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Government publications: Commonwealth Legislation (Acts, Bills)


Commonwealth of Australia

Legislation (Acts,Bills)

Page contents


Laws made by Parliament

Finding Legislation

Finding Legislation in Free Dabatases

Monash University Library Holdings


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  • Ask at the Information Point in any Monash University Library


Laws made by Parliament

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.  

Finding Legislation


Online versions of legislation are freely accessible via the official Government websites They are updated regularly but always check the currency of the version you have.


Print copies of legislation for all Australian jurisdictions are held on level 1 of the Law Library but are often not current. 

Use the legal databases below to find and update legislation and extrinsic materials.

Other sources of legislation

Finding Legislation in Free Databases

ComLaw (Attorney-General's Department) provides online access to Commonwealth Acts, Bills (with Explanatory Memoranda), and Legislative Instruments by Department, Number, Title or Year. Migration of historical materials from SCALEplus is complete.

AustLII provides access to Commonwealth numbered and consolidated Acts and Regulations. Usually not as up-to-date as ComLaw.

Federal Register of Legislative Instruments (FRLI) (Attorney-General's Department). Complete database of the images and index information of all legislative instruments in force as at, and registered after, the commencement of the Legislative Instruments Act (the Act). Explanatory Statements are provided where available.

BillsNet 1996+ (Australian Parliament) provides online access to current and old Bills and associated materials such as Explanatory Memoranda and 2nd Reading Speeches.

Bills Lists 1981 - 1995.  By year.  1981 --1982 --1983 --1984 -- 1984 (p11-12) --1985 --1986 --1987 (June) --1987 (December) --1988 --1989 --1990 --1991 --1992 --1993 --1994 --1995.

Bills Digests (Australian Parliamentary Library) a description of new bills brought into either House, prepared for the purpose of debate. They reflect the legislation as introduced and do not canvass subsequent amendments. The Digests do not have any official legal status.

Index to Explanatory Memoranda 1901-82 (Australian Parliamentary Library) lists all items identified as Explanatory Memoranda or as Comparative Memoranda from 1901 to the end of 1982 (1st - 32nd Parliaments). From 1982, the provision of Explanatory Memoranda has been standard practice for government Bills introduced into the Commonwealth Parliament.


Monash University Library Holdings

Library holdings
Monash University Law Library holds a collection of Australian legislation.

•    Commonwealth of Australia Acts, v.1 (1901) to present
Reprinted Acts, current reprint only

•    Commonwealth of Australia Statutory Rules, 1901 to present
Reprinted Statutory Rules, current reprint only

•    Bills, 1968 to present (lacks 1969)