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A guide to Australian legal research resources

How legislation is made

The legislative process is similar in most Australian jurisdictions but varies slightly from State to State, and in the territories.

Terms used in the Legislative Process

Bill - A statute in its draft form as it is introduced and before it is passed by Parliament. Commonwealth bills are available via the Parliament of Australia website.

Explanatory memorandum - An executive document issued by a Minister as an accompaniment to a bill. It explains the aims and operation of the proposed statute.

Subordinate (also called delegated) legislation – Subordinate legislation cannot exist without an enabling statute. Subordinate legislation is made by a body to whom the Parliament has delegated the authority (eg. a Minister), and includes regulations, by-laws and statutory rules.

Commencement of legislation - Acts do not become law until they receive assent (in some jurisdictions this is called Royal Assent) and come into force. In the Commonwealth, if nothing is stated to the contrary, Acts come into force 28 days after the date of Royal Assent. Acts may also commence on a day to be determined by proclamation. Proclamation dates in most jurisdictions are gazetted in the Government Gazette.

Parliamentary Debates (also called Hansard) - A verbatim report of what is said in Parliament (either the House of Representatives or the Senate, in the case of the Commonwealth). The Commonwealth Hansard is available via the Parliament of Australia website.

Reprints - A reprint means that the original Act is reissued incorporating the text of amendments that have been made to the legislation. Locating the latest reprint is the first step in finding the current version of an Act in print. Reprinted Australian legislation is available on AustLII, ComLaw and the range of state legislation sites. Many Australian jurisdictions issue updated printed reprints of single Acts and regulations and these are available in the Library.

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