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Law Research

What is legislation and why do you use it?

" Legislation consists of Acts of Parliament and subordinate (or delegated) legislation made under Acts of Parliament. The term legislation can refer to a single law (also known as a statute) or a collection of laws. Members of the Parliament are referred to as legislators, persons who make laws. Collectively they constitute a legislature, a body that makes laws."

Office of Parliamentary Council, 2019, Understanding Legislation.

Sign up for an account through the Federal Register of Legislation to receive email notification regarding updates or changes to Commonwealth law.

Where can I find legislation?

Lawlex: Searches State, Territory and Commonwealth legislation websites, which links to associated legislative material such as bills, subordinate legislation, second reading speeches and gazette notices.
South Australian Legislation: Includes information about the making, commencement, operation, variation or cessation of legislation and other instruments made under legislation.
Subject Index to South Australian Legislation: A freely available website providing a subject index to SA Acts and links to the SA Legislation website.
Federal Register of Legislation: Contains legislation of the Commonwealth and non-self governing territories, including Bills, explanatory memorandas (plain English version of the bill) plus the Federal Register of Legislative Instruments (including regulations and statutory rules).
AustLII: A freely available database containing full text legislation.
Lexis Advance: Contains legal publications relating to Australia and New Zealand, including case reports, legislation, and analytical material. Select Advance search > Legislation.

Where can I find parliamentary debates and second reading speeches?

Hansard is the official report of the debates and proceedings of Parliament, including second reading speeches. They are published shortly after the chamber or committee proceedings have ended. See below for links to the Commonwealth of Australia and the State Hansard reports:

Where can I find government publications?

Where can I find legislation in jurisdictions other than Australia?

UK Legislation: Access all UK legislation since 1988 and most pre-1988 legislation, delivered by the National Archives.

Parliament of Canada: Government and private members bills before Parliament and their status before the House of Commons and the Senate.

EUR-Lex: Access European Union Law - Collections include Treaties, International agreements, Consolidated legislation and Case law.

New Zealand Legislation: Acts, Bills, Legislative Instruments and additional papers from New Zealand Parliament.                                                                                                                                                                                              

Canada Gazette: The “official newspaper” of the Government of Canada since 1841, it publishes all laws and regulations, proposed regulations, government and some private sector notices.

Westlaw China: Comprehensive laws and regulations, cases, select model contracts and legal journals from China. 

Justice Laws Website: Contains all Canadian Consolidated Acts and Regulations.

United States Legislative Information: Find out about the US Congress and access all Federal legislation since 1993.

WorldLII: A free, non-profit global legal research facility that provides access to databases. These include decisions of international Courts and Tribunals, databases from a number of Asian countries and South Africa.

The legislative process

See this information sheet from the Parliament of Australia for more information on making laws.

How do I reference an Australian Act of Parliament?

Sourced from the Australian Guide to Legal Citation:

The correct reference for this Act is:  

Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) s 3

For more information please consult the the fourth edition of the Australian Guide to Legal Citation (AGLC4). See page 67 for how to reference legislative materials.

Complete this short tutorial on finding legislation

Navigate to finding Australian legislation interactive tutorial