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Legislation: Bills & extrinsic material

Key points

Extrinsic material is:

  • material associated with proposed legislation
  • helps understand, define or interpret the meaning or intention of legislation
  • useful in legal research
  • includes Explanatory Memoranda (EMs), Hansard, second reading speeches and government reports

Australian Parliament - About Parliament: Making a Law

From the Parliamentary Education Office YouTube Channel

Types of material

  • a proposal for a new law or a change to an existing law
  • introduced into Parliament and debated and voted on in both houses
  • can be amended 
  • debate may be short or go back and forth for a long period, depending on the nature of the Bill
  • not all Bills are passed
  • may be sent to a Parliamentary Committee to discuss further before being voted on
  • once passed in both houses (in the same form) a Bill becomes an Act

Quick links

To access Bills for all Australian states and territories click here

  • a document that accompanies a Bill in Parliament
  • outlines the intention of the Bill
  • also known as explanatory notes or explanatory statements
  • often provides detailed notes on individual provisions in the Bill
  • invaluable in understanding the purpose of an Act or section of an Act
  • generally not published for South Australian legislation
  • available for most Commonwealth legislation

Quick links

  • official report of the debates and proceedings of the Parliament
  • published shortly after proceedings have ended
  • also known as Parliamentary debates or second reading speech
  • invaluable for trying to understand the purpose of an Act or section of an Act (or why a Bill was not passed)
  • Commonwealth Hansard is available for all Senate, House of Representatives, the Federation Chamber and all Parliamentary Committees.

Quick links

To access second reading speeches for all Australian states and territories click here

For information about Law Reform publications click here.

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Interpreting legislation

South Australia and other jurisdictions have legislation that outlines how extrinsic material can be used in interpreting legislation.

Yes, an Act about Acts.