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Legislation: Home

This guide provides a starting point for finding and researching legislation in Australia.

'Since legislation is the predominant source of legal rules, few legal problems can be answered without reference to it.' Laying Down the Law (7th ed, LexisNexis, 2009)

Read Chapter 9 Laying Down the Law by Robin Creyke et al for information about the legislative process, the types of legislative sources and how to use them. 

Legislation consists of the laws made by Parliament:

  • Acts (also known as statutes) - Take a look at the Elements of an Act 
  • Subordinate or delegated legislation (also known as regulations, rules, by-laws and orders, legislative instruments)

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.

These are defined in the Acts Interpretation Acts of the Cth and States, see Acts Interpretation Act 1901 (Cth) s 15AB, Interpretation of Legislation Act 1984 (Vic) s 35, and include:

  • Bills 
  • Explanatory Memoranda (EM), Statements (ES) or Notes (EN) relating to the Bill
  • Second Reading Speeches relating to the Bill (Hansard)
  • Reports of Law Reform and Royal Commission inquiries
  • Parliamentary Committee reports
  • Treaties or other international agreements
  • Official records of parliamentary debates, such as the Votes and Proceedings or Journals of the Senate.

Find more at the Government Publications Library Guide