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Finding Australian and Foreign legislation

Australian legislation

Legislation indexes are useful tools for identifying legislation relevant to a particular topic.

Free sources of legislation

Acts - Key points 

  • also known as statutes
  • Acts are legislation that has passed through Parliament
  • all Acts are numbered (eg. 12 of 2014)
  • Acts can only be amended by Parliament
  • an Act might even expressly repeal another Act which means that the earlier Act is no longer in force

What is legislation?

Legislation consists of Acts of Parliament and subordinate (or delegated) legislation made under Acts of Parliament. Legislation can refer to a single law (statute or act) or a collection of laws. Laws and rules made by the Parliament, together with, the process by which those that have been delegated the authority enforce the rules. 

Understanding legislation:

Information is available to help you gain a better understanding of an Act.

  • Secondary materials, within legal encyclopedia, text books and journal articles.
  • Extrinsic materials, such as second reading speeches (in Hansard) and explanatory memoranda (interstate).

More information on the legislative process can be found here:

South Australian Legislative process

Commonwealth - Parliament and Government
(from the Parliament of Australia)

Legislation Handbook
(from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet)

Legislative process

The legislative process is outlined in the Parliament of Australia links below:

Most Acts have Regulations or Rules that accompany them. For Commonwealth legislation, these are known as Legislative Instruments. For SA Legislation the regulations and rules are known as subordinate legislation.

You always need to check the currency of an Act or a Regulation. Use Lawlex or LawOne  to search for  the specific piece of legislation you need.

Some Acts commence on assent and some on proclamation. Sometimes different parts of an act become operative at different times.

Acts and Regulations are  progressively amended over time. The current versions that you see on SA Legislation and the Federal Register of Legislation are consolidated. This means that amendments up to date have been incorporated into the most current version. Sometimes it is necessary to refer to a piece of legislation as at a date in the past. This can be done using SA Legislation showing 'ceased' and 'acts of limited application', and viewing 'historical'. On the Federal Register of Legislation  the older versions of an act are listed under 'acts - historical' links.