About the Index to Explanatory Memoranda 1901–1982

Index to Explanatory Memoranda 1901–1982

This index lists all items identified as explanatory memoranda—or comparative memoranda—in the Australian Parliament from 1901 to the end of 1982 (1st–32nd Parliaments). From 1982, the provision of explanatory memoranda has been standard practice for government bills introduced into the Commonwealth Parliament.

The memoranda are included in the sets of bills published by each house of Parliament, usually at the end of the Parliament. The volumes generally include:

  • The text of bills as introduced (First Reading print)
  • Where appropriate, revised versions of bills after they have passed through one house of Parliament (Third Reading print)
  • Amendments proposed by Senators or Members of Parliament
  • Schedules of amendments exchanged by the houses during the legislative process
  • Explanatory memoranda—or comparative memoranda, and any supplementary memoranda

The index reflects the contents of the set of volumes held by the Parliamentary Library in Canberra. There may be slight differences, for example in the dating of print runs, in the same volumes as held by other institutions. Libraries that also hold some of these volumes include the National Library of Australia and most of the State and Territory libraries: see the GovPubs database for precise details.

The arrangement of the index reflects the arrangement of the volumes themselves, with one series of Senate volumes and one series of House of Representatives volumes. In many cases, an identical memorandum has been presented to both houses of Parliament, with the memorandum prepared for the house where the bill is introduced being presented again when the bill goes to the other house. In some cases, however, when a bill has been amended in the first house, either a revised memorandum or a supplementary memorandum is presented to the other house: the different versions are noted in the index by words such as “Takes account of House of Representatives amendments to the bill”.

Where no explanatory memorandum is available, and more information is sought than is provided by the Parliamentary Debates, an alternative—but probably more time-consuming—avenue of research is the government files held by the National Archives of Australia; some of this material is listed in their RecordSearch database. In particular, there is a series of Bill Files (Series A2863) created by the Attorney-General’s Department and the Office of Parliamentary Counsel.

Key to the Index

Where a specific date is given, it is usually the date the memorandum was printed; the use of circa (c.) shows that the date given is the date the bill was introduced into the House of Representatives or the Senate. Where the same memorandum was introduced to both houses of the parliament, the circa date is the date on which the bill was first presented.

CM or EM:

CM = Comparative Memorandum: A document that sets out the text of a Principal Act as it will appear if the current bill is passed, and identifies the additions or deletions made by the bill to that Act. Alternatively, it sets out differences between a current bill and a former version of that bill, or between an existing rate of tariff and a proposed rate.
EM = Explanatory Memorandum: “An executive document issued by a Minister explaining the aims and operation of a statute. In statutory interpretation, if the meaning of a provision in an Act is ambiguous or obscure, or the ordinary meaning conveyed by the text of the provision taking into account its context in the Act leads to a result that is manifestly absurd or unreasonable, reference may be made to explanatory memoranda in order to ascertain the meaning of the provision: (CTH) Acts Interpretation Act 1901 s 15AB.” (Butterworths Australian Legal Dictionary, Sydney: Butterworths, 1997, s.v. ‘explanatory memorandum’.)

Number of pages includes the cover page.

Notes indicate whether different versions of the memorandum were presented to the two houses of Parliament, give the full title of some documents, or add other details.

Chamber indicates whether the document listed was presented to the Senate or the House of Representatives.

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