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Legal research guide: Legislation: Home

Find out about acts, delegated legislation, bills, parliamentary documents and extrinsic materials for Australian jurisdictions

Legislation databases

What is legislation?

The Encyclopaedic Australian Legal Dictionary (LexisNexis AU) provides a useful summary:

Legislation and case law together constitute the primary sources of law.

Legislation

Statutes

1. A law or body of laws formally made or enacted. The term is often confined to those laws promulgated by a legislature (statute law or Acts of Parliament) but in its broadest sense it also encompasses law made by other bodies under the authority of Parliament (delegated legislation).

2. The process of making or enacting law.

Also known as 'lawmaking' or 'statute-making'.

See also Act of Parliament; Bill; Common law; Delegated legislation; Enactment; Legislative process; Promulgation

Legislative process

Constitutional law

The process by which laws are created and promulgated by the Commonwealth Parliament and respective State parliaments. Usually, a bill is introduced into one of the houses of parliament, is passed by that house and agreed to in identical form by the other house, and receives the assent of the Crown, becoming an Act of Parliament.

See also Bill; Legislation

Extrinsic material

Statutes

Material that does not form part of an Act but which may assist in the interpretation of that Act. Such material includes explanatory memoranda, reports of law reform commissions and parliamentary committees and second reading speeches. While at common law it was not permissible to have recourse to such materials, for the purposes of statutory interpretation (Commissioner for Prices and Consumer Affairs (SA) v Charles Moore (Aust) Ltd (1977) 139 CLR 449 ; 14 ALR 485 ), consideration may now be given to such materials to confirm the ordinary meaning of a word or phrase or where there is ambiguity: for example (CTH) Acts Interpretation Act 1901 s 15AB; (NSW) Interpretation Act 1987 s 34(1).

Also known as 'extrinsic aids'.

See also Act of Parliament; Golden rule; Literal rule; Statutory construction; Travaux préparatoires

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