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Australian Legislation (archive Sept 2021)

What is legislation?

Legislation is the law that is produced by Parliament & forms the laws that govern society and which are used by judges to create case law.

In order to become law, a draft of the law (the bill) must be passed through both houses of parliament.

Jurisdiction is important in legal research.

In the legislative context, jurisdiction refers to the parliament or legislature which has created the legislation.

Note: The Parliament of Australia's publication The Australian System of Government provides an overview of the structure of government at a Commonwealth level. Most Australian jurisdictions follow a similar structure.


Why is legislation important?

The basis of your legal research will more than always be based around a piece of legislation.

It is important you understand the reasoning for the existence of the piece of legislation.

Below is a list of the types of legislation you will come across and most likely refer to.

  • Acts (often called statues),
  • Bills and
    • Explanatory Memoranda (EM) - VIC & CTH 
    • Explanatory Notes (EN) - NSW 
    • Explanatory Statements (ES) - ACT
  • Statutory rules (also called Delegated Legislation or Regulations),
  • Parliamentary debates (Hansard), and Parliamentary committee reports.

The remainder of this guide will show you where to can find this information, and help you understand the process of legislative research.

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