to the jurisdiction and follow the prompts 

Finding relevant legislation on a topic


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 or subject. 

Secondary sources - use 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 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.

Lexis Advance includes journals that cover a range of legislative areas.  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.