The most comprehensive site for legislation is the Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII). It also has a reasonably friendly user interface. However, it does not cover all legislation and does not always provide current information. It is therefore necessary to check with the various Commonwealth, State and Territory sites (listed below) for legislation not found on AustLII.
ComLaw is the authorised site for federal legislation.LAWLEX provides a Subject Index of Legislation from all jurisdictions.
Bills and Explanatory Memoranda
Bills – on the Parliament site. Mainly from 1997 onwards with a few back to the 1970s. Note that current bills are in a separate file from old bills. Texts of bills, with links to related documents (Explanatory Memoranda, Bills Digests, second reading speeches; Proposed Amendments). Regulation Impact Statements (when made) are contained within Explanatory Memoranda. Second reading speeches from digitised Hansards back to 1901 are available on the House of Representatives and Senate Hansard websites.
ComLaw (1996+). Select "EM/Supp Material" under the name of each Bill to see the EM. Content supplied by Parliament House.
AustLII. Bills (1981+) -- EMs (1980+). Content supplied by Parliament House.
Australian Taxation Office Legal Database: Extrinsic Materials
Explanatory Memoranda and second reading speeches for tax bills from 1936+.
Index to Explanatory Memoranda 1901-1982
A list compiled by the Parliamentary Library showing which bills were accompanied by an EM, with links to selected EMs. Not all bills had EMs before 1982. Also has text of some EMs after 1982 not available elsewhere.
Senate Tabled Papers Database (Bills and Explanatory Memoranda)
A database of items tabled in the Senate. It contains all explanatory memoranda tabled in the Senate since 1901, and some bills. Select "Bill" and its subdivisions in the "Description" pull down box. Note that the database is not very user friendly and you should read the "Tips on Searching" before starting.
Bills Lists 1981-1995
These contain information about every bill introduced into Parliament. 1981--1982--1983--1984-- 1984 (p11-12)--1985--1986--1987 (June)--1987 (December)--1988--1989--1990--1991--1992--1993--1994--1995.
Lists for 1996 onwards may be found on the Parliament House website via Parlinfo.
The most current and comprehensive site for Commonwealth Acts. If the Act you want is not here, try browsing the numbered Acts (ie Acts as originally passed)
Historical numbered acts 1901+
These are available on HeinOnline
Documenting a Democracy. This National Archives site has the text of a small number of key Acts as they were originally passed: Pacific Islands Labourers Act 1901; Immigration Restriction Act 1901; Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902, Judiciary Act 1903; Seat of Government Acceptance Act 1909; Commonwealth Electoral Act 1924; Statute of Westminster Adoption Act 1942; Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948; Flags Act 1953; Royal Style and Titles Act 1953
Other acts: Commonwealth Electoral Act 1902 ; Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918
Federal Statutes Annotations
All principal Acts for the Commonwealth are listed with: assent and reprint information; the current state of the Act, such as repeal or change of name; amending Acts with relevant commencement information; related Acts; regulations made under the Act; and relevant books and articles [through LexisNexis AU and available by subscription to Parliament only].
ComLaw Legislation Tables
Contains: Acts Table 1901+ (an alphabetical and chronological consolidated list of all Acts passed and how affected by later legislation. Very useful for historical research); annual Acts Tables 1993+; Repealed Acts Tables 1988+.
Commencement Dates for Acts
Each Act usually provides for how it will come into force (eg the day after Royal Assent). If the date of commencement is to be done by Proclamation this is notified as a Legislative Instrument on ComLaw (see below) or before 2005 notified in the Government Gazette. From 2005 each Act as passed on ComLaw provides details of any commencement proclamations (usually in section 2), while each compilation of an Act provides commencement information for the principal and amending acts in a table in the Notes to the Act. Commencement information may also be available in the Federal Statutes Annotations and the ComLaw legislation tables mentioned above. The Legislation Index of the Supreme Court of Victoria Library provides commencement information for Commonwealth Acts since 1991. The Office of Parliamentary Counsel provides background to commencement provisions in its Drafting Direction no. 1.3.
Delegated Legislation (Legislative Instruments, Statutory Rules, Regulations, determinations, directives, orders, proclamations, etc)
Consolidated (or reprinted) legislative instruments on ComLaw
The most current and comprehensive site for Commonwealth delegated legislation. If the instrument you want is not here, try browsing instruments 'as made' (selected from 1920+) (ie instruments as originally passed).
Explanatory Statements to Legislative Instruments on Comlaw
1920+. These are equivalent to Explanatory Memorandums to Bills. Select "Explanatory Statement" under the name of each instrument to see the ES.
Other delegated legislation not required to be registered on ComLaw is sometimes notified in the Commonwealth of Australia gazette. Some government departments also publish their delegated legislation on their web sites. The Administrative Arrangements Order can be checked to determine the legislation administered by each department.
Senate Tabled Papers Database Instruments and Explanatory Statements tabled in the Senate
A database of items tabled in the Senate. It covers regulations and instruments tabled in the Senate since 1901. Select "Instrument" and its subdivisions or "Legislative Instrument" in the "Description" pull down box. Note: the databse is tricky to use and you should read the "Tips on Searching" before starting.
ComLaw Legislation Tables
Contains: Tables of Select Legislative Instruments 2005+; Statutory Rules Table 1903-2012 (an alphabetical list of all Rules in force as at 2012); annual Statutory Rules Tables 1992+.
A small number of regulations and ordinances is made under Letters Patent. They are published in the Commonwealth of Australia gazette and occasionally on ComLaw. For further information on this type of legislation see the Library's Research Note no. 11, 2003-04, 18 September 2003, A rare form of law making: legislation made outside Parliament by Roy Jordan.
Model Laws published by the Standing Committee of Attorneys General (SCAG) - model laws of Defamation, Evidence, Legal Profession, Criminal Law and others.