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Government and country information: Legislation and Regulations

Australian state and federal governments and parliamentary publications; UN and country economic and political information.

Legislation & Regulations

The State Library aims to have a complete set of Commonwealth and South Australian legislation and to provide access to the current legislation of other States via the World Wide Web. At this point in time the printed version of the document remains the official version and users of the electronic version should confirm that wording is accurate by also consulting the printed version.

The legal databases, Austlii developed by UTS and UNSW Faculties of Law, and Scaleplus developed by the Australian Attorney General's Department, are major sources of legislation and case materials for Australia.

Austlii includes legislation and caselaw for the Commonwealth of Australia, all States, the ACT and NT. To search Austlii efficiently for legislation, use the link to the Alphabetical list of Acts rather than using Word search. Word searches retrieve case materials as well.

ComLaw incorporates Commonwealth primary legislation, as well as other ancillary documents and information, in electronic form, and the Federal Register of Legislative Instruments (FRLI)

Current legislation for all States is available at the Parliament website in each State. See links above under Interstate Hansards.

Interstate Legislation

Other states

The State Library has a substantial collection of Acts for each state of Australia, generally dating from the establishment of responsible government in each State. For recent years these collections are not complete.

Access to recent interstate legislation is readily made via the database Austlii, or at the various Parliament websites listed above under Interstate Hansards. Collections of subordinate legislation such as Regulations; and Ordinances for the Australian offshore Territories are very incomplete. Current Ordinances for all Territories are awaiting migration to ComLaw. Most Interstate legislation is now held off-site. Ask at the Information Desk for off-site retrieval.

Northern Territory

The Ordinances, 1911-1982 and the Laws of the Northern Territory 1983- (incomplete) are held offsite. Ask at the Information Desk for retrieval within 2-3 days. Current Northern Territory legislation, including some historical consolidations of Acts are available at the NT Legislative Assembly website.

NT legislation between 1863 and 1911, when the NT was administered from SA, have been gathered in a volume entitled Acts relating to the Northern Territory 1863-1907 or can be found separately in the Acts of the Parliament of South Australia in the Government Publications Collection.

Between 1901 and 1940, Territory ordinances, including those of the A.C.T. and Northern Territory, were published in full in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette.

South Australian Legislation

The laws of South Australia were made by the Governor and the Council of Government, and then by the partly elected Legislative Council until 1857 when the bicameral Parliament came into being. Copies of Acts and Ordinances of South Australia enacted in the British Parliament prior to 1857, as well as a full set of Acts and Regulations thereafter, are available on open access in the Government Publications Collection. South Australian Acts, Bills and Regulations are also available online from 2003 at South Australian Legislation, and also at Austlii: South Australian Resources including an incomplete set of South Australian Acts (Point in Time)

Indexes to SA legislation

An index to South Australian legislation can be found in the back of the annual volumes of Acts of the Parliament of South Australia from 1937 to 1989 and as a separate volume entitled Index of South Australian legislation since 1993. This is updated by a fortnightly index called South Australian legislation update until 2002 and then Update of ... index of South Australian legislation. The latest index is held at the Information Desk and is also available online. It includes a table of the Acts in force, amendments, regulations and case annotations.

Subject index to South Australian legislation. There is no official subject index to South Australian legislation, but the Australian Law Librarians' Group SA Division has created an online index.

The South Australian Legal History Archive joint venture of the Flinders University School of Law and Law Library has recently digitised a complete collection of South Australian Acts and Ordinances 1837 - 2002 as Acts of the Parliament of South Australia 1837 - 2002.

Commonwealth Legislation

The State Library maintains a set of Acts, Bills, Explanatory Memoranda, Legislative Instruments and Statutory Rules of the Australian Parliament in the open access Government Publications Collection. The Library only has the last 5 years of Bills, Explanatory Memoranda and Legislative Instruments on open access. All these publications are known by and filed by their short title. To check the Short Title of an Act, Bill or Explanatory Memorandum, consult Wick's Subject Index to Commonwealth Legislation, held at the Information Desk, or the index in each bound annual volume of Commonwealth Acts.

Since Bills may originate in either House of Parliament, it is necessary to look in both the House of Representatives and the Senate boxes to find Bills and their corresponding Explanatory Memoranda.

Explanatory memoranda explain the content of the Bill in plain language and give a useful insight into the original intentions and purposes of each section of the Bill. Not every Bill has an explanatory memorandum Explanatory Memoranda for Commonwealth bills have only been in use routinely since 1978-82.The Second Reading speech of the bill, contained in Hansard, also outlines the purpose of the bill.

It is common for an Act of Parliament to allow some other person or body to make a law on matters of detail under an Act. Such a law is called a legislative instrument. The Legislative Instruments Act 2003 requires legislative instruments to be registered and published on the Federal Register of Legislative Instruments (a part of ComLaw) and tabled in Parliament. They are normally disallowable, which means that either House of Parliament may stop their operation by a vote within a set period after they have been tabled. They have a great variety of titles; regulations are legislative instruments, but so are many things called determinations, guidelines, rules, orders and other names.

Bills (including Explanatory Memoranda) and Legislative Instruments for the Commonwealth of Australia from 1996- can be found on ComLaw.