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Government publications: The Commonwealth of Australia

Commonwealth of Australia Government Publications

These are the publications, documents and other information resources issued by federal Australian governmental bodies.

Links to Government Publications

An electronic copy of the current electoral roll (e-roll) is available for public inspection at any AEC office. Under section 90A in the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, the right to access the electoral roll is integral to the conduct of free and fair elections as it allows participants to verify the openness and accountability of the electoral process.

The National Library of Australia in Canberra has available selected microfiche of the Commonwealth Electoral Rolls from 1901 to 2008. 

guide to researching historic Australian electoral rolls is also available on the National Library of Australia website

Gazettes contain a variety of legislative information including:

  • Date of Royal Assent for Acts of Parliament;
  • Notification of the making of Statutory Rules;
  • The notification (and occasional full text) of several forms of delegated legislation and instruments made under Acts such as determinations, rules, declarations, notices, and orders; and
  • Notification and publication of Letters Patent.

The Australian Government provides Federal Register of Legislation, which contains Gazettes (GeneralSpecial, and Periodic) and Indexes to the Gazettes, published since July 2002.

Trove has also digitized a large number of government gazettes. 

Votes and Proceedings (House of Representatives) 1901 - current 

the official record of the proceedings of the House of Representatives. This record contains the proceedings and decisions of the House and the Federation Chamber; and the attendance of Members in the House

Journals  (Senate)  1973-current

Laws made by Parliament (ie legislation) consist of:

  • Acts (also known as statutes)
  • Subordinate and delegated legislation (also known as regulations, rules, by-laws and orders, legislative instruments)

Quasi-Legislative Materials: 

  • Bills (a proposal for a law or a change to an existing law. A bill becomes law (an Act) when it is passed by both houses of Parliament and assented to by the Governor-General.
  • Explanatory Memoranda, Statement and Notes
  • Gazettes
  • Orders and Rulings of Government Instrumentalities and Officers (eg ASIC, ATO)
  • Court Practice Directions and Practice Notes

Extrinsic Materials: 

Materials associated with legislation, called extrinsic materials, are extremely useful in the legal research process to help understand, define, or interpret the meaning or intent of the legislation, which include Explanatory memorandum relating to the Bill, Second reading speeches, etc. 

For more information about Commonwealth, State and Territories legislation please go to the Law Library Guide on Legislation.  


Use ParlInfo  to search and obtain Australian Parliamentary information including hansards, bills, senate journals, votes and proceedings, notice papers, committee reports, the Parliamentary Papers and Handbook, newspaper clippings, media, publications and much more.

Tips: It's a very powerful database but can be difficult to navigate. Advanced search allows you to limit the type of publications,e.g. hansard, parliamentary papers, and others. 


A bill is a proposal for a law or a change to an existing law. A bill becomes law (an Act) when it is passed by both houses of Parliament and assented to by the Governor-General.

Use the Bills and Legislation page from the Parliament of Australia website to search and browse for bills, also includes links to bills being considered by Parliament and awaiting Royal Assent and previous bills that have received Royal Assent and bills otherwise disposed of. 


Much of the work of Parliament is carried out by Parliamentary Committees. These may be Joint Committees, Standing Committees, or Special Purpose Committees.

Please go to Parliamentary Committees website to find more about what they do and different types of committees. 

Parliamentary committees conduct inquiries into specified matters which includes taking submissions, hearing witnesses, sifting evidence, discussing matters in detail and formulating reasoned conclusions.